Effective translation in e-learning: 5 best practices according to professionals

Jun, 22, 2024
Tim Aleksandronets
Tim Aleksandronets
CEO at Blue Carrot


👉 Why do so many e-learning platforms invest in professional translations for their courses?

Consider this — the global e-learning market size, valued at USD 399.3 billion in 2022, is anticipated to grow at a 14% CAGR between 2023 and 2032 (Wadhwani, P., “Global Market Insights”, 2023). With the global pandemic and other instabilities, digital education has become a go-to option for obtaining new skills, developing professional skills, or learning new languages.

global-e-learning graphic

With an ever-increasing need for online learning materials, creating a course in only one language can limit its reach and make the content inaccessible to potential learners. Considering the array of cultures and languages spanning our world, the ability to translate educational content effectively is more crucial than ever.

A word-for-word translation is often ineffective because it doesn’t take into account professional jargon or learners’ backgrounds, which can be as much of an obstacle to learning outcomes as the absence of translated content.

👉 One way to avoid this is to integrate best practices into an e-learning translation project. By implementing best tips for e-learning translation project, companies that specialize in the localization of e-learning materials can ensure that e-learning content is translated accurately and consistently across different languages and cultures. They can also ensure that the content maintains the integrity and effectiveness of educational materials, leading to better learning outcomes.

🧐 This article delves into expert insights and best practices for e-learning translation, aiming to enhance online education projects and ensure the content resonates with diverse audiences and is accessible to learners around the globe.


  1. The role of translation in e-learning
  2. Best practices for e-learning translation
  1. Consider Blue Carrot your trusted partner

The role of translation in e-learning

The e-learning market is expected to reach $375 billion by 2026, meaning a greater need for multilingual content that caters to diverse global learners, thus driving the demand for e-learning translation services (GlobeNewswire, “E-Learning Market is Projected to Hit USD 848.12 Billion at a CAGR of 17.54% by 2030 – Report by Facts & Factors (FnF), 2023).

📌 Why not just use Google Translate or a similar automated translation service to convert a course to a new language? It’s not as simple as that. Translating e-learning materials is not just about converting text from one language to another; it’s about bridging cultural gaps and making education accessible to all.

A well-translated online course speaks to the target audience in their own language, not simply by translating each word but by considering cultural peculiarities, using familiar semantic constructions, maintaining consistency, and making sure that all the terminology corresponds to real-life uses in the target language.

A well-crafted e-learning translation is essential when it comes to enhancing the reach of educational programs. Educators not only extend their audience and introduce their course to new markets but also foster a global learning environment where everyone, regardless of language, has the opportunity to grow and learn.


Best practices for e-learning translation

Implementing e-learning translation tips recommended by experts streamlines the process, reducing errors, rework, and associated costs. It enables companies to develop and deploy a multilingual course more efficiently, saving time and resources.

👉 Let’s look at the top practices for creating e-learning translations recommended by Blue Carrot’s experts.

1. Start with an analysis of learning content

The first step of an e-learning translation is to carefully analyze the content so that the translation team can comprehensively evaluate the project’s scope and parameters.

The main task at this stage is to identify the constituent elements of the course — this includes determining the presence of elements such as:

  • On-screen text (OST);
  • Narration by voice-over artists;
  • Formulas or graphical elements.

Based on this analysis, the translation team can decide on the strategy and scope when assembling desktop publishing (DTP) teams and other necessary talent. By systematically evaluating the scope of expertise required, the team can select the skills and linguistic proficiencies needed to meet the project’s unique demands and objectives.

2. Hire translators specializing in your domain

After the course analysis comes the rigorous process of selecting professional translators and other forms of linguistic talent who will do the actual localization of the e-learning course.

Let us share how we approach e-learning content localization at Blue Carrot. We have an established step-by-step procedure to make sure that the assembled translation team is suitable for the project.

Initially, the process begins by clearly identifying the specific requirements necessary for the project. This involves determining several parameters, such as:

  • Fluency in both the source and target languages;
  • A profound understanding of industry-specific terminology and concepts suitable for the target audience;
  • Familiarity with e-learning platforms and instructional formats.

👉 How do we find suitable candidates? A multi-channel approach works best, involving several sources like:

  • Professional translation associations;
  • Specialized translation service providers;
  • Social media platforms;
  • Industry recommendations.

A manager or recruiter should focus on the industry and subject matter of the course to ensure a pool of candidates with relevant backgrounds.

👉 The screening process at Blue Carrot usually starts with a careful review of resumes, professional histories, and portfolios. Priority is given to translators with substantial experience in the subject matter and e-learning and those holding relevant certifications or degrees.

This is followed by a rigorous testing phase, during which candidates are evaluated on their ability to translate complex industry-specific material and adapt e-learning content accurately, as well as their grasp of jargon and instructional design principles.

📌 Another critical aspect of recruiting a translation team is the assessment of cultural competence and localization skills. Why is this important? It’s important because the learning content must be adapted appropriately to the target audience’s cultural context and adhere to industry standards within the chosen sector of the target locale. This phase might include practical tests on cultural sensitivity and localization strategies.

Our next step in the localization team recruitment process is verifying the candidate’s past work and references, focusing on their contributions to subject matter or e-learning projects. This process provides insights into their reliability, precision, and efficiency.

A round of interviews is our way to better understand the candidates’ knowledge, problem-solving capabilities, and communication skills.

For example, for one of our recent localization projects, we successfully assembled a linguistic team consisting of “unicorn” specialists with professional certifications and 5–15 years of proven linguistic and non-linguistic work experience in the energy domain, which was the subject matter of the course.

3. Develop a glossary and style guide

A glossary and style guide are vital for maintaining consistency and accuracy across the translated content.

What is a glossary? It’s a compilation of all terms, acronyms, industry-specific terminology, and any terms that have been identified as potentially ambiguous or challenging during the translation process. This ensures that each team member translates terms in the same way, thus avoiding any inconsistencies as each specialist might have their own corresponding term of choice.

📌 It’s important to involve both linguistic experts and industry professionals in this process to ensure the glossary covers all necessary terminology from both a linguistic and subject matter perspective.

A style guide is another critical document to have before starting the translation process. A style guide is essential for maintaining consistency in tone, style, formatting, and linguistic choices throughout the content of the course.

The style guide should address language-specific nuances, including but not limited to, voice, tone, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations and acronyms, and treatment of technical terms. It should also provide guidelines for culturally sensitive adaptations, ensuring that all content is appropriate for the target audience’s cultural context.

Remember, the style guide should be a living document, regularly updated as new terms or concepts are introduced during the localization process. 👨🏻‍🎓

4. Assemble a team of Subject Matter Experts

While developing the glossary and style guide, it is also crucial to assemble a team of subject matter experts (SMEs). These individuals should have a deep understanding of the course’s theme and possess expertise relevant to the intended audience for the e-learning courses.

Just like a glossary and style guide help maintain consistency and linguistic accuracy, SMEs make sure the translated content is technically precise and up-to-date with current industry standards and practices.

Thinking about creating an e-learning course, but don’t know where to start?

How does one find professional and reliable subject matter experts? Consider:

  • Reaching out to professionals within the industry;
  • Exploring professional networks;
  • Consulting with academic institutions or industry organizations.

Subject matter experts should work closely with the translation team, providing clarification, insight, and validation of the technical content throughout the localization process.

5. Introduce CAT and project management tools

Project management and computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools can significantly improve the translation effectiveness and precision of e-learning content.

Establishing a well-structured project using a dedicated project management tool specifically tailored for the localization phase helps track progress and assignments methodically.

Some of the project management software that we recommend for localization projects include:

  • Jira;
  • Asana;
  • Trello;
  • Monday;
  • Confluence for documentation, like glossaries and style guides;
  • Notion for documentation and material organization.

manage software samples

Each of these tools allows the translators, subject matter experts, managers, designers, and everyone else involved in the process to create and assign individual tasks. Plus, each task can be connected to a bigger section or project, streamlining the work organization and making everyone’s role and tasks clear.

It’s best to segment a localization project into distinct sections, each representing a stage of localization or content modules of the e-learning course. At Blue Carrot, we usually further subdivide each section into detailed tasks, ranging from translation to technical review. Each task is assigned to corresponding team members with clear deadlines and instructions.

Project management tools help team collaboration by enabling instant updates and queries and letting team members share and collaborate directly within each task.

Additionally, the translation team can keep essential resources like the glossary and style guide right in the project management tool’s interface, making it always at hand.

📌 Along with this, we recommend incorporating a CAT tool within the localization workflow to streamline translation tasks. A CAT tool is a software program that automates the translation process by saving commonly occurring words and phrases into a translation memory, integrating the glossary and style guide, and dividing the text into smaller, more digestible chunks. The graphic below demonstrates the increase in translation efficiency with the use of CAT tools. (Tabor, J., “CAT tool use by translators: what are they using?”,, 2019)

cat tool table

By importing the glossary and style guide into the tool, a translation team can maintain consistency across all translated materials. The CAT tool’s translation memory features allow existing translated text to be reused, which proves crucial for recurring terminology in e-learning materials.

Additionally, specialists can use the tool’s advanced translation quality control capabilities to systematically identify potential inconsistencies and errors.

At Blue Carrot, we rely on MemoQ, which proved to be an excellent CAT tool for the purposes of localizing e-learning courses. Other CAT tools that can be used for localization projects are:

  • SDL Trados;
  • SmartCat;
  • MemoQ;
  • Wordfast;
  • Matecat;
  • Across Translation Edition (ATE).

cat tool list

CAT tools also provide the advantage of maintaining strict version control, which means that all team members work from the latest content versions while keeping a detailed record of all changes.


Consider Blue Carrot your trusted partner

👉 Let us share an example of our recent e-learning localization project. It is a bit unusual, as we integrated artificial intelligence to help us adhere to a tight delivery deadline as well as lower the subject matter experts’ engagement in video making to maximize the efficiency of their input.

Within two months, we had to produce 70 hours of language-specific e-learning content in 4 languages. Our process started with analyzing the scope of content to be localized, including voiceovers, subtitles, texts on videos, texts on images, texts on slides, and others.

Then, we moved on to assembling a team that would combine linguistic skills, domain-specific knowledge, and e-learning experience to make sure that the course content is of top-notch quality in every language.

Our localization team included specialists with professional certifications and 5–15 years of proven experience:

  • 1 Delivery Manager;
  • 2 Project Managers;
  • 1 Technical Translation Lead;
  • 11 Translators;
  • 4 Lead Editors;
  • 4 Reviewers;
  • 3 Scriptwriters;
  • 2 Graphical Designers;
  • 4 Storyline Developers;
  • 2 Video Editors;
  • 3 QA Specialists.

Additionally, subject matter experts provided insights into the commonly used terminology and evaluated the overall correctness of the translated materials in the corresponding languages.

As we wanted to optimize the time SMEs spent on the project and get the maximum efficiency from their contribution, we decided not to engage SMEs for the video recordings and substituted their presentations with AI-generated avatars. In this way, we were able to get valuable information delivered in an engaging video presentation with numerous texts, audio, and graphs in four different languages.

Here’s the video in English:

And that’s the same information in German:

As with our other localization projects, we developed a glossary and style guide, plus a visual style guideline for videos, interactive slides, and graphical templates. All the text was translated in MemoQ, so every translator and editor could access the files and view updates.

Of course, we couldn’t skip the QA stage as it is paramount that the final videos in every language deliver the same engaging, clear, and comprehensive educational information. We subdivided the quality assurance into two flows for evaluating the linguistic and technical correspondence of the materials:

  • Technical QA checks: a review of translated texts and final media files (internal and on-platform).
  • Localization evaluation: localization quality evaluation process with native subject matter experts.

localization table

The final result turned out to be engaging, easy for viewers to comprehend, and all-encompassing in its content.

👉 Blue Carrot is ready to take on new e-learning content localization projects. Let’s gather a team of expert linguists and subject matter specialists to expand your educational content’s reach to a global audience.

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