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Translating eLearning for Global Audiences

It is quite common for large, global organizations to have elearning modules that must be delivered company-wide. This is because for many companies, their success relies upon clients receiving the same quality of service regardless of where they are located in the world. When delivering elearning that is unique to a company it needs to have a consistent message that is understood by employees and nothing is “lost in translation”. Reaching learning and business objectives should not be impeded by misinterpretations. Here are a few key points to remember when developing elearning for a global audience:

  1. Use professional translators - this is a key area not to try and cut costs. The last thing you want is your learners to be confused and literally get “lost in translation”. Professional translators will do more than online translating tools or a “friend” that can speak the language. There are things such as grammar and sentence structure that will be spotted immediately by a local that speaks the language fluently.

  2. Keep it relevant – if you plan on including real-life scenarios, make sure they make sense from a “locals” perspective. Take into account local customs and etiquette, as well as cultural sensitivity. Certain signs or symbols may that may have no meaning at all in one part of the world could have a totally different effect in another.

  3. One language first – choose one language to create your module with first and focus on perfecting that with your subject matter experts. If something goes wrong with one module, it will be a lot easier to fix than having to fix in 10 modules.

  4. Design with room for different languages – take into to account the fact that a sentence written in English will use a different amount of space on the screen than Chinese. Basically, all languages will fit into the screen differently and designers should we wary of this when choosing text size, colour schemes and fonts.

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