6 Ways to Make International eLearning Programs More Cost-Effective
May 28, 2024

6 Ways to Make International eLearning Programs More Cost-Effective

If you handle the training of your international staff, you very well know that translation and localization are integral to the training process. Not all staff may understand the lingua franca of headquarters, but it’s important for them to be on par with headquarter staff – hence, translation and localization.

However, as the number of languages, you are offering increases, the cost involved in translating and localizing also increases. Many a time, the budget doesn’t increase correspondingly. You then have to figure out ways and means to stay within the budget, yet train your overseas employees successfully.

How do you do this? 6 easy steps:

Six Ways to Make International E-learning Programs More Cost-Effective

1. Draft content in plain language to keep it concise and clear.

There are many benefits of writing content succinctly. Apart from the obvious benefit of making the content easy to understand and thereby increasing engagement, it also takes fewer words. This can help in translation, as most languages take a little more space than English does. German, for example, takes up to 30% more space than English.

If you max out the screen space in English, how then will you fit the content on the same screen when translating it to German?

Not to forget that fewer words means lesser translation cost!

2. Keep text editable in graphics.

6 Ways to Make International eLearning Programs More Cost-Effective

This is an often-repeated best practice, but it bears the repetition. If we only made a penny for all those times when our translators groaned when faced with text in an image!

Editing text embedded in an image means that one must ideally have access to the image file. Then, the image must be edited in image editing software, where the graphic designer must then key in the text in the target language. This would have to be done for each language you’re translating into. And this is just for one image.

Compare this to text, which is just placed on the image as a separate layer. It’s presented to the translator as just another piece of text, and the translation can be inserted back effortlessly.

3. Choose a localization-friendly authoring tool.

This may not be an easy decision to make, as the choice of an authoring tool may depend on several factors such as the ease of content creation, budget, and so on. However, it’s a critical decision when it comes to localization.

There are responsive design tools as well as the older, slide-based ones. The former are easily editable, mobile-first, and localization-friendly. However, do check if the tool you have in mind offers support for your target languages.

You can choose the slide-based authoring tools if you know for sure your students are going to be using a larger screen, like a large tablet or laptop. These tools offer support in many more languages than the responsive design ones.

4. Use audio and video wisely.

Use audio and video wisely.

It’s true that using an audio narration might add a more human touch to an otherwise sterile online learning environment. However, when using audio, consider if it’s really necessary. Any narration will have to be dubbed into your target languages. The audio runtime for different languages will be different, which means there will be trouble syncing the screen to the audio.

The same goes for video. It’s a powerful tool and may come handy when you actually need to show something to the learner. But use it sparingly, if you want to localize the program affordably.

If you have to use video, keep it short.

A better alternative to using audio or video is to add interactive elements to the course. This can help in increasing engagement versus the learner just passively listening to audio or watching a video.

And, wherever you do use audio or video, provide captions. This is an accessibility feature, helping the deaf to learn effectively. But it also saves a huge step when it comes to translation. If the captions are already present, you can directly extract them and translate them.

Also, captions aid the learner to learn in noisy, outdoor environments or when they are on the move.

5. Plan for… what you cannot plan.

Yes, you read it right: you need to plan for situations that you can’t foresee right now. For instance, your staff from one country might not prefer the type of assessments that have been incorporated into the course. You then have to re-think your assessments.

Or, your course might need updating some time in the future.

So, the ability to easily edit, change, or update the course is critical in saving time and money. A few ways you can do this is by creating the content in chunks, rather than one big narrative. That way, you only need to edit individual chunks rather than the whole course.

Use tools that record revision history. This way, when you make a change in the source language content, the language services provider (LSP) can easily find those changes and implement them in all the target languages. Revision history also brings about accountability, of course.

But more important than any of the above is to have all your stakeholders on board at the drafting stage. Inform them about the course you are about to create, what its objectives are, and invite their feedback. Design a detailed questionnaire to capture their feedback, rather than just have open-ended questions.

This way, unnecessary and frequent changing of the course content can be avoided.

6. Use translation tools.

Certain tools like translation memory hugely contribute in reducing translation cost. A translation memory is a database of previous translations. The tool checks new content for sentences or phrases that might have been translated before. If it finds them, it will bring up the translated phrase. This way, you don’t have to translate them again. You will be using the old, approved translation, so you will not be creating any new mistakes.

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