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17 E-Learning Translation and Localisation Mistakes to Avoid

Damian Hehir e-learning

17 E-Learning Translation and Localisation Mistakes to Avoid

You will need to translate and localise your e-learning courses if the people completing them are in different locations or speak different languages. However, translating and localising e-learning courses is a complex process. Here are 17 mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Translating Without Localising

Translating the text in your e-learning courses is not enough. It is also important to localise your content to ensure you take into account regional and cultural differences, making changes where necessary. It is important you do this to ensure everyone completing your course understands all the content, as well as to ensure you don’t offend anyone.

  1. Not Planning Ahead

As mentioned above, translating and localising an e-learning course is a complex process, so it should be part of your thinking and planning from the start.

  1. Writing Text that is Unnecessarily Complicated and Poorly Written

The more complex you make the text in your e-learning course, the more difficult it will be to translate. The best approach is to keep your sentences tight while using every day, concise language. Keep your paragraphs short too.

  1. Only Using Software

There is some great software available that is very effective at translating text. However, don’t rely on software alone, particularly if the topic is complex or requires significant involvement from subject matter experts. It is always better to have it checked by a human translator. In fact, for some courses and topics, it is better to avoid software completely.

  1. Not Using a System Font

Not all the fonts that you will have available when creating an e-learning course will work on all devices and systems. When a device can’t display the font in your course, it will use a default font that may cause issues with the translation. Therefore, a system font is usually the best option. Also, a system font is much more likely to include all the characters you need across the various language translations.

  1. Including Too Much Text on the Screen

The length of text on the screen can vary from language to language. For example, when you translate English text into another language, the number of characters required could increase. This fact can have an impact on the design of your course, where the text no longer fits. So, take this into account when designing each screen.

  1. Using Phrases and Words that Are Region or Culture-Specific

Using phrases and words that are culture or region-specific makes the job of the translator much harder. Also, the meaning of the text could get lost. So, avoid them where possible.

  1. Forgetting About Numbers

Different languages format numbers in different ways, so make sure you localise numbers in your e-learning courses too.

  1. Not Thinking About Text Direction

English runs left to right, but Arabic goes the opposite way, a fact that could have an impact on the design of your e-learning course. Remember, it can be expensive to make changes to the design of your e-learning course to accommodate translated content, so think about this point early on in the process.

  1. Forgetting About Audio Elements

Make sure you translate and localise the audio elements in your e-learning course, too, including audio features as well as audio in videos and animations.

  1. Forgetting About Text on Images, Animations, and Videos

It is common to use text on media elements in your e-learning courses, including images, animations, and videos. When localising and translating your course, you will need to make changes to these features too.

  1. Not Accounting for Subtitles When Creating Videos and Animations

A previous point on this list pointed out how text can differ in length depending on the language. You need to take this into account with on-screen design, but it’s important for subtitles in your animations and videos too. Specifically, create your animations and videos to ensure essential content isn’t covered up by subtitles.

  1. Using Text-Based Design Features Such as Word Clouds

Word clouds and other text-based design features can look great in the language they were first created in. However, the translated version can be very different, losing the impact completely. So, text-based design features are usually best avoided.

  1. Not Getting the Translated and Localised Content Checked By an SME

This point is especially relevant to complex topics and courses where some of the intended meaning or detail of the course is lost when it is translated. In these situations, it is always best to get the content checked by a subject matter expert after it has been localised and translated.

  1. Using Features Like Bold or Italicised Text

The use of bold and italics in English adds emphasis, but this doesn’t always translate well in other languages.

  1. Not Considering Icons Like Ticks and Stars

Icons that work well in one language might mean something different in another. For example, a tick, X, or star that makes sense in English might not be as clear in another language.

  1. Translating and Localising Too Early

Often there is a temptation to start translating and localising content early. However, you risk doing a lot of double work if you take this approach, as you might need to make changes to content that has already been translated. It is almost always better to wait until you have the final version of the course before you send it for translation and localisation.

Investing in All Locations

All learners completing your e-learning course should have the best possible experience, whether they are in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else in the world. This point is particularly essential for the effectiveness of the course. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in localising and translating your content.