How To Translate Elearning Courses Without Increasing Production Time and Cost

Translating elearning courses comes with plenty of advantages—but can come at a high cost. In this article, Lisa Pudsey of Savv-e Learning (Elucidat’s Australian partner) explores how translating your training can expand your audience and improve communication, while not blowing out your budget.

Translating elearning

Ask yourself if a reasonable amount of people will need to access the course in a language other than English. If the answer is yes, then you should invest in translation.

Here’s why: Translating your elearning course is very achievable – and worth it! Contrary to what you may hear, it doesn’t have to be a timely and costly process.

Read on to learn about how you can make a seamless transition into expanding your valuable learning material.

Decide before you write

The project will largely be driven by the decision to make your content more globally accessible, so this decision will ideally be made as soon as possible. Those familiar with instructional design practices, scripting or storyboarding, understand the goal of making content as succinct and easy to digest as possible.

This is taken to the next level when content will be translated at a later date, so keep it clear, concise, avoid slang and colloquialism, and keep content culturally neutral. It’s important to remember that translators do not have the right to leave content out if the translation is already becoming too lengthy, so tackle this early on in the scripting stage.

It might be useful to consider providing the translator with summaries and glossaries to further assist with the translation of company-specific culture. Look into exactly how terminology will be translated as this will be used internally on an ongoing basis.

How to save time on elearning translation

The art of translating generally takes time but reusing graphics and videos shouldn’t. There will be some components (other than text) in your elearning course that will need reworking to ensure all elements are culturally specific, but designing media and interactions with translation in mind can save a lot of time in the development process.

Tips to save time:

  • Keep course activities and interactions culturally appropriate and always be ready for an increase or decrease in the amount of space taken up by text post-translation (depending on the language and characters used). By keeping the text on each screen to a minimum, you can reduce the risk of needing to add more screens when the translated text grows.
  • When developing videos, they should be built with enough time between screens so that there’s room to fit longer voice-over. Video narration and other audio components can become costly when they need to be re-recorded. This can be addressed by minimising narration, or using subtitles.

How to save costs on elearning transation

As far as authoring tools go, Elucidat is a user-friendly and cost-effective option for multi-lingual elearning as transcripts can be integrated to function as closed captions in videos. It also allows you to share your progress with stakeholders, gives them a chance to comment and provide feedback, whilst limiting their access (so they only see what you’re ready for them to see!).

Tips to save on unwanted costs:

  • Don’t use text in images. may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s key to saving time and money as text cannot be extracted from images.
  • Consider how your navigation and layout will look like when translated content expands the text screen real-estate. If you’re looking to avoid additional costs in rebuilding the framework of you elearning course, pay close attention to vertical and horizontal menus as the look and feel may be affected by expanded page titles.
  • Look at the way the screens are designed to ensure they will cater for variations in text length as a result of the translation. Remember some languages such as Arabic are read from right to left so ensure you carefully consider these implications in your screen design.

Don’t get lost in translation!

Get planning – your time and money depends on it. And always keep the value of your content at the forefront by involving stakeholders and SMEs throughout the process to maintain accuracy of content.

This is a contribution from Lisa Pudsey originally published on the Savv-e Learning blog. Learn more about Savv-e Learning, Elucidat’s Australian partner, by visiting their website.


Further reading on translating elearning:

Lisa Pudsey

Lisa Pudsey

Lead Instructional Designer at Savv-e
Lisa Pudsey
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