Can Zoom transcribe other languages?

André Bastié
André Bastié
Posted in Zoom
5 min read
Can Zoom transcribe other languages?

Video calls and meetings are essential in the business world, but language barriers can be a challenge. Zoom's transcription service helps bridge the language gap, supporting a variety of languages for live transcription. While the accuracy of Zoom's captions is generally high, it lacks a dictionary tool, leading to occasional errors with names, acronyms, and content-specific terms. Additionally, Zoom's supported languages are limited to 22, which may not cover all users' needs.

These days video calls and meetings are just another part of the business world, so many people are familiar with programs like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom. But what many people don’t account for is what to do in the event that the participants of their Zoom meeting or webinar don’t speak the same language as them. It’s difficult to convey information if there’s a language gap complicating things! But with the Zoom transcription service you can bridge the language gap without having to use text transcription software or other live translation services.

English translation sign
English translation

Which languages does Zoom Live Transcription support?

Zoom actually has a pretty solid cross-section of supported languages, so it’s pretty likely that whichever language you need will be found on this list. Here’s a list of the live transcription languages that Zoom currently supports:

Right now Hebrew, Hindi and Romanian can only be translated from English. Zoom does actually offer a few languages that can be translated from languages other than English. These include: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

How to enable language interpretation

Here are the steps to enable language interpretation and live transcription for everyone on your account.

  1. Using the desktop client, sign into the account as an admin.

  2. Click “Account Management” from the navigation menu, then “Account Settings”.

  3. Go to the “Meeting” tab.

  4. Find the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, and then “Language Interpretation”. You’ll need to tick the box to enable it or click off of it to disable it.

  5. If a dialog box pops up, just click “Enable” to confirm the change.

  6. To ensure that other users on the account can’t change this setting, hit the button that looks like a lock and says “Lock”.

  7. You can select the “Enable Language Interpretation by Default” option (it has a check box) to set this as a default setting for all meetings that are created on this account.

How to select the languages to be used with Zoom Language Interpretation

After you’ve enabled language interpretation and the Zoom transcription service, you can then choose and add languages for translation. Here’s how to select the languages you want to be used on your Zoom meeting transcription:

1. After you’ve enabled language interpretation, there will be a display with 9 default languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and Korean.

2. To add more languages, click the +.

3. Enter the language you want to add under “Add Language”.

4. Find and select that language from the drop down menu that appears.

5. Click the “Add” button to add that language. After you add a language it will show up on the drop down menu in your list of languages every time you schedule a Zoom meeting or webinar.

How to view translated captions on Zoom

Participants can view translated captions once the host has enabled them on the Zoom meeting or webinar. Here’s how you can view translated captions:

1. Join the Zoom meeting or webinar.

2. Click the “CC Show Captions” button. The translated captions will show up just above the controls toolbar. The captions are set to appear in English by default.

Translate the captions to another language

Say the host is presenting the Zoom webinar or meeting in English, but you speak French. You can change the language the captions are translated and generated in. Each individual participant can change the language the captions are translated to on their end in real time. The language pairs that participants can choose are dictated by the host’s settings. Here’s how to change the translation language of the captions:

1. Click the “CC Show Captions” button, then the button that looks like an up arrow.

2. Find the “Translate To” button, then navigate to the language you want your captions translated to. Clicking the “More” option will display more language options if the one you want isn’t already displayed.

Once you’ve chosen your translation language, the captions will automatically be translated to that language. Your caption translation settings don’t affect the language translation of other participants’ captions.

Transcription in progress
Transcription in progress

How accurate are Zoom captions?

So, it’s great that Zoom offers these transcription services, but how accurate are they? That’s a little tricky to explain. Some studies declare that they’re between 90-95% accurate. But what these studies fail to account for are things like the fact that Zoom doesn’t have any sort of dictionary tool that allows you to add words. There’s no way to add things like names, acronyms, or other content-specific terms and because of that when the translation or captions fail, they REALLY fail. But when it’s transcribing common English words, it’s pretty spot-on.

The limitations of Zoom captioning

Zoom’s live transcription service is relatively new, and while it’s a great start, all new services have their limitations and you have to keep that in mind when using Zoom’s transcription. Here’s some of the limitations of Zoom’s transcription service:

Captioning in Zoom
Captioning in Zoom

Using Zoom’s settings to record Zoom videos and set your translation language

If the host has enabled the ability to do so, you can actually record the meeting or webinar. Go to your Account Settings, then Recordings. From there you have the option to record all calls with internal participants (all-hands, check-ins, brainstorms, reviews, etc.), or to record meetings and calls from the event organizer.

A bit further down you’ll see the Transcription tab with a drop down of language options. Just select your chosen language.

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