7 Secrets For Effective Online Course Translations

7 Secrets For Effective Online Course Translations
Summary: With globalization, organizations today are entering new markets and territories. Good translations of online courses play a key role in imparting effective training to multilingual workforce. Read this article for 7 tips that’ll ensure smooth translations of online courses, at minimal costs.

Effective Online Course Translations: How To Translate Your eLearning Material Successfully

In recent years, the number of non-Anglophone users of the internet has increased considerably. A recent study showed that English speakers constituted only 25.5% of the global internet-using population [1].

Various languages such as Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic are fast expanding their footprint on the web. The phenomenal growth of the ‘multilingual’ internet is compelling many companies to translate their online content into several languages, and e-learning courses are no exception.

How can firms render online courseware into the desired languages effectively? What does it take to translate web-based learning materials, rapidly, with minimal expenditure? This article shares 7 proven tips.

1. Have A Clear Idea Of The Target Audience And Their Needs

This is the first and inarguably the most important aspect you need to consider when you embark on translating your technology-enabled learning resources. Spare no efforts in gaining a good understanding of your learners and their cultural background. Then, divide learners into various groups based on their country, language, and cultural preferences.

For example, three languages are spoken in Belgium, by people with varying cultural backgrounds. You need to allow your learners to select their preferred language, rather than their nation, for better targeting.

2. Make Sure Your eLearning Course In English Is Translation-Friendly

It is important to ensure that your online course in English is designed to facilitate hassle-free translations. You need to focus on three vital aspects when you design a web-based course.

  • Formulation of a culture-agnostic eLearning design strategy.
  • Use of international English, devoid of idioms and references to sports.
  • Selection of images that do not depict any specific culture.

3. See That You Provide For Expanded Text

In many cases, the text of the translated eLearning course is longer than the English source. For example, the text in certain languages such as German is longer than the text in the English version of the course. This can result in problems, if the text container cannot accommodate the expanded text.

To overcome this problem, you need to provide adequate whitespace, when you create the English version of the online learning material. Furthermore, you must ensure that the navigation bars, menus, and other text holders are flexible and do not cause issues while developing the course in target language(s). This is necessary to prevent re-work, which could take considerable time and money.

4. Follow Internationally Accepted Standards

You need to follow international standards and conventions when you design the content of your web-based course to facilitate its easy, effective translation. Elements of the content that need to be internationalized include the User Interface, date and currency display formats, and more. Using internationalization standards goes a long way in preventing learner confusion.

For instance, in the USA, the date 10 July, 2016 is written as 7-10-2016. However, in India it is written as 10-7-2016. Things will be clearer if the date is written in the internationally accepted format (YYYY-MM-DD) i.e., 2017-07-10. If it is not possible to use the internationally-used date format, then it is better to spell the month in words (10-July-2017).

5. Provide Good Reading Experiences To Learners

This is an important, and unfortunately, one of the most neglected aspects while translating eLearning courses. People in different countries are habituated to reading text in different ways. For example, learners in West Asia and North Africa are accustomed to reading text right-to-left. Likewise the text in some languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean is read vertically.

You must make sure that various “reading orientations” are taken into consideration when you translate your online courseware to facilitate good learning experiences.

6. Provide A Style Guide And The English Version Of The Online Course To The Translator

You need to provide the translator a style guide and other reference materials, which contain an explanation of the terminology, abbreviations, and other linguistic elements used in the eLearning course. This goes a long way in reducing the time needed for translation and helps improve the quality of the translated content.

Similarly, it is advisable to provide the English version of the web-based course to the translator. The English course will help the translator understand the content better as the course contains all visual and other media elements.

7. Ensure Effective Coordination Between All Stakeholders

It is important to explain the objectives of the online course translation to and clarify the queries of the translator. It is advisable to appoint an experienced person as the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to liaise with the translator and facilitate good coordination. Similarly, the SPOC can interact with the reviewer to ensure that the review of the translated eLearning content is completed on time.

Good translations of web-based courses play a key role in imparting effective training to your multilingual workforce. Following the tips listed above will surely ensure excellent translations of your online learning courseware.


  1. Internet World Users By Language
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