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Translation for eLearning: Why it matters

Translation for eLearning Courses: Why it matters

The Global Online Education Market (eLearning) is expected to reach US$ 585.48 Billion by 2027. This is primarily due to the introduction of more flexible, remote-learning processes in both the corporate and education sectors. Not surprisingly, translation for eLearning is also one of the fastest growing markets in the language services sector. Naturally, in an international market, training and education needs to be fully accessible to your employees and customers, wherever they are located.

Multilingual training and education is key to breaking down language barriers and ensuring your knowledge reaches a diverse international audience. Translating and localising your eLearning materials will maximise your reach, its’ impact, and your ROI (Return on Investment).

Translation for eLearning vs. Localisation for eLearning

Let’s begin by defining these two terms. Translation is the process of converting text from one language (the source) into text in another language (the target) without changing the meaning of the content. Whereas, localisation goes a step further. Localisation is the process of converting and adapting your content to suit the regional/cultural preferences of your target audience. For example, localisation might include:

  • Changing the imagery to include known locations, or to be more appealing to your target audience
  • Converting units of measurement, such as km to miles, weight, date formats and currency
  • Fine-tuning the copy to avoid cultural misunderstandings or inadvertently causing offence

Translation for eLearningLocalisation for eLearning
FocusLanguage conversion to ensure that translated courses accurately convey the original content and knowledge baseAdaptation of content to ensure that localised courses are culturally relevant and appropriate
ContentIdentical to the source materialCan vary depending on the target audience and its cultural context
Visual elementsRetains the original visual elementsVisual elements can be changed to align with local preferences
Tone and styleMaintains the tone and style of the source contentAdjusts tone, style, and humour to align with the target culture’s preferences
Cultural sensitivityLeaves room for cultural insensitivityEnsures cultural sensitivity by removing or changing content that could be controversial in the target community
Examples of useTechnical manuals, instructions, and general knowledge coursesCommunication strategies, workplace ethics, customer service
Key differences between Translation for eLearning and Localisation for eLearning

Which strategy should you adopt?

Translation is generally good for more technical content, such as employee processes, instructions for usage, or installation guides for technicians or engineers. Localisation, however, is better for more nuanced text, such as office etiquette, or customer service training. Register and formalities can vary wildly between cultures and it’s important that your content is both relevant, and appropriate.

Before you begin the project you should consider:

  • Who is your target audience? How culturally diverse are your learners? Might modifications be necessary?
  • What type of content are you communicating? Is the copy nuanced, stylistic or simply dry, technical and instructive?
  • What is your budget and timeline? Localisation is more complex, and requires a more skilled translator — therefore the process will take a little longer, and cost a little more.
  • Will your content need regular updates? If so, that will also have an impact on your budget.

Key Benefits of Localisation / Translation for eLearning Courses

Increase your reach: If you’re selling your courses, producing multilingual content will significantly expand your market.

Higher rates of customer and employee satisfaction: 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native language, even if they are highly proficient in English. Regardless of language proficiency, your learners will have a better learning experience in their native language. Tailoring your content — and not simply adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy — will encourage greater, and more enthusiastic, participation in the course.

Increase productivity: Effective training enables your new hires to hit the ground running. eLearning is also invaluable for remote staff who are often (effectively) on-boarding themselves.

Foster inclusivity: Multilingual content means all your learners have equal access to the training offered — 62% of international employees feel personally affected by skill gaps. As more and more of us work remotely, multilingual training encourages all new employees to feel they have joined a team (and not just a Trello board).  

Know the stats

  1. Last year, the eLearning market size reached $315 billion. It is predicted to see a 20% CAGR up to 2028.
  2. 68% of people want to have flexible learning opportunities in the workplace.
  3. 42% of companies that use eLearning generate more income.
  4. eLearning helps increase retention rates by 25-60%.
  5. Every $1 a company invests in eLearning generates up to $30 in productivity.
  6. More than 70% of organizations believe that eLearning helps them to be more competitive.

Talk to us about localisation and language services!

Using a Language Service Provider (LSP) to translate and/or localise your materials may appear to be more expensive, but ultimately you will make savings by utilising automated translation processes — CAT tools, together with a Translation Memory (TM), will calculate the percentage of repetitions in your copy, to ensure that you don’t pay to have the same text translated twice (think about, chapter or section headings, for example). A specialised LSP, such as Quicksilver Translate, will remove the risk of human error, and ensure that the money you spend on localisation and translation for eLearning courses is well invested.

Don’t forget your phone!

Mobile versions of eLearning courses are becoming increasingly popular as they offer users a convenient learning experience. In the US, 20% of the students said they have used their mobile devices to complete learning courses from start to finish. Including mobile-friendly translation for eLearning courses is crucial, as mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, may have limited memory and processing power. 

Part 2: How to Translate eLearning Content Efficiently

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