5 Key Considerations for Effective Elearning Localization

Do you create great training content for your employees and customers?

If you have a sizable population of learners whose native language is something other than English, you may be doing them a disservice by not providing translated versions.

Presenting valuable training or educational information to learners in their native language is a fantastic way to improve the experience and the outcomes. With a little forethought and planning, your translated content can be just as effective as it is in the original language.

1) Determine Your Target Audience’s Requirements

Knowing you need to translate your learning content into Spanish is easy…but what kind of Spanish? Are your Spanish-speaking learners from Mexico or Spain? There’s a difference. What grade reading level should your content be translated to? Are you translating your content into a RTL (right-to-left) language, such as Arabic or Hebrew? Also, think about any cultural differences that you may need to consider.

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Will the images you used in your English course work or be appropriate for the new target audience? What about the voice for any audio portions? Would a male voice or female one be better suited in your translated version? A professional language service provider (LSP), experienced in elearning localization, can help you get a great finished product.

2) Look Beyond Just Content

Naturally, what you put in your elearning course is critical, but when it comes to translation, how you build it can be just as important. Here are some tips to consider on the front end that will make the translation process easier and less costly:

  • Keeping text out of images will mean you can avoid the extra expense of having to redo your images in your translated languages
  • Making sure your content is UTF-8 encoded will allow foreign characters to be displayed properly
  • Realizing that the amount of text can expand for many translated languages will mean you can allow more space in your design (ex. 15-20% for Spanish)
  • If you can avoid embedded videos, you will not need to add complex audio or subtitle synchronizations to your project

3) Consider Content Changes for Your Localized Versions

It’s one thing to translate your content from one language to another, but even if the translation is grammatically correct and understood by the target audience, it still may not be effective because the content does not fit your new learners’ experience.

Consider this example: you have a course on fire extinguisher safety that was written for a U.S. audience per OSHA guidelines. The course details all the different fire extinguisher types/colors and what they mean. You then have your LSP translate the course into German. The result is a great translation that every German can understand…with one problem. By law, every fire extinguisher in Germany must be red. So, while the content is translating accurately into German, it is not translated effectively because Germans do not have any yellow or silver fire extinguishers. A great LSP will have the knowledge and expertise to understand these needs beforehand.

4) Provide Your Translation Partner with Style and Pronunciation Guides

You know your business and content better than anyone else. Selecting an experienced and quality language service provider can go a long way in getting your learning content translated easily and effectively. But no matter how good your LSP may be, there will still always be information that you will need to give them to keep the workflow streamlined.

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There may be industry or even company-specific terms that should be used. How will acronyms be treated? Should they be left in English or translated? Will units of measure need to be converted to metric? Then there is the audio component. Do you want a male or female voice talent? How should they read the content? Is it better to have a more corporate read or a more personal, casual style?

5) Have a Clear Review Process and Use It!

Localizaing elearning content is truly a team effort. While your language service provider partner is an expert in translation and elearning programming, you are ultimately the one who needs to be happy with the end product. Designate a review team in advance that is a native speaker of the language you are translating into.

Make sure there is a clear process for documenting any edits and that a clear timeline for doing so is understood by all. Review any translated audio scripts before the voiceovers are recorded. That step alone can save costly and time-consuming re-records.

In the end, having an experienced LSP partner team with your SMEs and programming experts will ensure that your translated elearning courses will be effective and understood.

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