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The Localization after-thought: “Oh, we need to also get this sales training eLearning Module into our global offices … call our language vendor now!” Despite the pleas to involve us early in the Module’s source language design and development, we regularly receive calls from our clients who are in a slight rush to get their English eLearning module into Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, German, French, and Spanish as soon as possible. It’s OK, responding to this scenario for almost 5 years has made us very good and very fast at creating multi-lingual versions for our clients, often within 3 weeks.

For those of you who are true planners and are interested in saving time and money in localization projects, then draw near to learn the secrets of hassle-free localization. In Part 1 of this series, we focused on the upfront coordination aspect of getting native language specialists to engage early to evaluate text, pictures, images, and video footage in order to recommend potential cultural roadblocks that may turn the audience’s attention away if left alone.

In this Part 2 content, we drill down to what the Instructional Designer can do while creating the source Module to enable a lower-cost localized product with a much higher probability of true, on-time delivery. Remember from our Part 1 article, if the localized version is not translated, performed, and synchronized to professional standards on the day of delivery, then it is NOT on time. If re-work is necessary, then the project is officially late – right?

  • Minimize text creativity. For some Instructional Designers and other content developers, this may come across unnatural. Yet, translation costs are driven by the number of new The more phrases are repeated, previous translations of those phrases can be inserted at basically no charge. Harness the desire to creatively re-state the same idea and save some localization dollars – especially when 5,10, or 15 languages are involved.
  • Create white space. Independent of language pair, translation of content leads to an expanded number of characters. In the source language presentation, be sure to leave plenty of “white” space so that newly translated text, with more characters, can be inserted with minimal impact on graphics and other text.

Note: some clients insist on limiting the translation through imposing character limitations on the translated version. This can be done but may lead to more risk in capturing the true message.

  • Slide Complexity. Although animation and images should enhance the engagement experience of the learner, these complexities also add cost to the synchronization effort. If images are to be used, and they contain any text, be sure that the images have text boxes that are editable.
  • Review of the translated script. Your language services vendor should send the translated script before having the voice artist record in the studio. Voice recording is often the primary cost driver of many localization projects. Therefore, to approve the translated script prior to the expensive recording sessions saves both money and time in completing the project.
  • Voice Options. Professional voice actors recording within a studio environment is the industry standard for multi-media localization. Lower cost technologies are available: subtitling, synthesized voices, field (home) recordings, and text-to-speech. All of these options have side effects either inaccuracy or ineffectiveness, but they are technologies that may ease the budget issue, especially as technologies evolve.
  • Final source content. Perhaps the greatest threat to keeping a localization quote as the truly firm and fixed price is the fluid nature of source content. If the localization effort starts in the midst of changing source content, the vendor has no choice but to continually pass on its additional costs for modifying transcripts, slide translations, voice recordings, and synchronization efforts.

It is always a good idea to speak to your localization provider early in the source design process to gain some perspective on lowering your long-term localization costs. A localization company like Global eLearning, which is dedicated to the eLearning industry, will provide a free consultation to those companies already committed to multi-lingual content.

Gary Schulties

Gary Schulties