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eLearning: Translating training material for multilingual workforces

Published on July 3rd, 2020

With modern businesses comprising of multilingual workforces, there is a growing need for inclusive training that helps everyone do their job to the best of their ability. For international companies with workforces spread out across global locations, creating a centralised training programme that achieves consistency while also successfully adapting to local requirements can be challenging.

Thankfully, technology is here to help and online eLearning material makes content accessible to people around the world. However, you still need the right translation process to make this training material effective in every language.

eLearning translation best practices

Research from UNESCO highlights the importance of people being able to access learning material in their own language, in a publication aptly named Mother tongue matters: local language as a key to effective learning.

Here are some key best practices to help you deliver your eLearning material in the native language of every staff member.

  1. Work with eLearning specialists: Choose a language services company with dedicated eLearning services for translating your training material.
  2. Use simple, concise language: This will lead to fewer complications during the translation process.
  3. Prepare for expansion/contraction: Printed text will get longer or shorter via translation and the same phenomenon happens to spoken words.
  4. Avoid cultural references: These can cause unintentional offence or tension and it is generally safer to leave them out altogether.
  5. Localise your script before creating any visual content: This will mean any changes can be made without having to recreate/reshoot visuals.
  6. Localise your eLearning material: Ensure the non-language elements of your training material are adapted for local relevance.
  7. Test your material: Before you deploy your eLearning material at scale, test each language version on sample audiences to measure its effectiveness.

Above all, make sure you are working with a language services company that has dedicated eLearning services and the necessary quality controls. Translating training material for multilingual audiences requires a stricter process than companies may be used to providing on other types of projects.

Make the most of translation technology

Translation technology allows you to achieve the highest quality of multilingual content in the most time and cost-efficient manner. The larger and more demanding your eLearning translation project is, the more important it is to achieve this kind of efficiency – and there are a number of tools that can make this happen.

First up, we have translation memory, which stores your translated content and automatically finds instances where the same text is repeated. This is a common occurrence when you have multiple documents and it is a waste of resources to have linguists translating the same piece of content more than once (this can also result in inconsistencies). Translation memory automatically translates repeated content for you to cut down on wasted resources and ensure consistency is always there.

The next tool we need to talk about is terminology management and this is where we create a database of the keywords and phrases in your content, particularly any industry terms that have specific or unique meanings in the context of your training material. This is important because many words have multiple meanings depending on the context of their use. For example, a table can be something you eat or work at but it can also be a way of presenting data and the translation for these two use cases is very different.

Automatic translation is another tool that can be used in selected circumstances to instantly create a first draft for professional translators to edit and correct. This isn’t suitable for all types of content or language but knowing when to use automatic translation (and when not to) is a key attribute of today’s language professionals.

Finally, bringing all of this together is a translation management system (TMS) that makes all of your content accessible and manageable across every stage of the translation process. This is a key system that visualises your project, brings all of your content into a single interface and allows everyone to complete tasks and manage progress.

Follow the best practices we have outlined in this article, use the right tools and you will have no obstacles when translating your training material for multilingual audiences.

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Posted on: July 3rd, 2020