5 tips to reduce e-Learning translation costs

More and more companies are turning towards e-learning for their employees as it is quicker to deploy and more cost effective compared to classroom based training. As businesses are becoming more global in nature, companies need to provide training for their employees located in different parts of the world.

1. Create “translation-friendly” content

Consider translation when creating your source material – thinking ahead will save you time and money. Keeping sentences short and eliminating any slang will certainly help.

Internationalise the content where possible and make it appropriate for multiple audiences.

Review the content and ensure it is culturally neutral in terms of symbols, colours and images. This process not only reduces development time but also the costs involved in the translation process.

2. Think about images

A picture can tell 1,000 words, so where possible – use images. Narration costs can be reduced if there is more focus on graphics and images. As with content, when using any images think about what would be culturally-neutral.

For example, using the British pound symbol to signify money will not relate to everyone, whereas the image of a piggy bank, or coins is more relevant to a wider audience.

Try not to use screenshots if possible, and try not to embed any text within the images. Text embedded in an image can’t be extracted and therefore needs to be re-created for each language. If you need text, try to include it within a text box or a container.

Also consider using symmetrical or mirrored images for languages that are read right-to-left, such as Arabic. If you want to keep narration but are unsure on images, voice-over could also be a solution, as you don’t have to worry about either text or images.

3. Watch out for expanding text

Translated text is typically longer than the English source and can be problematic if the text container is not flexible. When creating e-Learning content in English, it’s a good idea to ensure you’ve got plenty of white space to allow for text expansion.

Don’t forget to double check your horizontal navigation bars, menus and any other text containers with limited space.

4. Minimise complex content

If possible, avoid complicated synchronisation and animation between your audio and the images.

Avoid lengthy titles and subtitles by using concise, direct language.

Keep audio and on screen text clear and rhythmic so that this can be mirrored in other languages.

5. Choose your languages carefully

This sounds quite simple, but considering your target market and identifying appropriate languages for translation before you start the process can help minimise costs.

It can be tempting to translate into the traditional ‘FIGS‘ languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish), but if Spanish-speaking countries are a large part of your audience, your money is better spent localising into Spanish dialects – such as Mexican and South American Spanish.

These are just a few tips you can follow when creating multilingual e-learning materials. If your modules have already been created and you require localisation services, fill in the below form to find out how we can help.


Business Development Manager Sally specialises in translations for technical, software and e-Learning content. With 4 languages and a Masters in Machine Translation under her belt, when she's not working, she plays the piano and sings with her local choir.

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