Tribridge Connections

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Developing Your eLearning Content for Multiple Languages

Published: March 22, 2016
Jason Miller is the manager of the Content Services team. Read More

We are living in a rapidly growing, global business climate — one that demands powerful talent strategies.

To compete, companies operating in the global marketplace should assess their current learning environment to determine how they are going to accommodate the various learning styles of their global workforce.

In addition to the "anytime, anywhere" availability of learning, what's important is that content is localized for each audience. Don't think that this is as simple as "develop it in English and then translate." If you want learning to be effective for each geographic location in which you operate, you must plan for a multi-language, multi-cultural initiative during development.

Step 1: Know Languages in Advance

A content development best practice dictates that you start by assessing the number of languages in which you'll deliver your learning. There are several considerations here. Take into account special character letters, such as the German umlaut or the Cyrillic alphabet. And don't forget about languages written right to left such as Arabic or vertically, such as Chinese.

Tribridge client PANDORA, the Danish company that designs and manufactures highly popular jewelry, provides sales and product training for their new jewelry collections in 19 languages to approximately 15,000 retail staff learners. To accommodate each language, PANDORA asked Tribridge to develop a solution that would give learners open access to all training in multiple languages, based on their user profile.

Step 2: Prepare Course Design and Style Guide

To be safe, plan for every text box to accommodate about three times more space to hold all the translated text. A sentence written in German is typically longer than the same sentence written in English:

The Same Text in English and German:

To comply with national regulations, employers should introduce safety policies and provide safety training as a part of job orientation. In addition, regularly scheduled follow-up safety training supports employers' efforts to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.

Um nationale Vorschriften zu erfüllen, sollten Arbeitgeber Sicherheitsrichtlinien einf ühren und Sicherheitstraining als Teil der Berufsorientierung anbieten. Darüber hinaus unterstützt regelmäßiges Sicherheitstraining die Bemühungen der Arbeitgeberverbände Unfälle und Verletzungen am Arbeitsplatz zu verhindern.

It may also be necessary to compromise on visual aesthetics, such as the use of white space, alignment and spacing because fitting the translated text in the available area is of the utmost importance.

Finally, avoid embedding text within images as it makes updating with different translations more difficult. If you place all the text inside of your development tool, it is easier to perform the translation.

Here's an insider tip: While using all on-screen text keeps your costs down, incorporating audio narration provides for a better learning experience. And isn't that what it's all about in the end?

Step 3: Translate More than the Course Content

It's easy to forget when scoping a multi-language learning project that on-screen navigation elements also have to be translated.

Consider using iconic interface elements whenever possible, as they don't need to be translated in most cases. And don't forget to translate elements such as ALT tags, warning dialogs and feedback boxes.

Step 4: Plan for Language Variations

There are multiple flavors of English: American, British, Canadian and Australian. There are also various versions of Spanish including Castilian/Spanish and Mexican Spanish. Make sure you know the dialect that is being used locally, and have identified translators who are fluent in the correct dialect.

Step 5: Make your Content Multi-Cultural

To make your learning content easier to understand in any language, avoid idioms, slang expressions, abbreviations and acronyms. Every industry has its buzzwords and phrases. In the U.S. healthcare field, "outcomes" is commonly used. But, what does it mean in Italian?

Also, be sensitive to images that may be potentially offensive to other cultures. This includes being sensitive to the context when developing scenarios.

Finally, no matter the language, it's always important to keep it simple. Use short sentences with single thoughts.

Content Solutions from Tribridge

Developing learning content for an international audience is no easy task. With so many considerations, relying on the expertise of a solution provider such as Tribridge makes sense. To learn more about Tribridge content solutions, read our lightpaper: Learning Is Powered by Content.

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