11 ways to get e-Learning Translation right

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e-learning_localization_translation.jpge-Learning has gone global. So what do you do when you have an online education platform in English that needs to be used by people all over the world? Translation and Localization!

  • * e-learning is big business globally
  • * Getting the localization of online platforms can be tricky
  • * Strategy and international perspectives are key to success

Looking for help or guidance on how to get your e-learning package translated and selling abroad? This article is for you.

Companies are increasingly turning to e-Learning courses to educate their employees. Why? The reasons for this are manifold, one of them being that internet courses are very cost effective. According to studies, e-Learning or online education will cost a company only half the money that hiring a teacher/trainer in a regular class would.

In addition, e-Learning is also a great tool for companies with offices all over the world as it enables them to provide the training materials to all of their employees at the same time.

If a company wishes to set up e-Learning courses all over the globe, translation of the materials is often required. After all, employees will probably be more willing to learn if the information is handed to them in their own language. Localizing training materials can be difficult and expensive.

This is why we have come up with 11 essential tips to help you in the process.

Make sure your content is translation friendly

Let’s start off with an easy one: the more complicated your text is, the money it will cost you to have it translated properly. After all, an enumeration of short and sassy statements contains less words than a long and complicated paragraph that includes the same information. As most translators charge per word, the benefits of a concise and clear writing style could be considerable. Moreover, we’re pretty sure this clean style will be highly appreciated by your employees as well!

Carefully choose your languages

If your company has employees located all over the world, it is very tempting to have your course translated in every language spoken in your offices. This isn’t a very wise decision: having your content translated in Uighur for one or two employees isn’t very cost effective. Try to find out what languages are important in your company and have your e-Learning content translated in these languages. Also keep an eye on regional dialects, as these can influence the standard language greatly. A speaker of Brazilian Portuguese, for example, will have great difficulties with a standard Portuguese text.

Make sure your content is culture neutral

Slang, local sayings and metaphors make your content interesting, but also a lot more difficult to be translated. If you try to omit these stylistic features as much as possible, your localizer will not have to search high and low for target text equivalents. This means he will finish the translation sooner and might reduce the price a little as well. You could ask your localizer himself to neutralise the materials, but creating English culture neutral content that is then translated, will significantly shorten development time and decrease costs.

Pay attention to cultural differences

So many different countries, so many different cultures! Every culture comes with its own values that you should take into account when localizing your e-Learning materials. This holds for the texts in your course, but also for the images. Did you know, for example, that the “thumbs up” gesture is regarded as insulting in the Middle East? When choosing pictures, it is thus wise to pick those that are as neutral as possible. It is also advised to avoid string concatenations, as not every language writes page “X of Y pages” the same. Opting for “X/Y pages” is safer.

Minimise the amount of audio and video

From the perspective of the user, it seems like a good idea to make your e-Learning content as interactive as possible. However, this will greatly complicate the localization process. Think about it: if there are four audio or video clips in your course, and you want to have the content translated in four different languages, this means sixteen different dubbings or subtitlings. It is thus key to only use those clips that really support your content.

Rethink your visual strategy

Just because you are advised to minimise the amount of audio and video fragments in your e-Learning course does not mean you should provide your employees with content that could double as soporific reading for insomniacs. You can easily include graphs and other images that spruce up your content. Be aware of the pitfalls that come with these features, though: if you put texts in graphics, these consequently have to be translated, which will cost you more than a regular text translation. The same goes for embedded texts in scripts; as this is quite costly to translate, this should be avoided. If it really cannot be bypassed, try to bundle the text strings in order for your translator or localizer to easily find them.

Be aware of language differences

You might think every language more or less takes up the same amount of space. However, nothing could be further away from the truth! A great deal of languages are more lengthy than English, especially when they are localized. Take for example Dutch, which is about 12% longer than English. Translated text might not fit into the box it’s intended for. Thus, make sure your web design can support longer texts. Pay special attention to boxes that don’t allow for much expansion such as horizontal navigation bars and menus. As not every language employs the same alphabet, it is wise to implement Unicode in your course to make sure all alphabets are supported. It would be a shame if your carefully crafted content suddenly features question-marked diamonds!

Instruct your localization company properly

As the saying goes, you get what you give. Giving your localizer poor instructions on how to translate the materials you have handed to him will thus not result in a fantastic new e-Learning course. No, to safeguard the quality of your content, you should give specific instructions and possibly provide reference materials as well. In addition, make sure you send your localizer all of the materials that need translation or localization at once; this will save you both time and money. The easier you make it for you localizer, the better your translation will be, so  make sure you supply the materials in editable formats as well.

Find the right people

The content of your e-Learning documents probably hasn’t been draw up by your office’s concierge, but by professionals who know what they’re doing. Then why not handle the translation of your course with the same tenderness, love and care? In order to localize your content properly, it is vital that you find a localizer that knows what he’s doing. Don’t be afraid to call in other local experts either – it only makes sense to have the legal terms in the French translation of your source by a French lawyer to double check the accuracy of your materials.

Keep it simple

It makes sense, but we cannot stress it enough – keep the technological structure of your content as simple as possible. Integrating content that stems from a great deal of different technologies may look nice, but also makes translation far more complex. Save your subtitled videos, time-synched audio and other fancy features for the English company newsletter!

Use systems that are universally applicable

Using one single system to manage the e-Learning courses in all languages saves a lot of time. This is why we advise you to use a multilingual Learning Management System. This way, your local staff can manage the delivery process of the course’s content in their own language, which they will probably understand better than a generic English system. In addition, it is wise to use different font properties per language. You can store these in one single place than can be accessed easily. If you are using web-based files such as XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), it a good place to start.

Do you need an e-learning platform or online education tool translated and localized? Click through to our localisation services page for more information on what we provide as a company.

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