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March 7, 2019 |

Top 6 e-Learning Translation Best Practices

The e-learning market has seen significant growth, reaching $190 billion in 2018. As more people recognize the benefits of learning in their mother tongue, the demand for e-learning translation and localization has grown.

As with any localization project, e-learning translation and localization is a puzzle that has many elements to put together. If you want to deliver content with high usability across multiple markets, you need to know how to juggle many components, from formatting and document design to semantics and cultural aspects.  

Here are the top six e-learning translation best practices we’ve learned translating and localizing courses for our clients.

1. Understand How End Users Interact with the Content

The best courses involve a balance between what you want to say and what your end users need to hear. No matter how engaging your content may be, you’re less likely to reach your objectives if the end users have a hard time understanding what you’re teaching.

Understanding your audience and their approach to learning can make the difference between a good course and an excellent one.

It’s hard to find common ground when your course needs to reach audiences across multiple countries and languages. That’s why you need to know as much as you can about your end users and find what resonates with them regardless of cultural and language barriers.

Depending on the industry your course is for and the type of people who are going to learn from it, try to make educated guesses about learning habits, abilities, and interest in improving their skills. This way, you’ll produce a course that’s tailored to your audience’s specific needs.  

2. Design Your Course for an International Audience

When designing a course for multiple audiences, you need to consider all the different cultural aspects, as well as design elements that enable flexibility in e-learning localization.

Note that this doesn’t mean you need to design multiple course versions at once, but instead focus on a versatile product, which can be easily transformed to meet local expectations.

From a technical point of view, you need a flexible design that supports different text lengths depending on the target language and various locales, such as units of measures or time and date formats.

Colors and images, too, are crucial elements to consider when designing an international course. Your content shouldn’t offend any culture, so work with images that respect all local beliefs.

When it comes to text, try to keep a “neutral” voice. Use examples that are easy to understand worldwide, with no local references, religion or sport-related cases. Also, avoid using slang and idioms to reduce ambiguity in phrase construction.

3. Translators Need Context for Accurate eLearning Translation

Once you have a final version of your course ready, you can send it to your translators and localization engineers. Make sure you’ve double checked all source content before starting the localization project to eliminate the need for correcting errors in e-learning translation.

When sending the course for translation, make sure translators have all the details necessary for delivering excellent results. Discuss your strategy with your localization team. Explain the pain points the course addresses and what objectives you plan to reach in the long run.

Context is crucial for accurate translations. Provide a glossary of industry-specific terms to help translators maintain consistency across the entire course. If you don’t have one, allow your translators to gather all your terminology in one place. Not only will a glossary of terms help you with your current project, but it will also benefit your future localization projects.  

A translation memory (TM) helps you gather and store information, such as the glossary of terms and past localization projects, to reuse for future translations.

4. Give Translators the Source Files Right from the Start

Your published course may be good enough to help any translation team reach their own conclusions about the project, but it won’t tell them much about the volume of work required. On the other hand, having the source files helps translators to give you an accurate estimate on both costs and turnaround times.

Among the most frequent source formats, we work with Captivate, Storyline, and Lectora. e-Learning translation projects have various types of files, videos, graphics, and audio, together with support documentation and other resources. These are all diverse in nature and require working with different tools during translation.

The more your translators know about the source content right from the start, the easier it will be to respect deadlines and deliver accurate translations.  

5. Ask for Voiceover Demos

In e-learning, the narrator’s voice has a significant contribution to training. Bad narration can limit a person’s ability to remember the information learned during the course. This makes voiceovers a key factor in e-learning translation and localization.

Once you’ve sent all the files for translation, it’s good practice to ask for samples of the voiceover in each of the target languages. This way, your language service provider won’t record the entire course with a voice you don’t like or isn’t a good fit for your topic.

It’s a cost-effective way of avoiding working twice, missing deadlines and adding costs to your localization project. Moreover, depending on the type of course you produce and your target audience, you may want to subtitle the English videos rather than recording the voice in the target language.

6. Test Before the Course Goes Live

Testing with local teams is essential for all translation and localization projects, regardless of the scope or target market. e-Learning translation is complicated, and it’s common for errors to go by unnoticed.

When you plan on e-learning localization, make sure your budget includes several rounds of QA tests. This way, you’ll have error-free courses in all languages, which run as smoothly as the original version.

Final Thoughts on eLearning Translation Best Practices

Your international team members deserve high-quality courses, no matter what language they speak. With e-learning translation and localization, you can provide the same training worldwide, to increase brand consistency and reduce gaps between your international employees.

These best practices enable collaboration between you and your language service provider, which automatically leads to more accurate translations with lower costs and faster turnarounds.