Best Practices

I am tasked with converting an english e-module into another language. I need best practices surrounding this. Such as, is it best to use audio and visuals? Should we convert the slides to the other language or leave them in english and just speak to them? Should we use subtitles?

5 Replies
Bob S

Hi Candace,

One lesson we've learned is with videos... These are the most troublesome/costly to localize in different languages. And the most problematic in terms of cultural sensitivity, idioms, etc. So we've found keeping the videos as "mood pieces" works well. Beautiful imagery, inspiration, etc with background music. That way  they have universal applicability.

If you follow this rule with your videos, you should not need to subtitle anything. Good thing, because subtitles are a bit tacky IMHO for e-learning. The learner wants to feel the content relates directly to themselves, not like a second class citizen taking someone else's training.

Pay to have both the slides and the narration done in the localized languages. Even mediocre voice talent in a learner's native language is preferential to the best, top dog, professional voicing done in a language they don't understand. 

The good news is there are lots of translation services available that specialize in this. They can also give you some good direction.

Hope this helps,


Nancy Woinoski

Hi Candace, It sounds like you already have the English course and now you want to convert it into another language - is this correct?

I do a lot of English courses that also have to be translated into French. My clients always want the user experience to be identical in both languagues. 

  • This means that all on screen text and UI elements would be converted to French.
  • Any images that contain English words would have to be replaced with French (so if designing the course from the beginning try to avoid using images that contain words).
  • If I used audio narration in the English version, it would have to be redone using a French narrator.
  • If the course contains a narrated video or a video of a person talking for example, we don't reshoot the video but will either replace the English audio with French or  dub over the English narration with a French audio track.
Bruce Graham

The other thing that you must appreciate if you are doing this is that there will be a difference in the size of the text boxes etc.

I recently went through an "English-to-French" exercise, and all our beautifully precise text box positions had to be re-worked because of the approximate 30% increase in space requirement.

All languages are different, and there's no "science" to guessing what changes will be needed, but you certainly need to mention it to your sponsor as a factor to be considered.