E-learning translation projects can be daunting when you have to create multiple versions of the same material, ensuring that each of them delivers the same quality for each language audience. There are a number of technical, practical and cultural factors you have to deal with, as well as the linguistic challenges that come with creating educational content for multilingual audiences.
In this article, we summarise seven e-learning translation best practices that will help you avoid common pitfalls, saving you time and money on every project.
E-learning translation best practices
The key to successful e-learning translation is having the right process in place. As with most types of projects, you’ll have an initial planning stage and then you’ll work through a series of steps that achieve your targets in the most efficient manner.
These seven best practices provide a general overview of what this process should look like:
- Plan ahead: This will allow you to create material in the source language that’s suitable for translation – for example, avoiding the use of slang and problematic terminology.
- Work with e-learning translation specialists who have proven experience in handling multilingual projects like yours.
- Pay attention to images: Avoid placing text within images, use culturally-neutral images and be careful with symbols – e.g. using the pound sign to represent money or wealth – as well as hand gestures that can have different meanings elsewhere.
- Use technology like machine translation, translation memory and a translation management system to make projects time and cost-effective.
- Localise your source code: Create your material with Unicode, define file types (e.g. HTML and XML) and avoid embedding text in scripts or other pieces of code. Create language files for each translation and use variables to call in the right language file based on user selection or geo-location detection.
- Localise your e-learning material to ensure all numbers, symbols, colours and other culturally significant aspects are neutral or adapted to suit each target market.
- Test your content before going live: Make sure you test your translated material with each target audience and get feedback before publishing anything live.
Of course, the full e-learning translation process is more complex than the seven pointers above and this is why it’s so important that you have the right team of experienced language experts on your side.
Making sure your e-learning translation targets are met
The e-learning industry is highly profitable, but even more competitive. Creating the most cost-effective translation process is important financially and also in terms of achieving reliable consistency and quality. However, the most important stage of the translation process is actually after your project is completed – the process of getting your content seen, used and approved by real-world users.
This is where your targets are either met or missed.
To ensure your targets are met, you have to guarantee the right level of quality is achieved in every translation. Every target audience needs to discover your content on the relevant channels, feel compelled to use it and then get enough value from it to take the desired action (buy the full version, share it with others, leave positive reviews, etc.).
These goals should be at the heart of your e-learning translation strategy – from the content creation stage through to the marketing and after-sales process.