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Your Complete eLearning Translation Guide for 2024

elearning translation and localization guide

In a globalized world, training and education should be accessible and adaptable. This is especially true for businesses: the value of the global eLearning market is projected to grow to $406 billion in the next two years. Providing eLearning in multilingual contexts is crucial to expanding your international outreach, conquering new local markets, and maximizing profits.

To deliver your eLearning content efficiently to diverse global audiences, your company needs to work out the best approach for eLearning translation and/or localization. And here’s where you may hit a roadblock. What is eLearning translation? How will your business benefit from it? What tools can you use to localize your eLearning courses?

We will answer all these questions and more in this comprehensive guide on eLearning translation and localization.


  1. eLearning Translation vs. eLearning Localization: Key Differences
  2. Why Translate Your eLearning Materials
  3. Interesting eLearning Statistics You Need to Know in 2023
  4. How to Translate eLearning Content Effecitvely
  5. Best Tools for Efficient eLearning Translation
  6. Best Tips for eLearning Translation and Localization
  7. Translation Tutorials for Specific eLearning Authoring Tools

eLearning Translation vs. eLearning Localization: Key Differences

When you bring your eLearning courses to a new local market, you can either translate or localization. While both options strive to achieve the similar goal of sharing content in a different language, they are not entirely the same.

What is eLearning translation?

eLearning translation is the process of delivering your educational content in another language word-for-word. It means that you translate the content directly without changing the meaning significantly.

By translating your eLearning courses, you make them accessible to global learners while preserving the original, universal message of your source content.

What is eLearning localization?

eLearning localization is the process of adapting your course to cater to a specific foreign audience. It means that you change certain aspects of your course to fit the cultural context of the new locale.

For example:

  • You might change the imagery in your eLearning course to make it more appropriate and appealing to the target audience.
  • You might change the units of measurement used throughout your course to the local standard (weight, date and time, currency, etc.).
  • You should make sure your course content doesn’t carry inappropriate or offensive connotations in the target learners’ culture.

eLearning Translation or eLearning Localization: Which Should You Choose?

Both eLearning translation and eLearning localization are great strategies to increase your global outreach. However, depending on your goals and the type of courses you create, you should choose which one suits your business better.

  • eLearning translation is good for more “technical” content. It includes practical employee training, special skill training (unless these are culture-specific soft skills), or information transfer. These types of eLearning courses are not culturally bound so you rarely need to change your content apart from ensuring the translation quality.
  • eLearning localization is preferable if your courses deal with culture-specific matters and topics. Say, one section of your employee training course focuses on the best business negotiation strategies, or office etiquettes. These will likely vary from culture to culture so you’ll need to invest in localizing the content to be relevant to your international learners.
eLearning Translation eLearning Localization
Short definition The process of converting your educational content to another language without changing the meaning significantly The process of adjusting and adapting your course to fit the local culture, values, and interests
Suitable for which course types Practical employee training (hard skills), universal information transfer Culture-specific training and knowledge (e.g. soft skills)
Examples Adobe Photoshop Guides, Introduction to Digital Marketing Automation Tools, Workshop on CV writing for International Companies Guides on proper etiquette in the workplace, Workshop on Business Negotiation Strategies, Client Relations: A Course on Best Techniques

Why Translate Your eLearning Materials

A high quality multilingual eLearning product brings numerous advantages to your business, including:

  • A greater customer or employee reach. With eLearning courses available in many languages, you can deliver valuable knowledge to your global clients and employees. IMore people will be able to connect with your brand and experience a deeper resonance with your brand.
  • Higher rates of customer and employee satisfaction. 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native language, even if they are highly proficient in English. By providing eLearning content in various languages you will effectively cater to the market needs and improve customer or employee experience.
  • A more productive workplace. If you create educational content for employee training, eLearning translation is essential to keep your global employees equipped with up-to-date professional knowledge. Multilingual courses help you maintain balanced training for in-house and remote staff, improving company productivity and performance.
  • Fostering inclusivity. This perk is especially important for HR departments and corporate professionals. Providing eLearning content in multiple languages is the best way to ensure no employee is left out of the loop no matter where they are and what their native language is.

Interesting eLearning Statistics You Need to Know in 2023

Investing in eLearning has proven benefits. Now imagine the following statistics being doubled or tripled as you break into new language markets with your eLearning product.

  1. Last year, the eLearning market size reached $315 billion. It is predicted to experience a 20% CAGR up to 2028.
  2. 68% of people want to have flexible learning opportunities in the workplace.
  3. 42% of companies that use eLearning generate more income.
  4. eLearning helps increase retention rates by 25-60%.
  5. Every $1 a company invests in eLearning generates up to $30 in productivity.
  6. More than 70% of organizations believe that eLearning helps them to be more competitive.

How to Translate eLearning Content Efficiently

There is a wide variety of tools out there you can use to create your eLearning courses. Some of these tools have built-in translation features. However, most of them strive to provide flexibility in terms of the translation methods you prefer to use.

That’s why the majority of learning management systems (LMS) has an eLearning content export feature. With the help of this feature, you can translate your course in three simple steps.

Step 1: Extract the course content into an exchange file

To streamline the eLearning translation process, you need to “squeeze” the textual portion of your course out of the course authoring tool.

Exchange files are like special containers that can deliver your textual content from point A (your LMS) to point B (your translator or translation software). And they do so without compromising the structure and layout of your course.

Translation and localization industry professionals use a variety of exchange file formats to translate eLearning courses. These formats ensure a quick and structured transfer of textual content between an LMS and another type of software.

The most widely used exchange file formats are:

  • XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML files are plain text documents you can view and edit in various text editors and other programs. XML files use <tags> to define and categorize data. Learn more about this format in our detailed guide to XML translation.
  • XLIFF (Localization Interchange File Format). XLIFF is a type of XML document that’s specifically used for translation and localization projects. Read more about this file type in this blog post about XLIFF translation.
  • JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). This is a lightweight format for data interchange that stores JavaScript objects in textual form. JSON is a great choice for localizing and translating JavaScript-based projects, including e-learning content.

Pro-tip: In some types of learning management systems, such as Articulate Rise 360, you should duplicate your course before exporting the content as an exchange file. This ensures your original course does not get written over by the new language version.

Step 2: Translate the exchange file

Once you have exported your eLearning course as an exchange file, you can translate the content in three different ways:

  • Translate it manually in a text editor. This is the most time-consuming translation method for an exchange file. You can opt for manual translation if you have a small course and you’re proficient in both the source and the target languages. However, manual translation always brings higher risks of errors and requires a lot of effort.
  • Hire a vendor to translate the course for you. This is a great option if you know a translator or agency you can trust. Professional translators will deliver high-quality output and meet all your requirements. Besides, experienced language experts may be familiar with the authoring tools you’re using and import the translations back for you. Learn where to find a good translator in our detailed guide. You can also calculate the estimate translation cost for your eLearning project by referring to this article.
  • Translate the content with the help of translation software. Translation software such as translation management systems is the best choice if you want to better organize and scale eLearning translation. It allows you to automate the translation process and boost the productivity of your translation team every step of the way.

Step 3: Import the translated file back to the LMS and publish your course in the target language(s)

When you’re done translating the eLearning content using your preferred method, it’s time to import the content back into your course authoring tool.

To do this, simply upload the translated exchange file to the eLearning platform you’re using. You will be able to view and publish the translated course almost instantly.

  • Do you want to learn how to translate eLearning content created in specific authoring tools or learning management systems? Then jump to this section of our guide to find the tool you’re working with.

Best Tools for Efficient eLearning Translation and Localization

You can use a wide range of tools to establish a productive eLearning translation workflow. Here are some tools that will help you be quick and cost-effective as you scale your translation efforts.

Tool 1: Translation Management Systems (TMS)

A translation management system like is a type of software that helps you streamline and automate your translation process from start to finish. TMS is a centralized platform you can use to:

  • Collect, store, and circulate your eLearning assets and their translations.
  • Automate different steps in the translation process that are usually done manually.
  • Translate and edit your eLearning content.
  • Manage translation projects and collaborate with your localization team.

To put it simply, a TMS helps you avoid various localization problems you might usually face in your workflow. By using a TMS, you can:

  • Minimize your translation costs.
  • Eliminate repetitive manual work.
  • Protect your data and project assets.

Most translation management systems are integrated with Machine Translation and Translation Memories, which we’ll explore next. An example of a TMS is Redokun.

Tool 2: Machine Translation (MT)

You can use machine translation (MT) to assist you and your team in translating eLearning courses. Modern MT tools provide high-quality translation suggestions in real time and help you speed up the overall process.

Machine Translation helps you translate faster, reach higher accuracy, and ensure increased consistency across the course materials and their different language versions.

The best thing about MT is the constant improvements made on the algorithm. For the past two years, machine translation providers have added more than 2,000 language pairs to their databases, including many low-resource languages. So if you’re still wary of MT and unsure of its capabilities, remember that at its current iteration, MT is truly powerful as a support system to your translation work.

Tool 3: Translation Memories (TM)

Translation Memories are an amazing addition to your toolbox. In fact, more than 80% of professional translators regularly work with MT. This technology stores a unique database of terms, phrases, sentences, and even entire paragraphs from your approved translations and appiles this data to your future projects.

When you translate your new eLearning course, TM finds segment matches with previously translated documents and suggests the approved translations for your current text. These suggestions are put forward based on the degree of similarity between the old and new source segments:

  • You may use only the 100% segment matches for identical text units. The translation suggestion in theses cases would be accurate because your team approved it before.
  • TM also works with fuzzy matches - a text segment that is kind of similar to something else your team has translated earlier. While you can’t use the suggested translation directly, you can modify a few words to suit the new context.

One of the biggest advantages of TM is that the more you use it, the more efficient it becomes. As you keep adding more content to your unique TM database, it offers you more and more matches for new content translation. In other words, the more you use TM, the less you will need to translate — the tool will do it for you.

Tool 4: Glossary

A glossary of terms is another tool that will aid your translation team. It helps translators maintain consistent use of key terms across the courses in different languages.

In a nutshell, a glossary is a list of terms and their specific translations for a particular language pair. Translators can use a glossary to look up the exact translations they need to use, especially in highly technical or scientific texts where specific terminologies must always be used. This way, they will populate your eLearning course with the right terminology without the need to translate new terms using only their best judgment.

Best Tips for eLearning Translation and Localization

Apart from using the right tools, there are other steps you can take before, and during the translation stage to ensure a smooth workflow and high translation quality. Here are more tips you should know before starting a new eLearning translation project.

(A) Tips for Pre-Translation Stage

Tips for Pre-Translation Stage

Tip 1: Plan for translation or localization in advance

Before you actually start developing the eLearning courses, consider how your content will resonate with global audiences.

In other words, think of your eLearning course as an international educational product right from the start.

  • This mindset will help you build the best content strategy to make your course universally useful for learners independent of their location. You will be better equipped to populate the course with relevant data, appropriate messages, and valuable ideas. By planning to be as universal as possible, you will also save time during translation because most of the content can be easily translated.

Tip 2: Review your eLearning translation budget

It’s safe to say that you want your eLearning localization efforts to be cost-effective. However, it can be challenging to stay within the budget when you translate big or complex courses. Let’s you need to translate an eLearning course that includes audio and video materials or pages of additional text in the form of handouts. Translating all of the course components can cost your business a pretty penny.

That’s why you should keep in mind the possible translation budget limitations at the stage of course creation.

  • Decide which additional aspects of your course are more important to the learner’s experience. Prioritize translating these elements and omit less non-essential ones.
  • You can also cut down on audio and video assets in your eLearning course. These elements are usually the most expensive assets for translation. If you have a smaller budget, these elements can be explored and developed when you’re further into your global market expansion.

These simple precautions will help you curb translation expenses down the road.

Tip 3: Optimize the language and imagery of the original eLearning course for translation

If you want to save your translators time and effort and speed up time to market, you can optimize your original course content before sending it off for translation.

By following several simple steps, you will make sure your eLearning course in the source language is translation-friendly:

  • Keep your writing concise and simple. The rule of thumb is to use shorter sentences with direct word order. Complex sentence structures may be a challenge to translate even for experienced translators.
  • Steer clear of using slang, jargon, and idioms. These language elements are often hard to translate because they may not have direct equivalents in other languages. Even when translated, they might carry ambiguous meanings in the new language. That’s because slang and idioms are very culture-specific.
  • Avoid synonyms (especially when using terms). The thing is, a pair of synonymic words in one language can have very different meanings in another language. This disparity can result in confusion and misunderstanding for your learners, especially when they deal with important course terminology. Try to stick to the same word choice across your course content to ensure accurate terminology translation.
  • Use culturally neutral images. Be careful with the images you use in your eLearning content. Avoid illustrations that may be controversial or ambiguous. Foreign learners can misinterpret such images or just fail to understand the message you’re trying to convey.

Pro-tip: If you have an opportunity, get a native speaker to look through your translated course content before publication.

(B) Tips for In-Translation Stage

Tips for In-Translation Stage

Now that you’ve implemented the pre-translation tips, it’s time to consider the best practices for the actual translation process.

Tip 4: Anticipate and prepare for text expansion

Did you know that translating English to other languages often results in the translation taking up more characters? Just consider these stats:

  • English-to-German translation can result in 35-45% more text.
  • English-to-Hindi can give you 15-30% more text.
  • English-to-Greek typically results in 5-10% text expansion.

Why is it important? Because this change in text volume can lead to design issues with your eLearning course. The translated text may not fit in the slide or page and overflow into other slides or pages.

To avoid this translation problem down the road, you can:

  • Ensure that your text boxes are not squeezed together and have enough “breathing space”. This ensures your translation has enough room to expand, if needed.

Tip 5: Watch out for images with embedded text

Another problem you might face in the process of eLearning translation is handling images with text. If you use illustrations with text on them, do note that this text is not automatically exported as part of the exchange file for translation.

Subsequently, you will end up publishing a course translation that still features illustrations with the text in the original language.

Here are three different ways solve this issue:

  • Extract the text from the image, translate it with translation software or in a text editor, and import the translated text back into the image. Usually with the help of the original image designer.
  • Use image translation software. It recognizes and automatically translates text in images. However, this usually requires a separate paid service.
  • Omit or replace images with embedded text from the course slides. You can opt to include the text as a caption that appears under the image instead of on the image. Captions will be included in the exchange file that you export from your course authoring tool.

Tip 6: Translate multimedia course attachments and extra course materials the smart way

eLearning courses can be much more than just slides or pages with texts and images. Your course may also include a variety of supplementary attachments like:

  • Handouts (worksheets, notes, etc.)
  • Audio commentary
  • Video content

Translating additional eLearning course assets can add to your translation costs. But you can effectively cut down on added translation costs if you centralize your translation efforts. How?

Choose a translation management system that supports various file formats. This way, you won’t have to turn to another platform or hire a translation agency to translate different types of course components.

For instance, Redokun supports versatile file formats that can suit your eLearning translation needs, no matter what type of documents you include with your course. With Redokun, you can translate different document types, such as Adobe InDesign, PowerPoint, PDF, Word, SRT subtitles, and more.

Translation Tutorials for Specific eLearning Authoring Tools

Do you use a specific tool to create your eLearning courses? Check our list of eLearning translation guides for various platforms.

Each guide contains a simple step-by-step tutorial so you can establish a reliable, accurate, and cost-effective eLearning translation workflow.

  1. 360Learning Course Translation Guide
  2. Adobe Captivate Course Translation Guide
  3. Articulate Rise 360 Course Translation Guide
  4. DominKnow One Course Translation Guide
  5. Easygenerator Course Translation Guide
  6. Elucidat Course Translation Guide
  7. Evolve Course Translation Guide
  8. Gomo Course Translation Guide
  9. iSpring Suite Max Course Translation Guide
  10. Lectora Course Translation Guide
  11. Storyline 360 Course Translation Guide


If you want to expand your business and reach new markets with your educational content, it’s the perfect time to master eLearning translation and localization.

Make sure to plan your eLearning translation goals ahead, use the best tools, and leverage the best eLearning translation practices for greater results.

Redokun is here to help your business manage translation projects of any scale. Start your 14-day free trial today and start translating productively with your team today!

Till next time,


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