Accounting for Text Expansion in eLearning Translation

Translating eLearning can be a challenging endeavor. When it comes to translations for eLearning, courses must be as accurate as possible so that the recipients can learn what they need.

One of the major challenges of eLearning translation is the issue of text expansion, where the amount of text is larger after translation.

Text Size Changes After Translation

When you are translating eLearning text into a new language, you will typically end up with a larger amount of text than was in the original English content.

The amount of change depends on the languages being translated: for example, translating English into German sometimes results in localized materials that have 50% more text than was present in the original language. Spanish and French can result in text growth of around 30%. It should be noted that in some cases the amount of text can shrink.

To deal with text size changes when localizing eLearning courses into a different language, there are a few important things that you should keep in mind. There are several options depending on whether you are looking to prevent these issues from happening in the future or correct them once they occur.

Preventing the Problem During Localization

It is always more efficient and less costly for you to prevent these problems before they crop up. During eLearning course creation, remember to plan your course with some extra space in text boxes/text areas so that there is room for text growth.

Don’t try to cram as much information as you can on each page or slide: this will lead to a hard to rectify situation if text expansion occurs. If you need more space for text, create a new slide or page instead of trying to add it on to the existing one.

Also, remember the fonts that you choose during eLearning course creation and localization. It is best not to start with the smallest allowable text size in your English course, otherwise, there won’t be a possibility to transition to smaller font size to account for text expansion.  For example: if size 10 is the smallest you will allow in your courses, it would be best to create the English in size 12. And note that in some cases, small fonts can be very hard to read after translation.

This can be especially problematic with Asian languages, which tend to have many different shapes and lines that can be hard to distinguish at smaller font sizes.

Additionally, ensure that your GUI (general user interface) text can easily be translated. What might be a four-letter word in English could easily be a 10 letter word in another language.

When Text Growth is Already a Problem

If you are currently dealing with text growth problems during eLearning translation, there are a few things you can do to rectify the problem.

First, see if you can add a new slide or page to the translation to account for the text growth. This is the easiest way to solve the text growth issue. If not, you can ask a linguist if it’s possible to shorten the text of the translation.  There might be certain words that can be changed without altering the meaning of the text.

Keep in mind that it can be especially challenging to alter the text that is found on top of graphics, especially if it is already in a tight space on the image. You may need to entirely replace the image or work to condense the information contained in the image.

Getting Started

It’s always easier to prevent text expansion issues than it is to correct them during translation. Going back and forth with the linguist to condense text, recreating graphics, and re-organizing slides can significantly increase the time and cost of translating your course. Preparing for the text expansion during eLearning course development is the best way to prevent having to cut text or make course alterations in the future.

No matter what type of eLearning translation challenges you are facing, it is important that you overcome them to create a strong course that your learners understand. For any eLearning translation needs, the expert team at Ingenuiti is ready to help.

Please contact us with any questions you may have about eLearning translation or localization!

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