iFixit’s First University Translation Project

iFixit’s First University Translation Project

Learn more about our first didactic collaboration with the Roma Tre University in Italy!

Through our Technical Writing Project, iFixit has partnered with 98 universities worldwide to teach repair and technical writing. This program has made a long-standing impact: Over 28,000 students have contributed to creating more than 50,000 repair manuals on iFixit. This initiative has reached global heights, but until now, the focus has solely been on technical writing in English.

For the first time, we’ve worked with a university department focusing on translating rather than writing repair content. Our collaboration with the Foreign Languages Department of Roma Tre University in Italy marks a significant milestone and a threefold success: For iFixit, it’s a pioneering venture into multilingual content, and for the 67 million native speakers of Italian, it means access to our repair guides in their native language, enabling them to fix their Google Pixel 8, their JBL speaker, and much more. In total, over 180 guides on repairing, testing, or disassembling everything from smartphones to hair clips were translated into Italian within just one academic term—that’s a remarkable outcome. 

Think of how many phones, game consoles, and e-readers will be repaired and kept out of landfills because of these translations!

Most importantly, it was also a great success for the students enrolled in the B. A. program “Lingue e mediazione linguistico-culturale” (Languages and Linguistic and Cultural Mediation) who were able to apply their knowledge and translation skills in a practical setting and gain some real-world experience of what it’s like to work as a translator in a professional context. They received constructive feedback from our Italian translator, Sara, who guided them through the technical instructions’ specific challenges, helping them refine their writing style and select accurate translations for specialized terms.

How do you say “earpiece speaker” in Italian? 

Most of the students had little first-hand experience in fixing electronics themselves, so it was quite a challenge for them to understand what the source text was about and find the correct translations in Italian. They all did a great job, however, implementing Sara’s feedback and making good use of our glossary of technical terms. As a bonus, it was probably also the first time for many of them to realize that it’s actually possible to fix their electronic devices themselves, which is an incredibly empowering experience!

If you can replace your aging laptop battery yourself, you’re all set for long study sessions in the library. It’s easier than you think. Image: iStock.com/Deagreez.

Apart from technical terminology, the students learned a lot about adjusting their writing style to meet the requirements of instructional texts. While we encourage an informal, modern style of writing at iFixit, translating instructional and informative texts also involves a high degree of precision and close attention to detail (including such things as commas, full stops, hyphens, etc. 😉). Aesthetic considerations, on the other hand, only play a very minor role, as some of the students experienced when they tried to create beautiful sentences, varying their vocabulary to avoid repetition—only to find that we had to turn their texts into pedantically exact instructions. (Sorry about that. We really are.)

Intuitive translation interface

To get started, the students created their own iFixit accounts and also joined a team created specifically for their course so that they could learn from each other’s translations. We provided them with a list of untranslated content specific to the university’s requirements, which allowed them to decide for themselves which guides and wikis they wanted to translate. While fixing electronics generated the most interest, some also translated guides on how to repair garments or restore computer software

Our intuitive translation interface makes it easy to concentrate on the translation alone without having to learn how to use complex translation management software: The source language is on the left-hand side, and the translation is entered on the right—that’s it. Each translation was proofread by our translator, Sara, who also provided detailed feedback to each student individually to help them improve their skills.

The iFixit translation interface (left). The guide images help understand what’s going on, and our technical glossary (right) makes it easy to find the correct translation for specialized terminology.

At the end of the academic term, iFixit issued certificates detailing the students’ learning outcomes and achievements, as well as how much time they invested. These certificates not only help them showcase their knowledge and abilities to prospective employers but also give them a chance to have their contributions accredited as an internship, which is mandatory in many degree programs at European universities: With the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), time spent on academically relevant activities can be converted into academic credits, depending on the provisions of the individual degree program and the lecturer’s decision. 

Translating for a Sustainable Future

Altogether, the students dedicated over 180 hours to translating repair content, which is just fantastic. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who participated in this project. Your contributions to the repair community are invaluable! With your translations, you’ll help countless people repair their phones, mend their clothes, and extend the life of their laptops. Your work not only saves people money but also prevents unnecessary e-waste and conserves natural resources. You didn’t just do a good job translating; you truly made a positive impact.

Are you teaching or studying translation or linguistics? Would you like to allow your students (or classmates) to practice their translation skills while promoting sustainability and helping others? Learn more or write us an email at translate@ifixit.com

iFixit guide translation is available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

Header image: iStock.com/skynesher