Localising e-learning tools

Localising e-learning toolsOne of the most popular project types our Commercial Team dealt with in the last few months was various e-learning applications, most specifically staff training tools for our pharmaceutical clients for use on computers, tablets or smart phones.

Although the end goal for each and every one of these kinds of projects is a workable e-learning tool that is fully localised for other countries, as the applications themselves are so varied, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

We asked two of our Project Managers, Ana and Svetlana to explain what goes into an e-learning tool translation project from start to finish and what First Edition might be able to help with.

“At the beginning of any project, especially in the case of such complicated and intricate ones as e-learning translations,” says Ana, “we always recommend a meeting to discuss our client’s specific requirements and advise them on how to start the localisation task. We are happy to arrange a personal, face-to-face meeting, or if that is not possible for some reason, we are always ready to talk to them and answer any questions they may have on the phone or via Skype. We are there for our clients, even after the project has taken off and can provide them with regular updates or address any queries. We are there to give our clients a personalised service, so that they can find not only a supplier in First Edition but a good partner they can rely on in the future, too.”

“Personalised and adaptable are the two main keywords,” Svetlana takes over. “Our clients work with different file formats and have different requirements, so we need to be flexible in how we set up the project at the beginning. When deciding on the best way of handling a specific project, we build on our previous experience with similar projects, and we also adapt to our client’s requests as much as it is feasible and as much as the target language allows for it.

There are certain things that wouldn’t work in languages other than English, but we can advise our clients on the best alternative approach. For example, once we received an English word list as an Excel file that was to be used to make up sentences. This might be easily done in English, however, due to grammatical differences, inflection or a different word order, this most often doesn’t work out in other languages. One workaround this issue could be the use of placeholders and skeleton sentences, although one still has to be very mindful of the languages that will be used and keep the grammar of the target languages in mind! Another common issue is the localisation of English slogans they might appear as examples in the training material. Do we translate them? Do we find equivalent versions in the target languages? Or do we just leave them in English? There is no one right answer, and we usually decide on a solution that is fit for the given project by discussing the matter with our client and our translators.”

Ana joins in to emphasise how important it is to keep the dialogue open between our clients and our translators during the project: “We often get queries from our linguists that relate to the use of the app itself as the initial briefing might not answer all their questions. In fact, we do encourage these questions, so that we can make sure that in the end the tool indeed works well. We also recommend that whenever it is possible, we the Project Managers and our translators involved in the project also receive some training from the client on how to use the tool, so that we can perfectly understand how it works.”

“We do need technically-minded translators for such a project, so that they know how coding, formatting, etc. may work in the app,” adds Svetlana. “For the localisation of e-learning tools it is not enough to have a translator who is specialised in what the app is about, you need someone who understands the technical aspects of it. So, for a pharmaceutical app translation we will involve translators who do not only have the necessary experience with medical/pharmaceutical translations but also know their way around the computer, tablet or smart phone.”

As Ana puts it, “by perfectly understanding how your app works and what markets you’d like to reach, we can advise you on the best way forward and help you prepare a good quality, effective tool in other languages for your business needs. If you have any questions about translating your application into one or more languages, do let us know, we are here to answer them! Just send us an email at enquiries@firstedit.co.uk or call us on 01223 356 733.”

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