Standards for Language Instruction, Interpretation, Translation and Proficiency

The language services and products industry encompasses translation (written, or text-to-text translation), interpretation (oral, or speech-to-speech translation) language training, machine translation, language testing, and human language technology technologies designed to replicate and respond to the human voice. During the past 15 years, this industry has experienced rapid growth.

Meeting the Needs of a Multi-Lingual World

Globalization and localization, or the need to tailor products and services linguistically and culturally to a particular market, have contributed significantly to the development of the industry, along with the expansion of the European Union, burgeoning geo-political concerns, and an increase in non-English-speaking U.S. citizens. Demands for standards, that promote quality and the ability to understand and communicate effectively in different languages for economic, security and diplomatic reasons, have accompanied the growth of the industry.

Providing Quality and Assessment Standards for Constituents

In the mid-2000s, three standards were initially developed under the auspices of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products to assist businesses purchasing and providing language services and products. However, government agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Pentagon's Defense Language Institute, requested the development of consensus standards to evaluate job performance testing, translation output and the quality of translation services and products. Those requests were supported by academic and professional organizations, including the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the Joint National Council on Languages, the Interagency Language Roundtable, and the American Translators Association.

New Main Committee F43 on Language Services and Products

ASTM Committee F43 on Language Services and Products was formed to address language interpretation, translation, proficiency and foreign language instruction. In addition to maintaining and updating existing language standards, the new committee will work with health care, court and other interpreters and translators to tailor new performance standards to their particular environments. F43 will also develop standards to assess new Interagency Language Roundtable guidelines covering translation, interpretation, cultural proficiency and other topics. Additionally, standards will be developed to address performance testing, to test K-12 student foreign language proficiency, to assess language training programs, and to help companies and organizations determine the cultural and language needs of employees operating in foreign countries.

Get Involved

Join your peers on ASTM Committee F43 and help create the standards that will guide foreign language services and products. You'll work side-by-side with other experts in the open and accessible ASTM process, leveraging world-class standards development tools and technologies. For further information, please contact Ashley Wiand, ASTM Staff Manager, at +1-610-832-9551 or e-mail at awiand@astm.org. You can also visit the F43 homepage.