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January 2023
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Toastmasters Expands Its Language Base

New District program offers more options to native speakers.

By Stephanie Darling


“Toastmasters

New translations of approved Toastmasters material, many in languages that have never been available before, are coming online through the District Translation Program.

The program, which began as a promising pilot project in 2020, is now official. Districts have the opportunity to translate the Pathways learning experience and other approved resources into Toastmasters’ 11 existing languages or into additional languages chosen by the District. It’s a program that will make Toastmasters more inclusive and give many members a new opportunity to learn with confidence in their native language.

Districts organize and work with their own translation teams; World Headquarters provides project support and approval. Flexibility is key. Districts work at their own pace and have the ability to work with other Districts or external partners, such as universities. Final translations are posted to the Toastmasters website or to Base Camp for use by all members.

Toastmasters digital flier in Hindi

District 110 (Central and Eastern Europe) has translated all 11 Pathways paths into Romanian, while many Pathways projects are now available in Hindi, Italian, and Polish. Nine Districts are working on additional translations in Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, Dutch, Malayalam, Swedish, French, and Simplified Chinese. Among the potential new languages: Thai, Greek, and Urdu.

“These translations will help Districts in the long term, and the experience is wonderful,” says District 110 Director Calin Gilea, DTM, a member of the Timisoara Toastmasters Club in Romania.

“The smiles on the faces of members and colleagues when they see a Pathways project translated in their native language is priceless,” he adds.


How It Works

The program sets out a detailed process for cooperative efforts between District translation teams and World Headquarters. Once a project is approved, Districts set the scope of work and project timelines.


District Role
  • Reach out to World Headquarters for authorization prior to commencing
  • Organize translations teams to coordinate translation of approved materials into existing and/or additional languages
  • Translate a language-specific glossary and style guide provided by World Headquarters
  • Translate project files provided by World Headquarters

World Headquarters Role
  • Evaluate translations and review requests
  • Assign project to District translation teams; provide instructions and guidance
  • Manage the centralized maintenance and quality control of translated items
  • Make translated materials available on the Toastmasters website and Base Camp

Districts in Action

A diverse translations library has been on the mind of Gilea for at least the past five years.

“I noticed the need for translated materials in my country because most of the clubs here conduct meetings in our native language—Romanian. This was during the era of the traditional education program,” he recalls.

“In 2018, I started to contemplate translating Pathways into Romanian as a pilot project when Pathways was rolled out in our region. That was the moment I started to build a translation team.”

District 110 now has teams working on translating Level 1 of Pathways in Hungarian and Slovak. Gilea admits the translation work is rigorous. It took almost two years to translate 63 Pathways education projects into Romanian, with a small team of proofreaders, layout specialists, and quality control reviewers, he says.

The translations will be a robust addition to District education materials. Currently, around half of the clubs in the District are conducting meetings in native languages, none of which are English, Gilea explains.

The translation projects are not only valuable to many Toastmasters, they are a source of pride for participating Districts and teams.

“Our members are proud of this achievement,” Gilea notes. “We are committed to contributing to Toastmasters’ mission by making education available to previously unreachable people, due to the language barrier.”

Joanna Rymko, a member of Toastmasters Poznan in Poznan, Poland, managed District 108 (Baltic Sea states) translations editing
and layout responsibilities before becoming the leader of two Polish translation teams in 2020.

One is a core team, composed of members from Toastmasters clubs around Poland, who commit to taking on different tasks.

“The smiles on the faces of members and colleagues when they see a Pathways project translated in their native language is priceless.”

—Calin Gilea, DTM

The second team includes members of the University of Rzeszow Toastmasters Club, which chartered in 2020. Club members, as well as students, were eager to be a part of the project, to learn more about Toastmasters and translation as a discipline. The team works primarily in Polish. Several English native speakers from the university are part of the project, to oversee linguistic correctness, Rymko adds.

Like Gilea in District 110, Rymko sees expanding language translations as a top contributor to building and maintaining healthy clubs.

“Not every person willing to participate in a club knows English—or any other foreign language—well enough to understand and gain from our educational materials,” Rymko says. So being able to progress in an educational program like Toastmasters in one’s own language is a special opportunity.

District 108 is already considering its next project. Current District Director Dovile Kurpyte-Lipnicke, a member of Confident Voices Vilnius, in Vilnius, Lithuania, is —considering organizing a team to undertake translations into Russian.

Both Gilea and Rymko encourage Districts to apply for the translation program because it offers such dynamic benefits to native speakers.

“Don’t be afraid to ask about this program! Polish translations are now possible, thanks to Immediate Past District Director Elena Paweta initiating our request to World Headquarters,” Rymko explains.

The rest, she says, is a matter of gathering a dedicated team. “And take your time,” she adds. “The more time and attention you pay to a particular task, the better the outcome will be.”

For more information on the District Translation Program, contact districttranslations@toastmasters.org.


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