If you’re a training manager in a global organization looking to make sure your educational materials reach all your employees, eLearning translation and localization may just be the answer. In this article, I’ll show you how to save time and money in your eLearning translation projects.
Although eLearning is highly extensible because it can be localized into your target audiences’ own languages, it can also be tricky. In this article, we’ll consider a few key points and simple guidelines you can follow to save time and money on even the most complex eLearning translation projects.
1. Planning Phase
Before you create your course, factor in all the languages that the course will be needed in. This will help you schedule the project and allow time for the course to be translated.
Inform your team.
Inform your team so they can design course materials that make it easy to translate. For example, use images that appeal to a range of cultures and audiences, not just a single group of learners.
Get input from all the stakeholders, including colleagues from the target countries. They can alert you to specific regional requirements that you can factor in from the start. They may have additional resources such as local office or site imagery that you can use.
Create a Master course.
Tools like Elucidat let you create multiple courses from one template. This saves you heaps of time. All you do is create the course one time as a Master, then for each language that the course is required in, you create projects from the Master course. This ensures all the content is included in each, ready to be sent for translation. No need to start from scratch when you create the course for each new language. [Related: How to use Master Courses (templates)]
2. Development Phase
Once you are into the development, there are few basic points to keep in mind.
Take care with your fonts.
When you create your Master course (from which all your translations will be built), make sure you select a universal font that can be converted easily to other languages. Unicode fonts like Arial will retain integrity when translated to languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet, such as Chinese or Russian.
Use a universal theme.
When you create your Master course, design the interface so that it can be usable by anyone regardless of their native language. For example, use icons or symbols on buttons rather than text to explain its function. Designing buttons that can be understood by all cultures and languages will save time versus having new buttons created for each of your required languages.
Steer clear of using or producing imagery that has text in it. Why? Because it will need to be reworked for each language the course is required in. Instead, use images that convey meaning without words.
For rich eLearning experiences, video, animation and voice over can be really effective media. You’ll need to consider the best way to handle these in translated courses if you don’t have the budget to have these re-recorded in local languages. Subtitles are one option, but costs will vary depending on the length and style of the video. The most cost-effective option is to provide a transcript in the target language to accompany audio or video content. Some eLearning tools, such as Elucidat, make it possible for you to integrate a transcript as an STR file so it behaves like closed captions with video content. This is really very user friendly, as learners are familiar with using closed captions for web-based applications.
Room for expansion.
Be aware that when you translate courses, the amount of text on the screen can increase. Screen real estate needs to be taken into consideration. For example, when you translate an English text to a language such as German, the character count can be as much as 30% higher. This could cause issues of overrun and make formatting a nightmare. eLearning tools that are responsive or let you easily adjust the point size of text at a global level can be real time savers. This will allow the text to automatically realign on the screen to accommodate the extra character or allow you to reduce the text size once, rather than have to format each screen manually.
3. Post Development Phase
Unless you have people in your organisation who can translate professionally from the source to the target language, you may need to employ an agency. The benefit of using an agency is that they will be experienced and have a pool of talent that will be able to cover all the languages you require. They’ll manage the process through for you, which will save you lots of time, but there are still a few ways you can help streamline the process.
Some eLearning tools make localization very easy. Translation features in Elucidat allow you to create a project for each of your target languages and export a file that can be sent to translation agencies. This file has all the content that is needed by the agency to translate into target languages. Once your agency is done, they just send back the file and you can import the correct one to your courses. The course is automatically populated with all the content in the target language. Some tools also allow you to automatically translate any text directly inside the user interface (anything on the screen that isn’t content, e.g., ‘Menu’).
Stakeholder and Subject Matter Experts (SME).
Prime your stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts to be your proofreaders and quality controllers for the courses developed in their languages. All they need to do is go through the course and sense check the text for accuracy and meaning. Tools like Elucidat enable you to share your projects with stakeholders while assigning roles, which restrict their access. This stops them from deleting courses! Furthermore, tools with inbuilt commenting make it easy for your colleagues to quickly and easily point out any issues of concern.
As the global economy expands, more organizations will find themselves grappling with the logistics of delivering online training to staff around the world. By taking into account these guidelines, you can help to ensure you can deliver on your eLearning translation requirements.
If you’d like to read more on the topic, head over to our article that explores more eLearning translation tips.
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