In one of my previous posts, I discussed translating eLearning modules into other languages. Since then, I have completed a project that needed to be translated into Spanish. As I was working on my translation, I came across some localization issues, which I would like to share with other eLearning professionals responsible for translating their courses into other languages.
- Graphics and images – When you translate your course, keep in mind that in addition to linguistic differences, there are also social and cultural differences. When we deal with cultural differences, we should pay close attention to graphic and images, as they instill different feelings and reactions in people from other cultural backgrounds. Therefore, changing existing images to more neutral or culturally appropriate ones may be another responsibility of someone translating the course.
- Audio-visual Elements – If the course that you are trying to localize includes video, you may think that dubbing would do it, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case. Just like graphics and images, nonverbal communication varies from culture to culture. This means that some of the gestures used in original videos may be unsuitable and even insulting to other cultures.
- Screen Design – Oftentimes, original eLearning content is not designed to accommodate the translation into different languages. As a result, the translated content may expand. Expanded content may potentially be problematic if the original screen/slide does not have enough room for expansion. Therefore, if the source content is text heavy, the translated material may have to be broken into two screens.
- LMS – If you will be uploading your translated course on the LMS, be sure that it can handle the technical localization aspects.
Some of these aspects include date and time formats, non-Unicode fonts, and double byte characters such as those in Asian languages.
If you know in advance that your eLearning module will be later translated into other languages, you should try to make your original course as culturally neutral as possible and leave enough extra space to accommodate the needs of the translated text.