Content and Design Best Practices When Creating Multilingual Corporate Training

Damian Hehire-learning

6 Content and Design Best Practices When Creating Multilingual Corporate Training

Creating multilingual corporate training isn’t just about getting the text translated. Text and language also impact the visual appearance of e-learning courses, so changing the language can have a dramatic impact.

It isn’t just about visuals, either, as text is essential to the learning process. Voiceovers in videos and audio elements are similarly essential.

For these reasons, it’s important to consider the impact of different languages on the design of your e-learning corporate training courses. This should be done as early in the process as possible. Cost and time factors are important to consider, as well as the impact a change of language will have on the course and the learner experience.

When creating multilingual corporate training, the following content and design best practices are a good place to start.

1. Be Careful with Jargon

Jargon and industry-specific words and phrases should be used cautiously in multilingual, multinational corporate training. The people going through the training could have issues with these types of words and phrases, and even professional translators might struggle.

Where jargon or industry-specific content is unavoidable, you might need to provide explanations, including explanations to help the translator.

2. Avoid Slang, Localised Terms, and Local Cultural References

It is also best to avoid slang or localised terms, as well as localised cultural references, as they might not be understood by everyone, particularly people in a different geographical location.

If you are creating multilingual, multinational e-learning content, the best approach is to make the content universal using transferrable language.

3. Consider Other Local Factors

There are other local factors that are also important to consider:

  • Cultural factors – things can mean different things in different cultures, so it’s important to think about the impact on learner experience.
  • Symbols and icons – examples of the above include symbols and icons.
  • Scenarios – scenarios are another example, i.e., a scenario that makes sense to learners in one location might have less of an impact in another. It might even lead to confusion.
  • Content – in some cases, content can differ from location to location. Legal and regulatory information are examples.
  • Dates, measurements, and numbers – different locations represent dates, measurements, and numbers in different ways.
  • Technology available – people in one location might not have access to the same devices or broadband connectivity as another.

4. Take into Account Language Expansion, Contraction, and Direction

It is important to consider language expansion, contraction, and direction when designing an e-learning course, as these factors can have a significant impact on the visual design.

English, for example, is generally considered to be a succinct language, as other languages are, on average, 15 percent longer. Arabic, however, is 20-25 percent shorter on average than English.

These differences in length can cause problems when displaying text in an e-learning course. It’s also an important issue to consider in animations and videos, both in terms of text on the screen and in voiceovers. For voiceovers, it’s not about the length of printed text, but rather the difference in how long the script is to read.

The direction of text can also have an impact on the design of your e-learning course, with that impact having a knock-on effect on learner experience. Many languages in the world are left to right, so direction isn’t always an issue. However, when translating from English to Arabic or vice versa, you will need to think about the impact of the change of direction (English is left to right, Arabic is right to left) in the design of your e-learning course.

Even more consideration is needed if you are translating to or from a language that is written vertically, such as Japanese.

5. Think About Fonts

Think about how readable fonts will be in the languages you will be translating into. A font that looks great in one language might not have the same impact in another language. In some cases, fonts can even make text difficult to read.

When considering fonts, you should also think about the devices that learners will use when completing a course. This is especially important for mobile devices. In other words, it is beneficial to consider how fonts look on mobile devices in each of your languages.

6. Limit Text on Graphics

It is more difficult to change text on a graphic than it is to translate text in the text sections of your e-learning course. One of the reasons for this is that you may need help from a graphic designer.

However, the previous points are also important to consider in terms of text on graphics, i.e., text expansion, text contraction, text direction, and font. These are all factors that will have an influence on the appearance and overall effectiveness of the images in your multilingual corporate training course.

One Final Bonus Tip – Think About the Future

It is natural to think about your immediate training needs when developing a new e-learning course. For example, the training might just be required initially for staff in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

However, it can be advantageous in the long run to think about potential future needs in terms of language. Is it possible the course will need to be translated to another language in the future? Will the content of the course change and, if so, what impact will that have on the translated and localised versions?

In summary, creating multilingual corporate training, whatever the situation, requires proper planning and careful consideration of design best practices.