If you are developing e-learning modules and plan to use or market them in another country, translation and localization is a crucial step. People who are taught something in their second language, regardless of fluency, often think they understand more of the content than they actually do. To maximize impact, a well-implemented e-learning course should be delivered in the language of its users, using relatable examples and teaching styles.
Adapting e-learning modules for global audiences requires a number of considerations. Some of these are technical: your language service partner will need to export translatable text from Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, or whatever e-learning authoring software you are using. Others are cultural: will the images, examples, and scenarios used in the US be relevant to your audience overseas? If you are developing e-learning and intend to translate it, follow these global design best practices to avoid pitfalls both technical and cultural:
- Be sure your e-learning platform is Unicode compliant. This should not be an issue with the newer versions of popular e-learning tools, but if you are using an older version you’ll want to be sure that the content can be easily exported for translation.
- Create content modules that can be re-used and re-purposed, so that e-learning content will be usable across other platforms. DITA authoring tools will help maintain consistency and accuracy across files and over time.
- Neutralize content. No unnecessary jargon, geographical references, idioms, or jokes. If you must use acronyms, explain them. Use simplified English whenever possible, and follow best practices for writing for translation.
- Request pre-translation cultural consulting. A native language expert can review the English course prior to translation, and advise you on how to adapt images or concepts that are either unfamiliar or unacceptable to the target audience.
- Decide whether you will have the content reviewed in-house, identify your reviewer, and make sure they will have the time and the expertise to review it properly. Consult with your language partner to decide at which stages your in-house review would be most efficient.
- Develop and follow a style guide as well as terminology conventions. Make sure you have a handle on the stylistic principles to be followed in all languages, and prepare and vet glossaries of important terminology with your experts in each market using in-country review for this step if feasible.
- Automate the localization process. Your language services partner should use computer assisted translation (CAT) tools to extract and organize translatable text. Text that appears multiple times, like response categories, instructions, and/or information modules, will be translated once and automatically inserted in its proper place, saving time and money and insuring consistency.
Once your localized e-learning modules have been assembled, your translation partner can send them for in-country review and testing. This is a critical step for ensuring success by making sure that your e-learning program works properly for your native-language audience.
E-learning is an increasingly popular strategy for training a global workforce. If you have questions about the process, just ask – we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.