Translation for E-learning Part 2 It’s the Technology!

Lifted this cartoon from Lisa Reid's nice eLearning blog.

This is the second part of Kevin Watson’s piece on translation for E-learning. Pretty good job, hope you find it useful.  -Translation Guy

It takes a special kind of translation team to wrangle an e-training translation job. Last time, we talked about the linguistic care our word wranglers took to make sure all the translations came out all snuffy. Now we will look at the bottom of the stall at the technology behind our translations talent.

2.1      Technology

Another technique to make translation easier is to use a software or web-based template with a design common to every language. This helps users identify with an organization or brand.

The template should also be flexible. For example, different regions may require custom graphics. They may also have local formats for dates, currencies and addresses.

Even font type and size can give problems when translating text. A small font may become unreadable in another language. And the font may not cope with foreign characters. Using a Unicode font and auto resizing can help.

In the same vein, the server on which you store e-learning content must be suitable for multilingual sites. The server must recognize and accept the different characters for various languages.

As for web-based e-learning, the site should have a simple navigation system. Whatever their native language, users should be able to work their way through an e-learning site with ease.

You also need to update and maintain an e-learning program. The best way to manage this is with version control. A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) has version control, and lets you write, manage and publish training materials. Various LCMS systems are available. Choose one with regional options and appropriate support.

2.2      Internet

A further issue is the speed of Internet connections. These differ around the world.

When a web-based e-learning program has multimedia applications such as videos, audio and graphics, slow Internet speeds can’t cope. The result is poor response times. And when users are waiting for screens to change, their attention wanders. The design of an e-learning program should therefore match the average connection speed of the users.

To achieve this, you may have to choose simplicity. You should cut back on multimedia apps, avoid lots of individual files, and use plain text or XML in preference to complex file formats.

A straightforward approach also has other bonuses: It makes translation, updates and version control easier.

2.3      Voiceovers

Simplicity is an issue with voiceovers as well. If you’re dubbing a foreign language, you’ve got to keep on-camera speaking in mind. Dub for a lip-sync, or lay a translated track over the original, your multilingual production team can provide details on all the options available.

Subtitling and captions are about a third of the price per minute for audio, and are easy to do. Downside is that a lot of viewers find them distracting and hard to follow.

2.4      E-learning Language Management

Adding multiple languages to e-learning apps is complex, and so is managing language quality. Best practice starts with centralized management for quality and cost control. Glossaries, translation memories and style guides are used to keep everyone’s translation on track. Balance and validation can complicate the language process even further. Of course, the input of local managers and their support remains the key to understanding.

1-800-Translate language management programs always share four key objectives:

1. Improve translation quality, consistency and impact.

2. Assure translations conforms to style guide, glossary and pedagogical goals.

3. Lower costs through increased use of translation memory.

4. Improve language quality and consistency of all suppliers.

Before long, you’ll have cost-effective training. And all users, whatever their language, will benefit from it.

Questions? Get in touch with me. Thanks, Ken

16 Responses to “Translation for E-learning Part 2 It’s the Technology!”

  1. R. Kang says:

    Cost effective training. Isn’t that what it all boils down to? Less money, more people trained. The only thing is, the quality. So, if needed, translation must adhere to pedagogical goals.

  2. Kehaulani Cosme says:

    Once again, I whole heartedly agree. Keep things simple with the technology used so that updating will be easier.

  3. Juanita Hess says:

    I never thought about it before, but if I were to watch a theatrical version of a film I would prefer to watch with the original actors voice, even if I did not understand. However, if I were using a film for e-learning, the voice wouldn’t be as important and a dubbed version would be my choice.

    • Ken says:

      The talent that dubbed John Wayne’s voice in Japanese was amazing. Even if you had never heard a word of Japanese spoken before, and were just listeing to an audio, you would instantly recognize this guy’s voice as that of John Wayne somehow speaking Japanese.

  4. Ron Pepka says:

    Subtitles are cheaper, but not as good as a voice over. While living France I watched a lot of foreign films with subs in English. It was more like reading a book and not watching a movie. I can see how someone could miss a lot in a video if they are constantly reading text.

  5. Kalina Simenov says:

    Most in house internet speeds are adequate, but home speed may not. Therefore if users are at home, programs should be simpler and lack heavy graphics. Nothing more frustrating than slow download – especially in my country.

  6. Juan Stein says:

    I realize there is big money to be made in e-Learning and it also saves money, but I still prefer to go to a class. I can’t concentrate when a teacher isn’t in front of me or when I have the freedom to stop the lesson and get up and do something else if I want. I think there is something more tangible to be attained with learning with other people, rather than in front of a computer.

    • Ken says:

      Well, you got one up on me, Juan, because I also have trouble concentrating when I see a teacher in front of me too. Soon as I see a teacher at the front of the class, I start salivating like Pavlov’s dog, in anticipation of an upcoming spitball assault. This is the one lesson learned at Unami Junior High that I’ve been able to hang on to, although the cheap Bic pens I prefer as launching tubes sometimes detract from my CEO aura . Truly, honor comes at a price.

  7. Ben Caan says:

    As more and more of this is happening, qualitly is getting better and that is great. As always, Mr. Translation Guy has a great plan already worked out!

  8. Gloria Lee says:

    Yes, but increasing the number of users, it can become more cost effective. Money spent seems to be just as important as the info learned.

  9. Jonas Delavie says:

    Just over the past two years my firm has engaged in more e-learning. We have been able to cut our employee-based training by nearly a third (less travel) and we have more people benefiting from it.

  10. Melvin Patel says:

    I’m not a fan of voiceovers, but they are better than subtitles. I just find myself watching to see if lips match words.

  11. Juan Finley says:

    You’re right, the template has to be flexible. I have used a few before that weren’t and, of course, weren’t very effective.