Learning and Localization Blog

6 Risks to Consider Before Translating Your eLearning In-House

Published on Dec 31, 2014
Translating your eLearning content can pose some major challenges, especially for companies who are not used to handling the content localization process.

If you are thinking about handling your eLearning translation in-house, you must weigh the risks against the potential savings that you may or may not gain from in-house translations.
1. Lack of a Professional Translator

risks-to-translating-elearning-in-houseMany companies believe that because they have a native speaker in their office, they will be able to handle this translation the same way a professional would. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Professional language translators are aware of dialect trends and official translations that even native speakers might not be familiar with. Using a native speaker that does not have professional translation experience can result in inconsistencies throughout your translated content.

This becomes quite obvious when you think about how many native English speakers can't write well or even grammatically in their own native language--including many of those with higher education.  This problem is multiplied when going from one language to another.  The only way to minimize this risk is to use a professional linguist.
2. Translator Experience

Whether you are using someone in-house or a professional translator, it is important to consider their level of experience with training content. A translator who is not experienced with training content can make mistakes regarding the flow and tone of the piece.

eLearning content needs to be translated differently than materials like manuals and software documents. There needs to be a certain flow in order to engage readers.  If a translator is more used to technical work, they may have issues capturing the type of tone that is necessary for an eLearning course to be effective.
3. Word and Phrase Consistency Issues

Professional localization providers are equipped with computer-assisted translation tools that help translators achieve consistency by making sure that certain key terms are included and translated the same way every time. For example, if there are a few key words or sentences that are repeated in your eLearning, translation software can help ensure that they are translated the same way all throughout the eLearning content.  If you use someone in house to translate your content, you will usually not benefit from the consistency that computer assisted translation tools provide.
4. Content Orientation

Some languages that are read in different ways may need to be completely flipped around before they can be translated effectively. Those who read languages that are written from left to right usually look at the top left corner of a page and work towards the right. For languages that are right to left, such as Hebrew and Arabic, readers approach a document the opposite way. Changing the orientation of your eLearning content in this way is complex and is often done incorrectly if it is handled in-house.  It also often necessitates costly software that can negate any cost savings you gain from doing the work in house.
5. Cost of Translation

It is common to hear stories of companies that handled an eLearning translation project in-house because they thought they were saving money, only to find out the actual cost was much higher.  When you take someone off of their normal job function to do translation work, not only does their normal job function suffer, but you are then paying them for translation whatever you normally pay them for their normal job, which is most cases is much higher than what the translation company is charging.  In almost all cases, the translation company is faster, so even if the person's hourly wage isn't very high, they are still taking many more hours to complete the work, which raises the total cost.
6. Quality Assurance

If you have a bilingual employee translate your content, how will you know that they didn't do a horrible job? Unless you have multiple bilingual employees that can proofread and review the content, you won't know how good it is. You wouldn't use the original author to review your English version, so why would you do it for your foreign languages versions?

Many translation companies will have 2-4 sets of bilingual experts work on your project, from the initial linguist to additional quality assurance proofreaders.  Language is completely subjective, and it often takes a second or third verification to be sure you are accurately communicating the original meaning of the English version.
Getting Started

eLearning translation and localization can be a daunting task to take on. Mistakes during this process can hinder your end user's understand of the material, or even make your course unusable.

If you need help during the translation process, we would love to talk with your about your eLearning needs.

Contact us with any questions you may have about eLearning translation.

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