Why the Future of Mongolia is in the hands of translators

2016-02-01 11:45 GMT+8

Are you a bilingual Mongolian? Would you like to help Mongolia prosper better than any entrepreneur, economist or politician? Because you can do that. By translating valuable English content into Mongolian.

See, the best thing about you is that you have two perceptions. In Mongolia, you’re part of a country in turmoil, where unemployment and social dissatisfaction is common, but on the Internet, you’re connected to the whole wide world--myriad of people teach skills and share knowledge for free in English. There’s so much out there, yet a lot of Mongolians are left out due to the language barrier--and you can help them.

We’re living in a time where getting a Harvard-quality education doesn’t mean actually going there. It’s all online! And. It’s. All. Free.


OK. This is just to catch your attention--there are plenty more schools, but everyone thinks Harvard is the best school in Mongolia.

Let me tell you about Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs. Eight years ago, professors of American universities thought they should make some of their courses open on the Internet, free for all. By 2012, there was a quiet revolution on education around the world.

Let’s say an African teenager had to walk a kilometer to get to an Internet cafe and watched two hours of video lectures and submitted a small homework each week. At the end of as little as only four weeks, he’d have a certificate from Stanford university. That’s the beauty of MOOC. No payment, just your attention. There are websites like Coursera and edX that made MOOC super famous, but they’re not the only ones; almost every country (even Mongolia--look at one.mn and edu.golomtbank.com) is making MOOCs these days.

You can google almost any profession or technical skill you want, add MOOC after it, and find a MOOC course on it. 

Here’s me googling MOOCs on being a magician and an alcoholic. Surprisingly, there were courses on both, but I we don’t need any lessons on the latter.

As long as you can commit time, you can study absolutely anything--and for free.


Well, that’s the thing. Nobody can commit time. Especially me Mongolians, because of two reasons. One, Bill Gates said poor people prefer entertainment to education, whereas rich people (or people bound to get rich constantly seek education). I Mongolians watch at least one feature movie and one serial episode every night--that’s three hours every evening, 21 hours a week, 90 hours a month, 1,080 hours a year--but I you can’t commit to spend only three hours per week for a lecture. Two, for most other people who are committed, who could be getting so much--there’s the language barrier.


Imagine your family, friends, people on the street and little kids in school receiving that high quality education. They’d be making making right decisions about life, career and working smart--and hard--to create value. The more Mongolians get educated, the more compounded this investment becomes.

You can help make this happen. If only fifty bilinguals translated one hundred courses in--I don’t know, animal husbandry, international business, finance, tourism--imagine the impact it would make in the country’s economy.

There’s benefit for the translators themselves, too. For every 25,000 words translated from Coursera lectures, they give you a right to take $49 certificate of one course. That means you’ll get the actual certificate from the university, be it Harvard, Stanford or any school from around the world.

Translating for Coursera - They’re not making Mongolian available until a Language Coordinator is selected. I applied, so as soon as they select me someone, we can begin.

Translating for edX - You can start anytime. Also Harvard has its classes here.


There are many other gems on personal development, science and business that Mongolia is absolutely missing out. Let’s explore them.


Explainers started with the idea that someone should explain everything about one concept. For example, What is Ebola virus? Paris attack: Everything You Need to Know.  Video channels are more successful at this, because the viewer absorbs everything passively and the explainer has many tools of multimedia at hand. Here’s a short list of popular explainer channels on Youtube:

ASAPscience -- answers curious questions about science

Vsauce -- makes your jaw drop and many others, like Kurzgesagt--In a Nutshell, This School of Life, TED videos, TED-Ed videos.

Then, there are lots of articles that needs to be translated. WaitButWhy is a series of funny long informative articles by an extremely smart man--one piece was actually recently translated into Mongolian

Another similar branch that grew up on the Internet is mythbusting contents, like Cracked.com (where I had the privilige of busting few things), “Adam Ruins Everything” and “Mythbusters” shows. It uncovers myths and misconceptions through serious research and experimentation, and opens our eyes. 

Translating Youtube subtitles is easy. All you do is follow these three steps. 1. Click on the gear icon on lower right corner of the video, 2. Click on Subtitles/CC, and 3. Click on Add subtitles/CC. You will be directed to a page where you can translate the text one by one. Note that some videos don’t have this option, and you’d have to contact the creator in this case.


The whole world is secretly preparing their children for a war to fight or tame the machine, but Mongolians are missing out. With more and more items being computerized, coding can be used for anything from websites, cars and smartphones to home appliances, farms and companies.

Code.org teaches primary-level students (and their teachers) how to write important programming languages by playing games. And they’re looking for a Mongolian translator. All you have to do is email them your name, diploma copy and credentials, and you’ve got a stellar CV and at least 100 likes on your Facebook. A group of people recently founded an NGO to teach code to Mongolian kids.

I’m 30% done translating CodeCombat, another online game that teaches coding--and this one’s a fantasy game, like World of Warcraft, for teenagers and adults.

Translating Code.org tutorials

Translating CodeCombat


This is the ultimate contribution for the glorious motherland of Mongolia. Mongolians have been quipping about how lame Google Translate works, but a private company did it for us. Not everyone has had this opportunity; for Kyrgyzstan, a group of enthusiasts are doing the grunt work.

Mongolian translation shouldn’t end here. We should be improving the machine translation system so that every part of the society can use the Internet with as little language barrier as possible.

Better yet, Google Translate has become really simple and ask you to only translate short phrases. There are levels for contribution, where you’re applauded at every graduation, and there has even been a competition to win smartphone.

Improve Google Translate


First off, translating for free means you’ll get better practice, you’ll feel better about yourself because you’re helping others.

For now, there isn’t a politician or a millionaire who’s willing to pay you money for your translation (if they are reading this, they should email me here), but in case that happens I’ll notify you. Leave your email here if you’re interested.

Besides, there are people who don’t speak English, but who are willing to pay to get this valuable education. I’m testing a website that could facilitate these two groups, maybe we can arrange a crowdfunding system that employs bilinguals like you and make certain translations available. It’ll help you earn some money and make education accessible for all other Mongolians. And that’s as beautiful as the future of Mongolia can be.

Again, leave your email here.

PS: If you want to read above article in Mongolian, please click HERE

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