Thursday, 22 May 2014
E-learning has expanded in popularity worldwide, primarily as the result of a growing demand for classroom instruction materials and computer-based training modules. As this demand for E-learning materials has increased, so has the interest in translating these materials into various languages other than English.
When translating E-learning materials into another language, it is important that the coursework be appropriately translated and perhaps even localised. (For more information on localisation, click here.)
There are certain key aspects to keep in mind when translating E-learning courseware content. Before plunging into courseware development and translation, here are six factors to consider:
It is important to design E-learning platforms to accommodate future translation into other languages. Translated text often varies in size from the original, and space constraints will complicate the translation process.
Because a translated text is almost always longer than its English equivalent, inflexible text containers can create big logistical hurdles. Common problem areas include menus, horizontal navigation bars, and any other text areas that lack room for expansion. To ensure that long texts can be supported, be sure to check your code and design
One way to avoid headaches and expense in the long run is to think about the possibility of future translation when you are creating and writing your initial materials. It is both cost-effective and less time consuming to stick with content that is simple and concise; not only are such texts more clear, but they can also be translated much more easily.
A few quick ways to create translation-friendly content:
• Instead of lengthy paragraphs, use bulleted lists.
• Break up overly-long noun phrases.
• Avoid using idiomatic expressions and slang.
Because everything in life seems to take longer than expected, it’s always a good idea to build in more time whenever possible. This is especially true in the world of translation, but also applies to E-learning in general.
We recently translated a university course into eight languages, and the translations had to be completed prior to the school’s semester break. In that case, we were able to deliver both on time and on budget. By working over the weekends and late into nights, we just met the deadline. Ideally it is wonderful to have some extra time for additional reviews, which are not always possible in rush jobs.
One common issue with graphics and translation is having the text locked into an image, which can cause problems when the time comes to export the text to be translated. To avoid this, be sure to use text-specific tools whenever possible.
It is a good idea to always apply best practices for images; use culturally-neutral images, keep the number of screenshots to a minimum, and take special care when using weights and measures, currency symbols, and other metaphorical images. Most importantly, keep in mind when using pictures that certain gestures convey different meanings in different cultures (for example, thumbs up is highly offensive in some cultures).
Acronyms can be very tricky in translation, and for this reason, constructions that combine text fragments with other variables should be avoided. One variable is word order. Many languages follow a different linguistic order than English; instead of subject + verb + adjective, other languages might use subject + adjective + verb.
When dealing with acronyms, it may be necessary to create a table explaining or defining the acronyms used. With industry-specific acronyms, all terms should be thoroughly reviewed before any audio recording or translation is completed. Locating any previously translated related documents can prove extremely helpful in these cases.
As a side note, when translating into English, it is a good idea to use a style guide. Some clients take issues such as the use of serial commas or periods at the end of bullet points very seriously. These preferences should be made clear to the translation provider at the outset, however, or your text may come back without the desired results.
Without proper planning early on, translating different E-learning courses can be expensive and tricky, but by taking the necessary steps to strategise and execute a well-thought-out plan, you can make the process much smoother.
Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz
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