Globalization and eLearning Translations
Globalization has indeed, proved to be a boon for the corporate organizations, as seen by the fact that in 2011, the world’s 500 largest companies (called the Fortune 500) pulled an average of 40% of their revenues from non-domestic markets (Tully, 2012).
Though thoughtfully translated, development of eLearning translations is facing a number of challenges. I have collected some of the common obstacles, faced by our developers here in Commlab India. Let’s discuss each of these common obstacles in content translation and localization, so as to eliminate the risk of rework.
Research points out that people from different cultures learn differently. So, we just cannot roll out an e-learning course in English language across countries. If we want learning to be effective, we need to customize the course to suit different cultures. Does it mean that we need to make multiple versions of the same course to suit that many cultures? If so, will it not become prohibitively costly? The answer lies in designing a course that is culture neutral or culture agnostic. Let’s see how.
English is used by a lot of people in many countries; it is the default language used in international trade. Consequently, with companies spreading globally, English became the accepted language for training a global workforce. However, it has been found that people learn better through their native language and the reasons stated are varied. I will touch upon some of them here.
Translations are in demand as a result of globalization. Companies are expanding all over the world, to explore new market opportunities. Many of our clients ask us to have their content translated into different languages.
As a part of my research in translation, I analyzed various translation jobs we had taken up and found that there were three languages that accounted for maximum volume. Most of our Fortune 500 clients wanted us to translate their content into Chinese, Spanish and German. There are some other languages like French, Arabic, and Japanese, which follow next. However, as shown in the pie diagram below, Chinese language is most popular target language (40%) with German and Spanish occupying equal share (30%) as target languages in translation.
In a previous article I spoke about concerns when using internal staff for translations. The next alternative is giving translations to an outside vendor. A Translation vendor plays an important role in ensuring the accuracy of the translated content. However, if the vendor is not qualified for the job, the translated content may not be as effective as the original content and in a worst case scenario, be misleading. Here are some guidelines for criteria, which need to be taken into consideration when selecting a vendor for translation.
I have seen few global companies getting their content translated internally with the help of their employees, who know the target language. The reason could be many; one of them being easily available resource (no immediate cost involved), who are familiar with company information. But the question is, are they qualified enough to be depended for professional purposes?
Audio is the soul of eLearning courses; it connects the learner with learning content. Using audio narration in translated eLearning courses undoubtedly enhances the effectiveness of the course. Audio narrations are helpful in improving the effectiveness of translated courses in the following ways:
Companies implement different kind of training programs for their employees. Some types of trainings need to be modified and translated to reach the target audience effectively. Two of them are compliance training and product training. Let’s see in detail about the training programs and the reasons they need to be translated.
In the last few months I have read many articles on machine translation while researching in my realm. These articles prompted me to share my thoughts on the reality of machine translation. If you are looking to translate your websites and documents in a short span, you can find plenty of tools available on the internet. There are tools like FoxLingo, Beolingus and Translate 2.0. Technology giants such as Google and Yahoo are offering free translation tools namely Google Translate and Yahoo Babelfish translation tool.