Translation Pitfalls to Avoid in eLearning Videos

Published on May 4th, 2023


Translating eLearning content can open up your courses to international audiences. A quality translation strategy can multiply your revenue potential, but the opposite is also true: poor execution of eLearning translation will waste valuable budget, hurt return on investment (ROI) and potentially damage your reputation in valuable markets. In this article, we discuss some of the most common pitfalls when translating eLearning videos. Avoiding these will help you succeed where things may go wrong and protect your brand and company from some of the most expensive mistakes in eLearning video translation.

#1: Skipping the strategic planning stage

Arguably, the most important part of any translation project is the early planning stage. This is where you set out your objectives, identify the challenges you will face, form strategies for overcoming these difficulties and determine how to get the best return from your budget.

Unfortunately, skipping or rushing the early planning stage is also the most common mistake we see from eLearning publishers – and one of the most costly ones.

#2: Underestimating video localisation

Translating eLearning videos isn’t as simple as converting a text document from one language into another. A hard lesson for many eLearning publishers is that translation alone isn’t enough to translate video content.

How are you going to deliver this translation (captions, subtitles, voiceover, etc.) and how will you deal with the visual aspects of your footage?

Aside from translating dialogue in eLearning videos, any text shown on screen or in the footage also needs translating into the relevant language. Ideally, any scenes showing text in the footage (e.g. a diagram or text on a blackboard) should be remade or re-recorded to include the target language.

This way, you’re not simply adding subtitles to translate text on the screen that should be localised for each audience.

Take a look at the following article for more essential tips for video localisation:

#3: Forgetting about accessibility

Translation plays a key role in making video content accessible to a wider audience and this is particularly important when it comes to learning material. As an educator, you have a responsibility to make your eLearning courses accessible to people who may have hearing issues, learning difficulties and a variety of other challenges many publishers often overlook.

This should be considered in the planning stage of the translation strategy, whilst taking into account which translation methods to provide. By giving audiences a mix and choice of options (e.g. voiceover, captions and subtitles), you can make your content far more accessible.

You can also consider other strategies, such as providing translated video transcriptions, allowing users to choose the playback speed, using colours to increase contrast and many other similar viewer-friendly approaches.

Knowing which combined strategy to take starts with understanding accessibility and all of the tools at your disposal.

#4: Leaving translation as an afterthought

If you wait until the production of the eLearning video is complete to think about translation, you are probably leaving it too late. The issue is that it is often more challenging (and expensive) to translate a finished eLearning course than it is to produce the course with translation in mind from the very beginning.

This brings us back to properly planning the project before you begin. For example, if you end up with a lot of on-screen text in your finished eLearning video, you have limited options to translate this after production is complete. To make matters worse, you could have dialogue and on-screen text clashing, which would reduce your options even further and potentially force you to take a more expensive approach.

Alternatively, planning for translating from the very beginning allows you to design and shoot your course to accommodate translation. In that way, you will minimise clashing between on-screen text and spoken dialogue, shoot scenes multiple times to accommodate for each language and take other production steps that make the translation more successful and, ultimately, more cost-effective.

#5: Working with the cheapest translators

eLearning video translation is a specialised language service that requires a specific set of skills and expertise. As we explained earlier, translation alone isn’t enough to translate video content, so you need to work with the right language professionals.

Video translation includes a lot of technical audio and visual components.

For example, when adding subtitles to your eLearning videos, you’ll want a team of translators and subtitle engineers to make sure the synching is perfect in every language. Likewise, if you are planning to add voiceovers, you will ideally need a team of voice coordinators and translators, native-speaking voice artists and the relevant audio engineers to produce each voiceover track.

It is important to make yourself aware of how much it will cost to achieve the results your company and your project require – and check that you have the required budget available – before you initiate your eLearning project.

Do you need help translating eLearning video content?

If you need help developing the right translation strategy for your next eLearning video, feel free to contact our eLearning translation specialists by completing the form on our contact page.

Posted on: May 4th, 2023