Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing an eLearning Translation Company

Not every competent or talented language translator is an effective eLearning translator. When you are looking for someone to translate your eLearning course into other languages, look specifically for companies who focus on eLearning translations and make sure they can handle the process for you from start to finish.

The 5 Pitfallls to Avoid

Every extra vendor you or they have to bring into the eLearning process costs you money, time, and headaches. Avoid these five pitfalls to ensure a cost-effective and high-quality translation for your company:

1. Avoid Companies Who Don’t Specialize in eLearning

Many companies have an excellent reputation for their document translation services. However, eLearning is so much more than document translation.

eLearning courses require translators who can capture metaphors, context, and the nuances of a language as well as the literal word-for-word translations. eLearning course translation requires a translator who can tell a story, not just translate words.

2. Avoid Companies Who Can’t Integrate Localized Text, Graphics, Video and Audio into the Final Project

The most critical aspects of any eLearning course are the videos, graphics, and audio that accompany the text. If your translator can’t integrate the localized versions of these elements back into the course and provide you with a fully translated version ready for your Learning Management System, you’ll need to hire someone else to do it all at an additional cost.  Ask them questions about the authoring tool you are using to see if they have that tool and are accustomed to using it to provide turnkey eLearning localization.

3. Avoid Companies Without Proven and Experienced Project Management Teams

eLearning courses are probably one of the most complex translation projects to manage. Not only are there audio recordings, syncing, subtitling, video voice-over dubbing, and all of the moving parts that go into putting a course together, there may be 20 to 30 or more languages required in one project.  That means that rather than managing one project with a limited number of stakeholders, they are required to manage 20-30 projects in one, with potentially hundreds of stakeholders across the globe. New, inexperienced, or overworked project managers can cause your project to derail quickly.

4. Beware the Lack of Good Multilingual Audio Narration

Translation companies rarely have good audio talent, or they don’t do audio narration at all, preferring to outsource such jobs at an added cost to you. In-house narration by companies who don’t specialize in it often results in poor audio, bad accents, or poor translation for your project.  Ask for multiple samples from their voice talent pools, so you can approve the quality and pick the voice talent that your team likes best.

5. Beware Bad Translations and Lack of Quality Linguists

There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages and dialects in the world today. Africa alone has an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 languages, each with different vocabularies, accents, and local dialects.

Effective eLearning course translation requires experienced linguists who can localize the language and translate it into coursework end users can understand. Vocabulary, phrasing, culture, accents, and inflections are a vital part of any eLearning translation. Using linguistic elements from a specific location makes it more relevant and effective for the end-user.

How Can You Tell if a Company is Going to Be the Right Fit?

It’s hard, but not impossible to find a good vendor for your project, especially if you do your due diligence before hiring:

  1. Look at similar projects they’ve worked on. What do you like or dislike about them?
  2. Ask for references. Don’t just get the references, contact them. Speak to someone who was involved hands-on with the project from start to finish.
  3. Read and explore their website. Is eLearning the core focus of their business or is it a small percentage of their overall service focus? Do they talk about eLearning in their blog or are they focused more on translation services?
  4. Check their credentials.  Who do they partner with? What vendors do they use?  What eLearning development companies use them for localization?
  5. Start with a smaller test project. A small translation project can show you a lot about how proficient a company is. If they’re skilled and professional with small projects they’ll likely perform the same with larger ones.