The secret is to start thinking about requirements at the outset, before you even approach an e-Learning translation vendor. These seven tips will save you time and money. You’ll reach your audiences effectively in culturally appropriate ways.
7 Tips for Translating and Localizing your e-Learning Program
- For Content
When writing content for your e-Learning program, it is best to begin with the end in mind. Anticipate that the content will need to be translated and localized. As always, make sure your writing is clear, concise, and consistent. Avoid being too wordy and using complex sentences. Then take it a step further by avoiding slang, idioms, or acronyms that whose meaning may be unclear in other languages. Providing a translation agency with a glossary or a term base will help with consistency and accuracy of content. This can also cut down on the number of unique words in your translation, which will, in turn, cut down on cost.
- For Images
Keep in mind that not all images are universal. Such things as road signs, gestures, or money symbols are not understood in certain cultures. If you are unsure, do some research. A cultural consultant can also help you decide what colors, images, symbols, or human representation to use for your multilingual e-Learning program.
- For Text in Graphics
Embedding text in graphics is a mistake. The text cannot be extracted for translation. A desktop publishing department would have to recreate a new layered image file, with the text as its own layer. This may also call for retouching of a graphic or photo. The result is added cost. A way to avoid this would be to provide editable source files such as PSD, INDD, or TIFF files; a JPEG is not an editable source file.
- For Layout
Keep “language expansion” in mind. Many languages such as Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese can add 20 percent or more to the word count. Make sure your course is designed to handle this expansion. White space is your friend. Text boxes, frames, and other potentially-restricting areas are not. Areas to be cautious about are navigation bars, drop-down menus, and links.
- For Fonts
Provide fonts if at all possible. With literally hundreds of fonts out there, a Desktop Publishing department will want to make sure they have the right ones that you want to keep your layout consistent. As a client, you can also recommend (or ask for recommendations) on matching source English fonts with the best character fonts.
- For Flash Files
If you are using flash in your e-Learning program, be sure to provide editable source files. A SWF file (.swf) is not a source file, but a FLA (.fla) is. When giving a translation agency files, provide both, and make sure the names match up with one another. Doing so will allow a more accurate quote for cost and time. Always provide source images and fonts used in flash files.
- For Audio/Video Components
If possible, provide your translation vendor with a script ahead of time. This will save a lot of time. Providing a script could also eliminate transcription costs, saving you money as a client. Be specific about what you want – a male or female linguist, a certain type of accent. Do you want subtitles or do you want fully dubbed videos? If you had your audio/video content outsourced originally, make sure you have those source files from them. A translation vendor will need those, not just the final file!
If you take these seven components into consideration, then the translation and localization of your e-Learning program will run a lot more smoothly. Being aware of the localization process before you develop your content, as well as what you need to do when working with a translation vendor on the front end will help save you time and cut down on costs. Not only will the overall process be more efficient, but it will also lead to a quality, multilingual e-Learning program that allows your course to reach learners across languages, countries, and cultures.