Translate, localize, teach – how to make your e-learning content truly international

The Internet has made the world smaller and has brought people closer. It also contributes greatly to your company’s development by enabling you to educate your employees worldwide at any time. Since the Internet has made it so easy for you, it would be a pity if you got lost in translation. That’s why you have to localize your e-learning courses.

But before sending your educational materials out to the world, you need to learn something yourself.

1. Think big

A perfect e-learning localization project starts already at the time of content creation. Not only does it make it easier, but also more cost effective. How?

First, remember that the content must be translation and localization friendly. It means that when creating and implementing it, you have to bear in mind that it’s going to be spread internationally, hence  it should be customizable to each market. If you plan it ahead, the whole process is going to be much smoother.

Second, determining the target markets, target languages, deliverables, technology in use and in general all your expectations, will help you find and then work with the right language service provider. It also gives you a solid ground for price negotiations, making localization more fit for any budget.

2. Think money

What comes to your mind when you hear “machine translation”? Ridiculous Google translate results? You are right to some extent, but you should know that modern translation agencies use machine translation too. Don’t be scared of it, embrace the opportunity it gives you!

Some content is more suitable to be translated by machine than another. If your materials contain a lot of repetitions or your training video or manuals consist of simple instructions, then your project and machine translation are a perfect match! Ask the translation agency for PEMT (post-edited machine translation). In this case a human translator will review, edit and proofread what has been previously translated by a computer program.

This way the translation is done faster and cheaper but the quality is still the same.

3. Think design

As we said in the first paragraph, the content should be localizable. It means that the text, graphics, videos, animations or maps should be prepared in such a way that they are easily adaptable to other languages and cultures.

Remember that some alphabets require more space than others. Or that the layout of an e-learning platform should look differently for markets where people read right to left or vertically.

So design wisely and a change from Japanese to German shouldn’t have much impact on the original content.

4. Think technology

The e-learning software has usually two versions: the editable one and the published one. Remember to share the editable source version with your language service provider. If you don’t have it, it may be necessary to build the localized version from scratch or to introduce major changes into the original software.

5. Think culture

While designing the content of e-learning software you need to be culture-sensitive. It means that you should avoid tricky graphics or ambiguous jokes. But not only this. If you want your e-learning course to be really effective, it should be relatable. So don’t send an American an animation with Brits driving on the left side of the road, and make sure that a sales team from Germany won’t be taught how to make a pricing in yens. Not only will cultural relevancy make the learning process more adequate but also more user-friendly.

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