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January 16, 2019 |

How to Minimize Errors in eLearning Translations

Using e-learning translation is an excellent way of giving access to updated information and training all staff members, regardless of the language they speak. You can reduce costs and make sure all employees receive the same quality information.

But at the same time, errors in e-learning translation can slow down the learning process and send the wrong signal to foreign collaborators.

Good e-learning translation can reduce the gaps between departments operating in different countries and create growth opportunities in places where quality training isn’t easy to provide.

Bad translations, on the other hand, can cause misunderstandings or even make your international students feel less important than their English-speaking co-workers.

This is why it’s essential to minimize errors in e-learning translation when planning to train your international staff. Here are some tips and tricks to help you maintain the quality of your courses in all languages.

Design Your Courses with Translation in Mind

The easiest way to minimize errors in e-learning translation is by having an excellent source text to translate. No matter how good your translators are, if the English version of your course is unclear, the translated versions will reflect all shortcomings.

If you work with multinational teams, design every e-course with translation in mind right from the start. This means that you’ll have to pay attention to all the details that could affect the translation process. These include:

  • Clear terms–the more specific you are in your original text, the easier it is for your translators to transmit the right message in the new versions of the course.
  • Short sentences–not only will they make learning smoother, but they’re easier to follow and translate by language specialists.
  • Content types–translating video and audio content takes more time and costs more than plain text. You’ll need to work with professional voiceovers, and with audio and video editors.
  • Embedded content–avoid using this because you’ll have to change all graphics and videos every time you translate the content into a different language.
  • Colors–they influence mood, and some of them even encourage learning and creativity. But people have different perceptions of colors, depending on their cultural background.
  • Space–in some languages, you need more words than in English to express the same concept, so make sure you leave enough room for text expansions.

As you can see, you’ll need to go beyond writing a text that is easy to translate! When preparing e-courses for foreign audiences, you’ll need to localize all your content.

It’s a process that will help you to make your courses more appealing to your public. E-learning localization allows you to communicate more effectively, as you learn to speak the same language as your audience.

Keep Cultural References to a Minimum

Courses meant for international audiences should use a neutral tone of voice and rely on ‘universal’ examples to illustrate concepts. When you’re too creative in your content, there’s a higher possibility for translators to fail in delivering the exact meaning of the original content.

Sports references and colloquialism aren’t just hard to translate, but also difficult to relate to even when the translation is impeccable. That’s because Europeans and Asians barely understand sports like baseball and American football.

Instead, write your content in a way that gives translators flexibility to adapt examples to local cultures. If your audience can make associations between the information they receive and past experiences, they’re more likely to remember what they learn.

Build an Exhaustive Glossary of Terms

When you build a glossary of terms, you give your translators essential clues and insights in your industry jargon. Together with your translation memory, this tool increases translation efficiency and minimizes errors.

Everytime translators have doubts about specific terminology, they can get the context they need from the glossary of terms. This reduces the research time and increases the accuracy of each e-learning translation at the same time.

Don’t Cut Costs in the Wrong Places

When translating what may seem like a simple e-course, you may feel tempted to cut corners and go for machine translation. Some new software is quite accurate, works fast, and costs a fraction of what you would pay for a professional team.

However, machines can’t replace human translation–not for now, at least. The translated version would lack quality, making the course hard to follow and understand. The course would end in your archives, and you would have to start all over, wasting significant resources and missing deadlines.

Give Translators Access to All the Source Materials

High-quality translations need context and background information. Share all the essential data with your language service provider, to give your translators and localization engineers the information they need to deliver an excellent translation on time.

A localization team with access to the source materials works faster and is more likely to maintain all the original formats of the e-course.

Set clear objectives for each training session, and tell your translators what to want to achieve. Give them data about the students–who will benefit from the course, the public’s geographical area (different regions may ask for specific language characteristics), education, and other details to help them understand the audience.

Test eCourses to Identify Errors in eLearning Translation

Before sending your courses out there, test them in small groups. This way, you can identify translation errors or bugs that could influence the learning activities.

Make sure the platform is flawless and that every person that follows the course can have an excellent user experience, regardless of their mother tongue. Put yourself in your students’ shoes and try to identify any technical details that could slow them down and keep them from learning.

Choose a Partner with Experience in eLearning Translation and Localization

All of the tips and tricks listed above can help you to minimize errors when carrying out e-learning translation. However, nothing can substitute a reliable language service provider and their experience in the industry.

Choose a team of translation and localization experts who have worked with similar projects in the past. People who have technical knowledge in your niche, are familiar with the industry terminology, and understand the expectations of your international students.

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