4 Mistakes to Avoid When Localizing E-Learning Content
E-learning content has unique challenges that must be addressed to avoid costly localization mistakes. We have listed the four most common mistakes we see to help you avoid these same pitfalls.
Embedding Text in Graphics
What’s good for graphics in domestic presentations isn’t so great for e-learning courses. When you embed text in graphics, it can’t be extracted and put easily into the new language. That requires a new layer with the text — and even a retouched image, all of which creates added work and higher cost. The most nimble solution if you know your graphics are likely to be localized: create them in file formats that can be edited, such as TIFF.
Also important for text in graphics: avoiding fonts that don’t do well in translation. It won’t affect your audio, obviously, but will create problems for any visual elements. Aim to use system fonts that support character libraries for all target languages, such as Arial Unicode MS. If it’s important to use a custom font, make sure it’s available for all platforms (both Macs and PCs).
Shortchanging the space needed for increased length of text
More often than not, the length of the text — literally, the time it takes to say something — from the first language, to the localized one, means a significant change in space requirements. This is arguably the most common mistake committed in the localization of e-learning courses. English to German, for example, typically increases the text by 20 percent. Make sure you’ve allowed for the added space and time in your change from one market to another.
Using language specific to the original video’s region or culture
If you know from the get-go that you’re creating e-learning video courses that will also be intended for international audiences, make sure your terminology will translate effectively. The fastest way to lose your audience’s attention and focus is including a lot of words or phrases that they won't understand. While certain industry jargon, catch-phrases, and even clichés and metaphors may be completely familiar to some audiences, others will be left in the dark. They won’t get the full benefit from your e-learning course—and just as bad, they’ll feel like a second-class audience: an afterthought. Using case studies that don’t “translate” is also a common inadvertent mistake. Consult with a local expert to see which terms or words are appropriate, and which you may want to omit altogether.
Cutting costs in the wrong places
You'll find some aspects of your design costs can be cut from your budget to make room for other development requirements. But when you start cutting costs in the wrong places—say, removing subject matter experts and localization specialists from your budget—that’s when mistakes get made, requiring time-consuming corrections. The same goes for local subject matter experts: They will know exactly what’s critical to include, and what can be left out. Their fees are well worth the quality and credibility—and the peace of mind.
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