Rosi AmadorWhen clients hire talent to record bilingual voiceovers, what should they be taking into account?

Finding the right professional to record is of the utmost importance when presenting a target audience with accurately communicated information in their native language.
As a voice over artist, what do you need to know in order to provide the best service possible to those hiring?
Rosi Amador, a professional voice over artist who speaks fluent, accent free English and Spanish, joins us today in her guest article about the 7 most common bilingual voiceover mistakes and how you as a voice artist can avoid them.

Common Bilingual Voiceover Mistakes

By Rosi & Brian Amador • Spanish/English Voice-Over Actors since 1994
In nearly seventeen years of doing voice-over work, Brian and I have had the good fortune to work with repeat clients on projects from commercials, corporate narrations, documentaries, eLearning, audiobooks and marketing to web tutorials, telephony and children’s audiobooks, as well as animated movies for museums. Following is a list of seven common mistakes to avoid when hiring bilingual voice-over talent for your job.

1. Incorrect or Regional Spanish

Spanish-language v/o scripts are often translated from English scripts, sometimes in a hurry, and sometimes by people whose Spanish is less than perfect. Avoid having your project marred by Spanish that’s grammatically incorrect, awkward, or excessively regional. Remember that a colloquial expression from one part of the Spanish-speaking world can be unintelligible, or worse, offensive, to people from other regions. When hiring your voiceover talent, look for native bilingual speakers with a neutral, universal accent and vocabulary who can comfortably recommend corrections and edits. For more complex jobs, a seasoned voiceover actor will often have established relationships with professional translators who can attend to your project quickly, thereby ensuring the highest quality translation.

2. Spanish Text is Too Long

Spanish is a beautiful, poetic language, but it’s not as efficient as English in getting the point across. A literal translation of an English voiceover script is often too long to fit in the allotted time. Again, a native speaker who can suggest changes to the script while maintaining the message can help you streamline your Spanish script. Sometimes it also helps to have someone who can talk fast!

3. There’s “Bilingual” and There’s Bilingual

Many people speak two languages. If you’re looking for bilingual voiceover talent, make sure they speak both languages well, enunciate clearly, and speak with a neutral accent. After all, the point of voiceover is to communicate a message, and this works best when the listener is not distracted by the speaker’s accent or lack of fluency. Seek out testimonials documenting fluency.

4. No Studio Available When You Need It

Don’t let your project grind to a halt as you wait for the voiceover to be recorded. If your project is time-sensitive, it helps to have voiceover talent that can record broadcast-quality VO in a home studio. For more complex jobs, a seasoned voiceover actor will often have established relationships with local studios and with other voiceover talent who can help you populate a project with the best people for your job, on your timeline.

5. Not the Kind of Audio Files You Need

Especially if you’re working with someone who has a home studio, make sure they can get finished audio to you in the format and with the specifications you need (MP3, AIFF, WAV, etc.). If you need a lot of prompts or a memory-intensive format, you’ll also want to be sure they can get the files to you quickly, either through their own FTP site or yours. Some kind of phone patch system is also a must if you want to be able to offer real-time coaching or suggestions.

6. It’s Just Reading, Right? Anyone Can Do It

Wrong! All you need is one bad experience to show you how mistaken this assumption is. Without a competent voiceover actor, you can do countless takes, running up studio time and hourly fees, and still not get what you’re looking for. Mispronunciation, lackluster interpretation, and inability to voice multiple characters or to offer different interpretations, are all problems that can be avoided by hiring experienced, artistic voiceover talent. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or demo recordings.

7. The Flipside: The Voiceover Diva

Maybe you hired a talented, experienced VO actor with great demos, but if they’re not willing to take instruction, you’re still not going to get what you want. Make sure your VO talent is someone who understands that you are the client and is responsive to your suggestions – someone with a positive attitude and a sense that you’re on the same team, who cares as deeply as you do about your end product.
Rosi and Brian Amador

Any Comments?

Be sure to share your thoughts and tips as a comment and join the conversation!
Best wishes,
Photo of Rosi Amador via

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. As a bilingual voice talent, I can relate to each and every point. It is striking and revealing that your tips seem to apply more to clients and voice casters, than to voice actors.
    Most of the problems on your list go back to three factors:
    1. Lack of professionalism;
    2. Lack of quality control;
    3. Unrealistic budget coupled with unrealistic expectations.
    Allow me to clarify.
    1. If you don’t know what a client specifically wants, it’s impossible to deliver the goods. I once did a Dutch audition and the client wrote back:
    “You sounded great, but we were looking for someone with an Amsterdam accent”.
    Well, if that were the case, why didn’t you say so in the job description? Both of us just wasted valuable time.
    Professional clients are specific about what they want. Professional voice casting sites make sure they get and list ALL the details. Voice-over pros always ask for specifics instead of taking shots in the dark. They discuss the details upfront and put them in writing so there’s no confusion.
    This includes the desired audio format, the sample rate and bit depth, as well as how the files will be delivered at what time. You also need to be clear on how and when you expect to be paid.
    2. Terribly translated text is often the result of translation software. It allows a translator to be more productive, but it comes at a hefty price.Translation is very different from word substitution. Translation is -in part- interpretation, taking a specific context into account. Robots have a hard time doing that. I can always tell automated translation from human translation.
    Sloppy translation is a sign that the client is cutting corners and doesn’t care about quality control. I often get a request to proof the translation since I’ll be reading it anyway. 9 out of 10 times, a client expects me to do it for free.
    When you order a main course in a restaurant, do you expect them to give you a free dessert?
    3. Clients often claim to have a beer budget and yet they expect us deliver champagne. The lower the budget, the more demanding they can be.
    I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked to translate, proof and record the script… and throw in the editing too, without any extra compensation.
    I am happy to offer these additional services to my clients, and I deserve and expect to be compensated for my time, energy and expertise.
    If we start giving these services away for free, we are responsible for creating unreasonable expectations, and we are taking work away from people who make a living as a translator or proof reader.
    One last thing: Are these mistakes really “mistakes,” and are they really the result of a talent being bilingual?
    You tell me!


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