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May 1

5 Best Practices for the Translation of eLearning Content

Beginning an eLearning translation project can seem like a daunting task. Issues regarding untranslatable content and complicated timing sequences can arise when working with specialized subject matter and various types of media, effects, and platforms. However, a localization project can run smoothly with planning and preparation. In order to ensure the fewest possible surprises and setbacks, there are 5 best practices that should be followed, each of which we will be covering in-depth in a series of upcoming posts.

  1. Create Easily-Translatable Content

In order to ensure that content will translate well and easily, the audience and tone of the source material should always be considered. The actual text used should be kept simple and read very well and clearly, without specific cultural examples and with as few idioms, metaphors, acronyms, etc. as possible, as these do not translate well. While something could make perfect sense in the source language, some phrases do not make much sense or could even be offensive in the target language. Keeping the content simpler will allow the quickest and clearest translation.

  1. Plan and Prepare for eLearning Translation

An eLearning translation project will run the smoothest when it is planned for ahead of time. Completing glossaries, scripts, and pronunciation guides may require more work at the beginning of a project, but taking these steps will facilitate a smooth translation process without the need to check in with the client as often. It also helps the linguist to set the tone of the translation that the client wants to get across to match their audience. Also, keep in mind that text often expands during translation, so allowing for that expansion during the design stage can save a lot of formatting time.

  1. Keep Media Simple

While graphics, video, and audio can make a training project very visually appealing, they also require a lot more work when localizing the program. Using text-free images and minimizing the use of audio, voiceovers, and time-stamped text and graphics will greatly reduce the time and effort spent implementing the translated content.

  1. Begin with Translation in Mind

If possible, the translation of the content should be planned from the beginning. Working with a linguist while writing the material allows changes to be made while the content is still workable, rather than trying to adjust a static document. This can save a lot of time and money that would otherwise need to be spent implementing changes. Planning for translation while writing can also ensure that programs are used which will work well with translation and allow for a smoother process overall.

  1. Prioritize Client Review

Client review by native speakers and subject-matter experts is extremely important, and should be planned upon from the beginning of the translation and continue throughout the entire process. This will ensure that the translated material truly represents what the client is trying to get across in both tone and content. It is much easier to implement changes during the translation process than after a final product is delivered.

Planning ahead is really the key to simplifying a localization project and ensuring the best experience for learners. By taking steps as simple as keeping the client involved, creating simple and appropriate content and media, and involving native speakers and experts in the process, valuable time and money can be saved during the localization process. Following these guidelines can help to ensure that the many moving parts can become the appealing, effective, and user-friendly program you’re aiming for.

Jane Mientkiewicz

As Language Services Coordinator, Jane manages Language Intelligence’s day-to-day interpreting, and assists with corporate language training for the Language School and managing localization projects. Jane holds B.A. degrees in Print and Digital Journalism and Spanish from Penn State University. After studying Spanish for 7 years, she lived and studied abroad in Granada, Spain during the fall of 2015. Besides writing, languages, and traveling, Jane has also had a lifelong interest in art, history, and music.


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