How to Translate E-Learning Courses Effectively

Published on June 29th, 2022

Translate E-Learning Courses

Translating your e-learning courses can help maximise their reach and improve the learning outcomes for multilingual audiences. In today’s digital landscape, your courses can reach people around the world and you can target foreign-speaking markets with an effective translation strategy.

In this article, we explain the process you need to follow to translate e-learning courses effectively – so you can reach more people, generate more revenue and maximise ROI.

How to prep your e-learning courses for translation

The first step of effective e-learning translation is to prepare your content for the translation process. Ideally, the preparation of content should begin during the early stages of development because this will allow you to create content that is suitable for translation from the beginning.

This reduces the preparation workload, reduces the risk of technical translation issues and makes the whole translation process easier and faster (i.e. more cost-effective).

For example, coding your content for translation from the beginning is good practice that helps to avoid any unnecessary development revisions further down the line. Likewise, you can adapt visual content to make translating easier (no hard-coded text, check suitable fonts are available for each language, etc.).

We have previously discussed in this blog that early planning is the best thing companies can do to maximise the effectiveness of e-learning translation. Here is a quick list of some of the key things you can do to prepare your e-learning content for translation:

  • Remove embedded text from images
  • Selects fonts for each language (check support for all characters)
  • Prepare for text expansion – expect ~20% increase from English into other languages
  • Leave plenty of space between elements (also helps text expansion)
  • Make source files editable
  • Provide context for every line of content
  • Build a glossary of key terms
  • Edit your content by removing unnecessary words; simplify language, etc.

Above all, discussions with your language service provider (LSP) should take place, including talking you through all the necessary steps you need to take to prepare your content for translation. Again, involving your language service provider during the early stages of project development, will help them ensure that you develop content that is ready for translation without any major modifications.

Also Read: Seven most common eLearning translation mistakes

11 steps to translate e-learning courses effectively

As mentioned earlier, the most effective e-learning translation processes start during the early stages of content planning and development. To illustrate this, here is a look at what an 11-step translation process may look like:

Define your audiences:

Specify your target audience(s) for each course.

Determine their needs:

Analyse the needs of each audience, paying attention to anything unique about their local market (legal requirements, cultural factors, etc.).

Select your languages:

Determine your target languages for each course, based on your audience and the market research conducted.

Localise your content code:

Optimise course codes for translation with a languages folder and separate files for each language. This allows you to call in language files using variables (this helps you edit and add new language files independently).

Develop your source e-learning content:

Now you’re ready to start developing your e-learning content in your source language.

Prep for translation:

By planning for translation from the beginning, your course is already well-prepared for translation, so all you need to do now is to run some final checks including simplifying any complex language, setting definitions for specialist terminology, identifying any potential translation issues, etc.

Translate your content:

Translate the text in your e-learning material into each target language.

Localise your content:

With your text translated, localise it to deal with text expansion and adapt numerical values for each target location (dates, currencies, contact details, etc.).

Localise visual elements:

Translate and localise visual elements including images, graphics, data visualisations and video content.

Review & test:

With the initial translation process complete, review each language version using a professional proofreading service to assess quality and test them on sample audiences.


With your e-learning courses translated and ready for release, the next step is to develop your multilingual marketing strategies to promote them to each language audience.

The most efficient translation processes are integrated with planning and development to guide key decisions early on. For example, by working with an experienced LSP, you can assess the business potential of target markets against the translation challenges, such as linguistic distance, text expansion and cultural factors that could require content adaptation.

If you have recently developed an e-learning course or training programme and you are only thinking about translation now, feel free to get in touch with our e-learning translation experts who can provide some advice. At translate plus we have extensive experience in translating e-learning materials for leading brands and training providers, and the required tools to help you translate existing content. We can also help you develop a translation strategy for future courses that creates an even more effective and profitable translation process.

Get in touch with us about your next e-learning translation project by filling out the form on our contact page, detailing your requirements or to set up a first conversation.

Posted on: June 29th, 2022