In 2021 the global eLearning market was valued at $210.1 billion. And it’s only growing year over year. Naturally, this growth means businesses that are diversifying into other areas of the world and other cultures need to adapt these resources. They need them accurately translated.
But eLearning packages can be huge beasts of software. It’s one thing to translate the front end, the User Interface (UI), but what else do you have to consider to make sure things run smoothly with non-English speaking audiences?
At LinguaLinx, as a Language Services Provider (LSP), we’re used to helping guide clients through this process with their eLearning packages. What we see as a simple (okay, not always “simple” but always achievable) series of steps, we know other people can see as a seriously daunting task.
In this article, we’ll start at the beginning and look at the types of content that will need translating to localize your eLearning.
Written Course Material
The main course as the user experiences it. It’s important to not just translate this but to localize it. Of course, translation will get the job done, but localizing it means you’re making it specific to the audience’s local culture, values, and interests.
Using case studies and examples about what it’s like to live in the busy city of Barcelona is fine for the Spanish market. But when you’re translating into Chilean Spanish for learners in Valdivia, Chile, Barcelona references will only make it hard for them to relate to. They’ll also feel like second-class citizens, and that your company doesn’t care about them enough to tailor training for them.
A quick check on all the imagery within an eLearning program should always be part of the translation process. Make sure the images are relevant and definitely not offensive to the users.
For example, if you’re creating a call center in the African country of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), the imagery in your training should reflect the fact that women are banned from wearing miniskirts or pants.
Video And Audio Content
We try and make learning today as engaging and interesting as possible, which is why there is an increasing use of audio and moving-image content. Whether it’s an audio file, a video, or an animation, it all needs translating.
There are different options out there, from subtitling to voice-over to dubbing or recreating the content in its entirety. The best option depends on the type of audio or moving image content and on the budget. Recreating content from scratch tends to be the most expensive, and subtitling is at the other end of the spectrum.
Webinar Live Content
Some eLearning has live elements. Webinar-style modules that are streamed in at certain times. For these elements, you’ll need to consider simultaneous interpretation in the target languages.
Simultaneous interpretation allows you to have an interpreter, or series of interpreters, in a neutral location giving the audience a live interpretation of what the presenter is delivering.
Dialogue simulations with practice customers gives a role-play experience to the training.
Both the trainee and the role-player might speak the same language, but often interpretation will need to take place so that a trainer in another country can understand the exchange.
This is another area where simultaneous interpretation would work the best.
Don’t Forget To Translate “Under The Hood”
UI drives User Experience (UX). They’re both important, but UI, and therefore UX, doesn’t exist without the back end. What’s under the hood of your eLearning is what drives successful engagement.
Future-proof your content for your new market. It takes a bit longer, but having all of your source code and technical infrastructure translated means that if you need to adjust the eLearning in the future, you can do it in that native language. You don’t have to revert back to English and then go through the translation process again.
For example, if your training has cultural references to the new market – because it’s not just been translated, but it’s been localized – then having an English version of the training may be unnecessary. Do you need an English version of training that’s going to be delivered in a Muslim country with Muslim-appropriate imagery? Probably not.
And Everything Else
The types of material and the content delivery mechanisms are changing in the world of eLearning all the time. Things like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), or games (gamification is on the increase as the X-Box and PlayStation generations mature) all bring their own challenges and all need to be carefully considered when it comes to translation. After all, translation is not just changing words from one language to another; it’s keeping meaning, context, and intent intact too.
The bottom line is it all needs to be translated. The whole package. From the pretty flowers that people look at and engage with to the roots deep below the surface, making sure all the nice visual stuff keeps working.
Words, images, audio, video, graphics, help guides, and all of the coding that delivers it needs to be translated (and preferably localized) to make sure your eLearning has the best chance of doing its job.
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