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5 Tips for Efficient Translation of Narration of Online Courses

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5 Tips for Efficient Translation of Narration of Online Courses

It is common knowledge that effective narration adds instructional value to an online course. When an e-course is translated into a foreign language, it is important to ensure that the narration in the target language is as effective as its English version.

Translation of narration is often challenging because the translated text is not presented in the written form. The narrator plays a key role in efficiently presenting the information contained in the translated audio script to the learner.

Translators could contribute to effective narration in the target language by paying attention to the following aspects:

Symbols and abbreviations

Consider the following statement:

The experiment needs to be carried at 273⁰K.
This may not create any confusion when it is presented in the written form but could create issues when narrated.
There is a fair chance that the narrator may not understand the meaning of “K” in the above sentence. After all, narrators are not subject matter experts.
Here “K” stands for Kelvin, a scale of temperature.
Life could be made easier if the sentence is written as follows:
The experiment needs to be carried at 273 degrees Kelvin.

Consider another example:

The Pacific Ocean covers an area of 16.52 x 106 x km2.
Even the most mathematically skilled narrator is most likely to face problems with the above sentence. The sentence could be rewritten as follows:

The Pacific Ocean covers an area of 16.52 million square kilometers.

Ensure correct pronunciation

Proper pronunciation of words in the script goes a long way in enhancing the effectiveness of the narration. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the narrator pronounces the words correctly. This assumes significance when scientific terms that are not familiar to the narrator are included in the script. For example,

Bacilli are bacteria that cause tuberculosis.
Here, providing the pronunciation of the word “Bacilli” could help the narrator pronounce it correctly. The script could be re-written as
Bacilli * are bacteria that cause tuberculosis.
*pronounced as ba-sil-li
It is advisable to use folk phonetic script because the narrator may not be familiar with the phonetic alphabet.

Avoid the use of parenthesis

Parenthesis is a written expression that does not fit well in the speech form. The following sentence, if read aloud, could sound weird.

This system is known as Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC).

The sentence could be written in a narration friendly manner as follows:

  • This system is known as Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, or ENIAC. Or
  • This system is known as ENIAC, for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator.

Ensure mellifluousness

Using tongue twisters in the script could create problems for the narrator and affect the quality of narration. Consider the following sentence:

They are particularly concerned about the proliferation of malicious software.

In the above sentence, the repetition of the letters p, r and l could distract the listener. The following alternative could be considered:

They are especially concerned about the spread of malware.

Present information in a simple and direct manner

It is simple to read some expressions, but could be hard to comprehend. For instance:

The desktop computer, laptop and the mobile device cost $900, $750 and $478 respectively. This could be rewritten as follows:
The desktop computer costs $900, the laptop $750 and the mobile device $478.

Efficient narration of translated scripts helps retain the effectiveness of English version of the online course. I hope you find this blog useful. We would be glad to hear from you.

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