Learning and Localization Blog

Prevent Common eLearning Mistakes for Better Translation

Published on Nov 14, 2014
eLearning course translation is often as important as the overall course creation. Your course is not useful to your international employees if they cannot understand the information. The key to effective eLearning translation is planning ahead during the course creation process.

Companies who don’t plan ahead for eLearning translation often make mistakes that can greatly increase the time and cost it takes to fully localize the course.
If you’re aiming for a stress-free eLearning course translation, utilize these preventative tips:

Mistake: Non Consistent Base LanguagePrevent Common eLearning Mistakes for Better Translation

Your base language needs to be consistent throughout your entire eLearning course. Sometimes, during the development process, words are interchanged and synonyms are used.

If words like “sales manager” and “account manager” are exchanged throughout the course, it may become unclear in the translation. The final product could be differentiating these phrases, making it confusing for the end user to understand exactly what is happening.

Prevention: Glossary
In order to prevent this from happening, come up with a glossary of terms before creating your eLearning course. Determine job titles, common industry terms, or any other phrases you know are going to be used frequently throughout your course.


By creating an official document that highlights exactly what words should be used throughout, you’re creating processes that can be used during any eLearning course creation. Consistency in phrasing throughout the course will make for cleaner translations for your users.




Mistake: Multitude of Voice Talents

Many characters and voice talents can make for a fun, creative course, but can also complicate the translation process. For your translations, you need to hire the same number of voice talents that you hired for your English version.

Many voice talents charge a minimum fee, even for a small speaking role. If the English language version of your course has 6 characters, and you need to translate it into 3 additional languages - you already need to hire 24 different voice talents. A multitude of voice talents can turn your course translation into a costly ordeal.

Prevention: Limited Characters
Limit the number of characters in your eLearning course to limit the number of necessary voice talents. A recommended number is three voice talents.


Three people gives you space for a narrator, and two characters. Two characters and a narrator can accomplish nearly any conversation that you need to include in your eLearning course. By using fewer voice talent, you can save money and decrease the amount of time it takes to translate your eLearning course.




Mistake: Poor File Management

Many times, a company hands over an English language course without any of the media assets used to create the course. Text added on top of an image can be useful to provide context, but it will also need to be translated with the rest of the course content.

Without the source files for an eLearning course, any image that needs adjusting will need to be re-created. The same process applies for video content because each time you need to re-render the video, the quality deteriorates. By not working from the source video content, the final subtitled or dubbed video in-language can result in a final product that is not as high resolution as the original.

Prevention: Source File Management
From the beginning of your course creation, have a standardized process for filing away your source files. Keep track of the base image for every graphic, and have them stored in an organized manner. Save your original video content as well, to make dubbing or subtitling an easier process.


Labeling your files properly is important to being able to find them in a timely manner. By creating different folders for each part of your eLearning course and labeling your files with a description of the image or video, you can prevent having to recreate each graphic.




Mistake: Too Little Time 

All too often, a company will work for months on their eLearning course, then expect the translation process to happen overnight. Many companies have time constraints and deadlines that they have to meet, and need their eLearning translation to happen on an unrealistic timeline.

Hiring a company that promises fast turnaround over quality work generally only leads to eLearning mistakes and a non-comprehensive course. A badly translated course can be detrimental to the education of your international employees, and can hurt the reputation of your company.

Prevention: Budgeting Time
The best prevention for this mistake is to budget your time properly. If you know when your course needs to be deployed, maintain a schedule of deadlines to be met. It’s important to have a small amount of flexibility in your schedule to account for unforeseen circumstances.


Many times it’s possible for your course translation to be expedited, but lack of planning or an unreliable translation company could lead to disastrous results. Contact your localization company ahead of time to determine their timeline, and create your schedule with those dates in mind.
Documented Processes

Nearly every common mistake listed above can be combated with documented processes. Everything from your course creation schedule to your source file directory should have a written standard.

Be sure to provide a copy of each of these standards to everyone involved in the creation of your eLearning course. Creation of these standardized processes may seem like a time consuming task, but they can provide immense cost and time savings when translating your eLearning course.

Planning ahead for translation can help you better understand the process. If you have any questions about eLearning localization or preparing for the eLearning translation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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