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String Translations: A Guide for Volunteers


Your Khan Academy translation team is working to achieve a Khan Academy website in your language! To do so, a great deal of written text must be translated. This guide will help new volunteers understand how to translate strings for Khan Academy.

In this section, we will address the following questions:

  • What are strings? Where do I access them?
  • I am completely new to online string translation. What are all of these strange symbols?
  • How do I get started?
  • What are some common technical issues translators face with Khan Academy translation interfaces?

What are strings? Where do I find them?

The graphic below lists the different items that need to be translated for Khan Academy: videos and strings. Strings include all Khan Academy written text (but not subtitles; these are related to videos and accessed through the dashboard under 'subtitles')


In the context of a translation platform, a string is a single unit of translation. Translators translate strings one at a time, and each one is saved separately. Examples:

     "What is 5 times 3?"

     "Find the area of a circle with a radius of 2"

     "Finish signing up for Khan Academy!"

Where can I access strings?

There are two main ways to access strings: 

1) Translation Portal: Translation teams use the Translation Portal to access and translate videos, exercises, and website text. The Portal contains everything that the translator needs to work on, and is easy to navigate. Here is more information on translating through the Portal.

2) WYSIWYG: With the WYSIWYG feature, strings to translate will appear in the user interface and you can see the results immediately after committing a translation. This will help you understand the context and take design elements and length of the translated string into consideration.


Just show me a video, please!

Okay! Click here. But come back to this page when you're done!

I am completely new to online string translation. What are all of these strange symbols?

When translators encounter strings on the translation portal/ WYSIWYG interface, they will include markup (strange-looking symbols that format the written text). Markup can turn the text bold or a certain color. In particular, written language that contains numbers and equations, such as the text that needs to be translated for Khan Academy math exercises, will have a great deal of markup.

Below is a sentence from an exercise on the Khan Academy website (no markup). Notice that the sentences contain numbers and bolded words.

          Ten tigers were having a tea party. 4 of them had to go home to finish their homework.

          How many tigers were left at the tea party?    


But when a translator encounters this string on the translation portal/WYSIWYG,  it will be marked up with a variety of symbols:

           $10$ tigers were having a tea party. $4$ of them had to go home to finish their                        

           homework.\n\n**How many tigers were left at the tea party?**


What is $ for? Why are there **?  To begin, if a string contains numbers or equations, they need to be enclosed in $. What about the ** before and after the final sentence? This is the markup that formats the text into bold.

When you use our translation interface, you will simply copy the English string with all its crazy markup into a little editor box, where you will translate the words into your language. Don't worry, you will never have to type any of these symbols! Check out this video (again) if you need help visualizing this).

 Here is a French translation:

        $10$ tigres se retrouvent pour goûter. $4$ .\n\n**rentrent chez eux pour finir leurs          devoirs.n\n\               

     **Combien reste-t-il de tigres au goûter ? **

 Don't worry about the markup, and in most cases don't touch it. Leave it just as it is. The good news: any markup  that you are not supposed to change is automatically highlighted in yellow. Don't be afraid of any of this; it's all very user-friendly once you start.

Learn more here:


More puzzling markup: strings embedded in an image

Another case where you may find puzzling markup is in strings for images such as these, which have text embedded in them. The labels for the X and Y axis, as well as the names, are all strings that need to be translated (although depending on your country, you might keep the names). See here for instructions on how to translate the text inside of a graphic. You can feel contact your advocate for more support.



Okay, I understand the basics and I want to get started!

Great! Click here.


Technical Issues:

Sometimes volunteers may experience technical difficulty accessing strings, either on the portal or the WYSIWYG.

Sometimes strings do not render (appear) correctly when you try to save them. 

Sometimes a large yellow box with an error message appears when you are trying to save a translated string. This is called a linter, and it is designed to prevent saving translations with incorrect markup.

 Let your advocate know if you experience the issues above.  


Congratulations on making it through this section! Trust me, soon you'll be an expert- just dive in and start translating strings! For our complete list of articles related to string translation, see here.