A Few Words

Annette Heidrich

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Getting the Most From Your eLearning & Training Investments

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Oct 15, 2015 10:06:00 AM

“The World is Flat,” declared Thomas Friedman in his 2005 examination of global business and competition. He said that through technology such as social media and ecommerce, the business world is experiencing globalization at hyper speed. The World Trade Organization bears this out: in 1980 there were 27,000 multinational corporations. There are 128,000 today.

When a company expands internationally, they face new challenges training their global workforce. Even for domestic-only companies, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the U.S. among a growing number of other foreign language speakers.
In the recent U.S. Census, 24% of those that speak another language at home admit to speaking English “not well” or “not well at all." Since it is difficult to divulge this in the workplace, it has become a business imperative to conduct employee training in multiple languages.

HR, Talent and Learning consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte has found that top-performing companies allocate more money to talent development than other companies. Bersin calls them “high-impact learning organizations,” and they reap the benefits of investing in training and development by financially outperforming their peers. They produce profit growth three times that of their competitors (Bersin, 2012).

Today, the best way to make employee training engaging is with eLearning platforms such as Moodle, Edmodo or Blackboard. But to maximize the value of this investment – and more importantly to ensure that health and safety information is quickly and completely learned – delivering employee communication in the language of the workforce is essential.

eLearning course content translation can be complex. There are difficult challenges, such as the need to quickly translate high volumes of content, often in multiple types of file formats (such as Flash, XML, and other multimedia formats). Voice-over content needs to be transcribed and re-recorded or edited down for subtitling. Then all localized components must be smoothly integrated back into the eLearning environment.

Our deep experience with eLearning platforms and related technologies ensures a smooth localization process and high-quality results. We want to make sure that all of your employees receive the same benefit and value that the best employee training provides. Elanex delivers eLearning localization services to enable your organization to respond effectively to the exponential growth of the non-English speaking world. Contact us today to learn more.

Topics: Localization, Employee Communication and HR, Best Business Practices

10 Essential Tips of eLearning Translation and Localization

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Feb 4, 2015 11:44:00 AM

Localizing eLearning material can be an effective way to ensure that your global customers and staff are receiving appropriate training by making it available in their native language. Effective eLearning localization can help make sure that training materials are replicated across all of your target markets. With many moving parts, eLearning and training translation can be quite complex. However, with the proper preparation, you can eliminate unnecessary costs and foster an efficient process to keep the project on schedule. A key responsibility of your translation partner is to know the intricacies of culturally diverse audiences. This is particularly important when it comes to localization of eLearning and educational materials.


Here are 10 tips to help avoid common localization issues when preparing your eLearning applications for a multilingual audience.

1. Create content that is translation-friendly. Examples of this include using bulleted lists, as opposed to lengthy and wordy paragraphs. Avoid jargon/slang and idiomatic expressions. Sentences should be short, in active voice, and well-constructed.

2. Use images carefully. Reduce the number of screenshots, use culturally-neutral images, and exercise caution when using metaphorical images or pictures that feature people making gestures. Cultural relevance is important. As an example, images of road signs from the United States should be changed to market suitable images for each country – a sign that says, “Stop” means little to a Chinese reader. The “Ok” hand gesture has an entirely different, negative meaning in Brazil.

3. When using graphics, avoid embedded text. While they can be edited by a graphic designer, this requires additional cost and time because retouching may be required to restore the background after removing and replacing the text.

If a graphic does contain embedded text, having access to the source file can save a lot of headaches if the original artwork files contain editable text layers. This allows text to be extracted, translated, and replaced with less graphic design time. Typically, the content package includes secondary files (PNG or GIF) instead of the original source files (Illustrator or Photoshop), so you may need to ask specifically for source assets.

4. Avoid embedding screen text in scripts such as Javascript or VBScript. If you can’t avoid using text strings in your script, help your localization partner to easily locate and mange the localizable text (see #5).

5. Bundle your text strings. Text strings (a group of characters used as data) can be bundled together as variables in an external resource file, or you can assemble them in one location in the code as a collection of variables, identified as localizable.

6. Be mindful of expanding text. Non-English text tends to be longer than the English equivalent and can present a challenge if the text container is not flexible. Depending on the language, translated text can expand 20 to 50 percent. Verify your design and code to ensure longer texts can be supported. Areas that are susceptible to problems are horizontal navigation bars, menus and other text containers with limited space to expand.

7. Avoid string sequences/concatenation. Avoid language constructions that contain fragments of text combined with variables. Other languages may need to have those segments in a different order, or the translation of certain pieces might be different depending on the variable (case, gender).

8. Reduce complex content integration. Whenever possible, avoid integrating content that is created using a combination of different technologies, formats and tools. Examples of this are fixed time constraints or time-synched audio/video with on-screen subtitles. It may take longer for narration in a non-English language, for example. The more complicated the creation process of those elements, the more complex the localization process might be.

9. Source versions of the files used in the final product should be made available for localization. Typically, technologies used for eLearning products have two versions of source: editable and published versions. If the editable version is not available, then the localized version needs to be built from scratch following translations or, in the case of multiple languages, rebuilt before starting translation. This is costly, introduces opportunities for errors, and adds to project time.

10. Make Audio/Video content considerations. Determine at the outset if you want a timed audio or synced recording or if a non-timed audio recording is suitable. This will depend if the video is graphic only or if there are people speaking to camera. These choices will determine how the translation and recording is managed. If possible include a generous buffer in the audio. Keep the script as culturally neutral as possible (e.g. avoid sports metaphors). Give clear guidelines for pronunciation to the voice talent.

Have any other tips to share? Please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Topics: Localization, Employee Communication and HR, Resources, Translation Basics

Know Your Languages: Somali – Picking the right words and the appropriate writing system

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Dec 17, 2014 5:58:00 PM

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Gulf of Aden, and has a population of 10 million people. The official languages of Somalia are Arabic and Somali. Manysomalia_map Somalis left their country after the outbreak of a civil war in the 1990s, seeking asylum. This caused the increase in demand of translation into Somali by mainly Government departments and NGOs.

A number of different writing systems have been used for Somali. The Somali Latin alphabet, which has been the official writing script since 1972, is the most widely used. This script was specifically developed by a linguist and uses all letters of the English alphabet, except p, v and z.  Other scripts have been used for centuries including an Arabic-based abjad known as Wadaad’s writing, and the Boroma, Omanya and Kaddare alphabets. Samples can be seen below:













Latin alphabet:

Aadanaha dhammaantiis wuxuu

dhashaa isagoo xor ah kana

siman xagga sharafta iyo xuquuqada

Waxaa Alle (Ilaah) siiyay aqoon iyo

wacyi, waana in qof la arkaa qofka

kale ula dhaqmaa si walaaltinimo ah


Somali is a very rich language and when translating from English into Somali, this has to be taken into consideration. A word-for-word translation wouldn't work, as the concepts have to be ‘translated’ into the Somali cultural context .

Another challenge when translating into Somali is that only a small segment of the society has studied Somali spelling in school and has been able to master the written language. New Somali terms were created to express concepts that did not previously exist in the language, mainly relating to the way of life, health and government and education. It is therefore important to determine which script is best suited for the target audience and subject matter being conveyed.


Topics: Know Your Languages

Know Your Languages: Rohingya - An Evolving Alphabet Leads to Challenges in Translation

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Nov 19, 2014 10:57:00 AM

Rohingya is spoken by around 3 million people in Burma and parts of Thailand. It is the written and spoken language of the Rohingya Muslim people who are from the State of Arakan in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in South East Asia. In recent years, they have been in the news for being persecuted for theirRohingya_map religion. This has led many to flee to bordering Thailand and Bangladesh.

Their language is derived from the Bengali language and is similar to the Chittagonian dialect spoken in nearby Chittagong, Bangladesh. The Rohingya's second language is either Urdu (for studying at religious schools) or Burmese (for studying at government schools). The study of English is also very much encouraged. You can find many words from Urdu, Hindi, Burmese and English assimilated into the Rohingya language.

Rohingya has been written in Arabic and Burmese for hundreds of years. In the 1980s a new alphabet called Hanifi was invented.  Hanifi, however, is written right-to-left, which makes it awkward to use on some computers and mobile devices.  This led to the development of Rohingyalish or Rohingyalic, a new writing system that uses the Latin alphabet plus some additional letters. It is constantly evolving and updated as new vocabulary is added. Rohingya is recognised by ISO with the ISO 639-3 code "rhg". The below tables show the two scripts currently in use.

Rohingyalish Character Set 






























Hanafi Script


The Rohingya do not have an automatic right to education, which presents a challenge for translating into or from Rohingya as there are a limited number of people who have the education or experience to do so. Accordingly, with so few professional translators available, the turnaround time for this language pair is generally much longer than for other more common languages. This should be considered when planning translation into or from Rohingya.

Rohingya is not a common request from commercial clients.  Most requests tend to be from government or aid organisations for communication with new arrivals or refugees/asylum seekers. When planning a Rohingyan job, it is important to confirm which form of Rohingya is required, and confirm that your team are all using the same form of Rohingya. Unless there is consistency, there will be problems when consolidating a large document translated by several translators, or, when sending a translation to an editor who does not use the same writing system. It is also important to confirm that your target market actually requires Rohingya, or if Burmese is a suitable alternative.




Topics: Know Your Languages

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