How to translate quality multilingual L&D content

Translated learning and training programmes, when done badly, are like listening to someone retell a joke when they’ve forgotten the punchline. It’s difficult to understand, frustrating to deliver and underwhelming.

When done well, L&D content should be just as engaging regardless of the language it’s consumed in. That’s why it’s so important to take considered steps to get high-quality translations.

Whether you’re new to translations or not, if you’re looking to save time and costs, whilst increasing quality and effectiveness, this blog is for you. We’ve pulled together three areas that should help you deliver high quality learning and training programmes regardless of language.

If you haven’t got time to read this post now, download a copy of our latest L&D translation guide that shares some practical steps you can take to improve your multilingual learning content. Please click here for your copy.

Expert linguists – increase quality of translated programmes

To increase the effectiveness of your global learning programmes it makes sense to get the right linguists on board. Not just native-speaking translators, but also people who have relevant experience in your industry. That’s because they’ll know the most appropriate translations of industry terminology and have a good idea of working practices in your sector. This helps to ensure that the translated content, especially technical terminology, is relevant to your global workers.

We also recommend that your translation team includes linguists with L&D expertise. Their experience will ensure the final translations engage global learners and result in positive learner outcomes. They can also share useful knowledge and insights about training methods in their market to improve the quality of your learning programmes.

Not all translation service providers offer this level of specialisation, so it’s worthwhile establishing what experience their translators have.

Technology – delivers time and cost savings

Most L&D teams we work with are under pressure to deliver their multilingual programmes against tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. So where can they get time and cost savings?

Translation technology is one solution: although it’s not often available to in-house translation teams, and sometimes even translation service providers don’t invest in these tools.

Here are some of the solutions we use, and how they reduce time and costs for our clients:

Translation memory software – briefly, this technology stores approved translations of terminology, common phrases and regularly repeated sentences and paragraphs. If you have a large volume of content to translate or various different projects, it can reduce the amount of content that has to be translated from scratch. The translation memory software compares the new source content against the approved translations and identifies any matches. Our translation team can then quickly accept or reject these suggestions, reducing the number of words that have to be translated. Saving time and money.

Other tools such as translation management system and online review platform help to streamline the translation process, manage it more effectively and reduce time. Ask your translation partner about what they use.

Centralise translations – increases consistency and quality

Working with one translation partner can also improve the quality and effectiveness of your global learning programmes, as well as making project management a lot easier. If, until now, you’ve used local market teams or different translation agencies to translate and localise your learning materials, the following issues may be familiar:

  • Quality: unless you’re bilingual, you may not know whether the completed translations are high quality enough, and in line with your organisation’s standards and expectations.
  • Timing: many L&D teams we work with need to launch programmes simultaneously in multiple markets. This can be very hard to do when translations are handled by lots of different parties, leading to delayed programmes.
  • Equal opportunities: without having control over the final translations, there’s a chance of inconsistencies developing between different markets. Some local employees might not get the same quality of training material or the same information.
  • Company policies: if your programmes need to reflect global company policies, it can be hard to know that these have been retained when a programme is translated by the local market. This is a particular problem if your organisation has recently acquired or merged with another company in a local market, as the local team may not be fully on board with these directives.
  • Employer brand: learning and training programmes also need to reflect the global employer brand, and this can be diluted when translations are handled by the local market, rather than by a central team.

These are some of the reasons why the L&D teams we work with have centralised their translation projects, instead of managing them regionally. If you’re considering outsourcing your learning and development translations for the first time, or switching providers, I would recommend working with just one trusted translation partner that can deliver a translation in multiple languages.

In summary, here are 3 things that will help you get better translations:

  1. Use technology to speed up translations, reduce costs and improve consistency,
  2. Make sure your translation team has sector-specific and L&D expertise,
  3. Centralise your translations to improve quality, consistency and streamline project management.

Don’t forget to download our L&D translation guide which shares practical advice for overcoming common challenges in the translation and localisation process. Please download your free copy here.

global L&D programme


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