eLearning Translation: 8 Top Tips For eLearning Professionals

Tips For Effective eLearning Translation

Translating content for your eLearning course is rarely an easy task. However, it can offer you the opportunity to reach an entirely new international audience and make your eLearning company a globally recognized brand. To make the process more effective and less resource-draining, here are some invaluable tips and tricks for eLearning translation.

  1. Think about localization when you're creating content.
    Long before you actually begin translating your eLearning course, localization should be a consideration. In fact, when you start developing your eLearning content, think about the translation process that you will have to go through at some point. For example, when crafting content, avoid lengthy paragraphs and break text down into bullet points. Also, try to avoid common translation mistakes, such as using acronyms, if at all possible, and never use expressions as each language, country, and culture have their own common sayings.
  2. Leave plenty of room for translated text.
    Bear in mind that translated text could take up more room than the original version. For example, if you are translating from English to French, German, or Spanish, text can be up to 20 percent longer. On the other hand, character-based language, such as Chinese or Japanese, may take up about 15 percent longer. This means that you will want to maintain a text/white space balance, so that you won't have an abundance or shortage of empty space when translating. So, if you are translating your eLearning course into French, and you find that you just don't have enough room on the screen to fit the text, then you'll have to devote precious resources to reformatting.
  3. Decide whether to use subtitles or voice overs.
    One of the most important decisions you'll have to make during the eLearning course translation process is whether you'll go with subtitles or voice overs. While subtitles may be more cost efficient, voice overs may be more effective. Ultimately, the needs of your international learners, your instructional design approach, and, clearly, your budget will be the deciding factors.
  4. Enlist the aid of a subject matter expert when narrating translated text.
    If you are planning on narrating your text in the local language, you may want to ask your subject matter experts for help. They can give you an idea of how to pronounce problematic words, as well as pointers on which subject matter highlights you can exclude or add. For example, if you are designing a compliance online training course for an Italian company, they will probably have different rules and regulations than their English branch.
  5. Acronyms and jargon: when in doubt, ask!
    There are going to be instances wherein you may be in doubt as to whether the text you are working with is going to translate well. Whenever you are in doubt, ask the client, a translator, or the subject matter expert. For example, if you are dealing with an eLearning course that includes acronyms or technical jargon, these terms may be completely different in the local language. As such, you will need to replace them with the appropriate terms in order to make them understandable and relatable to your audience. If at all possible, speak with a local who is well versed on the topic to get a sense of what terms may commonly be used; there are some terms that may be in the dictionary or Google Translate, but they may not be the most popular or widely used.
  6. Keep the text on the page and out of graphics.
    If you are using images in your eLearning course, be sure to keep text out of them and strictly on the screen. This will save time and resources down the line, thanks to the fact that you won't have to add the translated text to the image itself and re-upload it into the system all over again when localizing. Also, be careful about cultural references when choosing your free stock images. For instance, while a handshake may be perfectly acceptable in most parts of the world, there are some regions that may opt for other forms of professional greetings. Last but not least, try to avoid using images that include region-specific items, such as street signs or money, as these simply will not be relatable to your new audience.
  7. Choose the right font.
    It's best to use a universal font that can easily be converted to the local language. For example, if you use Arial, or another type of Unicode font, the text will show up correctly when translating it to languages that don't use the Latin Alphabet, such as Chinese or Russian. Also, avoid using elegant fonts or those that may be too distracting for the learner, as this will take away from the overall eLearning experience.
  8. Timing transitions is essential.
    This is a golden rule if you have audio or video included in your eLearning course. You need to time the translated text, whether you use subtitles or voice overs, to sync up with the multimedia that you have chosen. To do this, you may want to create a script that includes transitions, so that you can identify timestamps for the translated audio. You can also create a detailed outline that maps out every screen of the eLearning course, as well as its current display time, so that you can figure out how much text you can fit into the page without going over the allotted time. Last, but not least, pay attention to line breaks and figure out where you will need to cut the words by speaking with a translator or a subject matter expert.

Follow the above eLearning translation tips and you will be able to successfully localize your eLearning course in order to offer your global audience an effective and engaging eLearning experience.

Want to learn more about the advantages of eLearning localization? Read the article eLearning Localization Benefits and Tips, which highlights the most significant benefits you can expect to receive by localizing your eLearning course.

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