Translating training material for a multilingual workforce can transform the way a business operates. Aside from expanding your pool of potential talent, businesses operating internationally heavily depend on the accurate translation of training materials, instructions and guidelines.
eLearning allows businesses to create a single resource and then translate it for multiple languages, rather than reproducing hundreds or thousands of hard copies. The digital format also makes the translation process easier to work with at scale, but there are still a number of unexpected challenges to overcome.
Common traps to avoid with eLearning translation
Translating training material does not simply mean converting one piece of content into another language. It aims to create a learning experience that is engaging to each audience and relevant to both their linguistic and cultural backgrounds – as well as accurately translate information.
Much of the same information is relevant to each language audience, but there are instances where you need to adapt your content before translating it.
- Adapt your source content: Creating content for native speakers in one language naturally creates translation challenges, so review your source and adapt it for translation – e.g. simplifying complex vocabulary and reducing pronouns.
- Use translators with subject knowledge: Make sure you use language specialists with strong subject knowledge so they understand the contextual meaning of your content and accurately capture this in each target language.
- Localise your training material: Adapt the non-language elements of your training material (date formats, currencies, images including people, etc.) to make them relevant for each audience and more engaging.
- Adapt for local markets and cultures: Ensure the translated version of your training material always reflects the local laws, regulations and working culture of each market.
- Use the right tech: Create the fastest possible translation process, without compromising on quality, and guarantee consistency by using technology like translation memory and terminology management.
Following these steps will not just make your translated learning material more accurate in each language, but it will also make the content more relevant to each audience. In many cases, this can be a legal requirement (e.g. safety instructions) but, even when it isn’t, it is needed to deliver information in the most engaging and memorable manner.
Choose a language company that specialises in eLearning translation
As mentioned in the previous section, eLearning translation is not merely converting content into other languages. Your aim is to create an effective learning experience in multiple languages which can come with a wide range of local and cultural nuances.
This is not the same as translating an instruction manual. You need each audience to absorb, retain and ultimately apply the information provided in your training material and it takes specialist linguists with experience in translating training material to pull this off.
So the best piece of advice we can give you is to work with a language company that specialises in eLearning translation and understands the unique challenges it comes with. These challenges can even vary from one language audience to another or become more extreme as the linguistic and cultural differences increase.
For example, translating training material from English into Mandarin for a team in China comes with a wealth of legal, cultural and linguistic factors to consider that might not come into the equation for a team in France and many other EU countries.