5 Tips for Effective Translation

5 Tips for Effective Translation

5 Tips for Effective Translation

How could an eLearning program effectively reach a foreign learner? How could we efficiently translate an online course?

The globalization of business has resulted in the need to provide effective corporate training in multiple languages. Companies seek online courses that could be easily translated to fulfill the learning needs of their non-English speaking personnel.

Developers of eLearning solutions could make their programs translation friendly by focusing on the following five aspects.

Generate content that can be easily translated

Learning content needs to be concise and clear. The use of short bulleted lists is preferable because it is easy to translate short sentences.

Content writers need to avoid idioms and slangs because their meaning could be unclear to foreign learners. It is advisable to provide a glossary of terms to the translator. This helps avoid confusion and improve the accuracy.

Use universal images


The developers of online courses need to avoid the use of unfamiliar images and symbols to prevent confusion in learners. Pictures depicting road signs and symbols denoting money need to be avoided because they could be unfamiliar to foreign learners.

For example, a Japanese learner may not readily understand the dollar sign that is used as a metaphor for money.

Avoid embedding text in graphics and script


Text that is embedded in graphics cannot be extracted for translation. A new image needs to be created. This could be time-consuming and expensive.

Similarly, embedding translated content throughout the script could cause problems. Some of the content could be lost and alignments could be faulty.

To overcome these problems, an English template of the course is prepared and sent to the translator. The content from the translated document is copied into the rapid authoring tool for publishing the course.

Be aware of the “expanding text”


Our experience showed that in certain cases the length of the translated text is more than its English equivalent – sometimes longer by 20%.

It is important to ensure that this expansion of text is factored into the design of the eLearning course. The white space needs to be used judiciously. The designers need to be careful about navigation bars, dropdown menus and links.

Build the courses on unicode


The benefits of using Unicode are manifold. It helps support the characters of target languages in a hassle-free manner. It eliminates the need for generating separate releases for regional markets. This reduces the development cost of the online course substantially.

Furthermore, Unicode is supported by all modern technologies and facilitates consistent processing of text and ensures interoperability and portability.

Efficient translation of online courses lends consistency to global training programs of multinational companies by retaining the effectiveness of their English versions. What, according to you, contributes to a good translation? We would love to learn from your experiences.

View Presentation on What is eLearning?