Instructional Design

Translating eLearning For International Audiences

We have developed a process and set of tools that helps you prepare scripts for localization and translation.

5-Step Process For Translating eLearning For International Audiences

Our translation services include a custom process and tools that support efficient translation work for your content. We can do the work for you or provide you with the tools so you can convert your content.

Our Process

At the beginning of any project, our team meets internally to anticipate and plan for all needs in each project phase. At the start of our project for Choice Hotels International, we knew the client wanted to roll out the training—including microlearning modules, short videos, and job aids—to their U.S. audience first. Next, we knew we would engage our translation partner to help us prepare localized learning assets for the client’s international audiences. With that in mind, we developed a 5-step translation process that fits well within our larger development process. You could either use it verbatim or modify it to meet your translation project’s needs:

  1. Produce and release courseware in English.
  2. Identify other language targets.
  3. Use a checklist to identify specific learning assets that require translation.
  4. Provide localized scripts for stakeholder approval.
  5. Produce iterations of the courseware for stakeholder review.

Translation Checklist

As part of our translation toolkit, we created a checklist to help us identify and keep track of the learning assets and media files that require translation. If you decide to develop a translation checklist, it should identify the following:

  • Learning assets previously launched in English
  • Learning assets that require translation (and into which languages)
  • Media files within the learning assets that require translation (e.g., audio, graphics, PDFs)
  • Course navigation features that require translation

Shown below is a segment of our translation checklist:

Translation checklist


Guidelines For Writing Localized Scripts

Did you know that writing your initial script in English with localization in mind can save 10 – 15% in localization costs? The volume of words generally prices translation services, so the most cost-effective way to prepare a script for translation is to write clearly and concisely. In other words, avoid ambiguity by keeping the following simple:

  • Terminology: Instead of trying to “spice up” your phrasing, use the same term to describe a concept throughout the script.
  • Phrasing: Avoid long, complex sentences and phrases.
  • Word choice: If you can replace a string of words with one word, go for it! For instance, use “observe” instead of “look at.” Also, avoid acronyms and mnemonics, which generally do not translate well.
  • Content: Generalize or flag content in the English script that needs to be removed or modified for international audiences, such as references to US money, imperial measurements, or US date formats.
  • Visuals: Whenever possible, keep the text on the page or screen instead of a graphic. However, if your graphic needs to include text, allow enough space for the text to contract or expand and try to limit the text to captions or callouts instead of embedding them in graphic elements.
  • Timing: Syncing audio to visuals in eLearning videos is one of the most time-intensive production tasks. Consider simplifying the number and length of time elements to speed up the production schedule and lower costs.

Share these tips with your writers at the beginning of a project to help them avoid ample revisions later during the localization process. Your translation and localization provider may also have additional tips for you.

If your team plans to write for global audiences often, consider training your writers to use Simplified Technical English (STE). This is a controlled language with writing rules and a dictionary of controlled vocabulary. It is designed to help non-native English speakers understand English documentation easier; however, due to its clear and concise nature, it can be more easily translated and localized.

When To Incorporate Translated Audio

After our clients approve localized scripts, we produce a version of the course without audio for our stakeholders to review. Then, after incorporating their edits in the text and graphics, we record and incorporate the audio for the next review. This saves our clients time and money associated with translations.

If you need to develop eLearning for a global audience, consider using our 5-step process and tips for translating eLearning for international audiences. And, as always, if you have any questions or additional “tricks of the trade” to share, we’d love to hear from you!

This article was originally posted on eLearning Industry; view it here.

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