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If you are looking to translate e-learning materials, there are many different aspects that need to be taken into consideration. It is very necessary not just to translate, but also to ensure that your materials have been carefully localised and adapted to the target market.

E-learning can cover many different types of learning materials. The main definition is that e-learning provides training and potentially testing materials in electronic format. One of the great advantages of this is that the person or people doing the training are not bound by a specific date, time, or even location. Additionally, it can be used for both collaborative and individual learning.

Within e-learning, you may just use plain text on screen, with participants able to follow this static text route through the training programme. On the other hand, it can be completely interactive experience, with contributions by and the ability to ask questions from a trainer in real time. Typically, e-learning materials will include some audiovisual and dynamic materials.

Translation, localisation and adaptation

We are not just talking about localising and adapting the text: you will need to take into consideration any special colours, images or effects that there are. Certain colours have certain connotations in different countries. In China, for example, red is a very lucky colour and it represents happiness, beauty, success and good fortune.

You also need to be careful with the content of the e-learning. Admitting “I don’t know” is distasteful to an Arab so make sure that phrases such as this are not included in your materials. Also, constructive criticism can be taken as an insult to an Arabic speaker and so you must be very careful not to include any materials that could cause offence.

You should also avoid any mention to case studies or other references that are specific to the original target market. For example, any references to the NHS (UK National Health Service) wouldn’t be understood in other countries.

Hints & Tips

Ensure that all your materials are very carefully localised and adapted in order to make them acceptable in your target markets.

Creating e-learning materials

When creating your e-learning materials in programs such as Captivate, Articulate Storyline or another authoring tool, always bear in mind that translations into other languages may well take up more space than the original language. If your materials are constrained in terms of space, this will cause issues with some languages.

If you need voice-overs, it is good to get some sample voices so that you can choose the most appropriate ones for your setting – we can provide samples for you. You will need to consider whether to have voice recordings or whether to go with subtitles.

Again, you will need to allow enough time when recording video or animating motion for someone in Spanish to be able to say their piece without having to rush through it. Typically, a translation into Spanish is quite a bit longer than an original English text. Subtitles are usually a précis of what is actually being said due to time and space constraints, so you will need to consider whether that will work for your materials or not.

If you have videos of people in your e-learning materials, you will need to consider the ethnic mix of the target country in order to ensure a true representation. Also, if you wish to offer Arabic, you would be advised not to include women in discussion with men.

E-Learning Materials

Preparation and planning

At Comms Multilingual, we are happy to provide you with advice in order to ensure that your e-learning materials can be successfully adapted for other markets. We like to work with you before you start putting together your e-learning materials, so that you can avoid any later issues when putting your e-learning into another language.

We can work with a number of e-learning authoring tools, including Articulate and Adobe Captivate. We also offer multilingual voice recording and subtitling capabilities.

Please contact us for a further discussion of your requirements.

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