To articulate a multilingual eLearning course successfully, it is necessary to think about how every aspect of the course will translate and be understood by your target audience. The following tips will enable a smooth transition when translating eLearning courses into various languages.
Language is obviously the most important factor in multilingual courses, and a simple translation is not as easy as it first appears; for instance, the same languages may have significant differences in expressions, pronunciation, and even basic vocabulary differences depending of the country.
To overcome this problem, the eLearning developer should choose either a dialect understood by the majority of the target audience or use a neutral version of the language as is the recommended case for most Spanish translations since there are so many different Spanish speaking countries. In some cases, it may be necessary to release content in two versions of the same language, such as Portuguese for Portugal and Portuguese for Brazil even though the differences may be very subtle.
There are huge differences in symbolism and taboos over different cultures — even a simple thing like the connotations surrounding a certain color may change from country to country. To avoid misunderstandings, the eLearning developer should avoid examples and pictures that obviously relate to a particular country and keep symbolism to a minimum.
Another cultural consideration is learning style. There are two opposing instructional approaches: deductive and inductive. In deductive learning, the instructor introduces and explains the concepts, and students then complete tasks to practice. Inductive learning, on the other hand, is a student-centered approach that uses the technique of “noticing,” where learners receive examples showing them how a concept is used. Depending on their culture, learners will be more comfortable with one or the other.
Some languages use more words than others to express the same idea, a factor that is important to bear in mind when planning the layout for text. A Spanish translation of eLearning content, for example, is likely to have around 20% more words than the original English.
Above all, it is important to test the final eLearning course in Spanish and other languages to a sample group before releasing it to the target audience. The feedback gained from a number of learners in different countries is essential for gauging the course’s potential for success.