Five Tips for Translating Educational Materials

Proper training is the key to success for any business regardless of the sector it operates in. Since many companies are international, it is important to provide training to all employees preferably in their mother tongue in order to get better results. Therefore, translating educational materials becomes a priority not only for the educational institutions themselves but also for any company that wants to grow. 

Educational and training materials are specific as they are often addressing certain issues or presenting a given subject or idea in a specific context. No matter if the translation is made for materials meant for younger students or for grown-up experts in a given field, there are certain tips that can help ensure accuracy, consistency, and overall high quality of the translation.

1. Maintain a consistent tone while translating educational materials

Each piece of education and training material bears a specific tone and style in accordance with the target audience it is created for. Some of the texts are rather formal and more sophisticated, while others are quite informal, easy-going, and light to read. In any case, the text bears the specific style of the organization and the author that has created the documents.

The job of the experienced translator is to recreate the same message in the target language while keeping the tone and style of the original document. E-learning localization makes the text culturally appropriate for the target audience while staying true to the authentic text.

In order to assist the translator in the job of translating educational materials, any guide or reference of the preferred organization style is welcomed and will add to the quality of the translated text.

2. Ensure the consistency of the translated educational materials 

Quite often educational materials are a series of documents that either cover one and the same topic or are used for the same audience. In either case, it is essential to maintain the consistency of the texts when translating educational materials so that the learners can have the same reference base, and source for upgrading and improving their knowledge.

Therefore, it is important to select a language service provider who is familiar with the process of translating educational materials and who can be your long-term partner in this undertaking. Maintaining a database or translation memory for each client and each project is a prerequisite that the translation provider can guarantee consistency of the translated materials.

Providing your translator with a glossary, previously translated documents or any other reference materials is of paramount importance for achieving this goal.  

3. Pay attention to the context during the translation of educational materials 

Context plays a significant role in translation since it gives clues about the meaning of certain words or phrases, and clarifies the cultural nuances and references. Context is also of great importance for educational and training materials as one concept presented in different situations may change its meaning or impact on the learners.

So, it is necessary to give the translated material the same context as the one implied in the original. This can be achieved by proper localization of the cultural nuances and references used, which is done by experienced translators who translate into their mother tongue and who have knowledge of the subject matter of the original text.

4. Use the appropriate cultural references when translating educational materials  

Educational materials differ from technical documentation, for example, in the sense that they more often use cultural references or specific notions for a certain location, group, company, age, etc. The aim of such linguistic cues is to make the material more understandable for the learner and to properly interact with them. 

To communicate the same message and effect across languages, translators need to properly localize the cultural references used in the original text. For example, educational material that needs to be translated into English should be properly adapted according to the target audience, be it in the UK, the USA, or another English-speaking country.

As cultural references are a significant part of the educational and training materials, an accurate and efficient translation takes it into account and presents it properly in the translated version. Thus, the translated material bears the same connotations to the learners regardless of the language they speak.  

In some cases, a material bears a specific motto that aims to engage the learners from the very beginning. Quite often such short inspiring texts are hard to translate and, in such cases, transcreation may be a more appropriate approach.  

5. Localize properly the non-verbal elements of the educational materials  

Educational materials usually contain a great number of non-verbal elements such as images, charts, tables, and the like. They help the learner visualize specific concepts and are an intrinsic part of the efficient teaching approach. It is essential for such elements to be created with translation in mind so that they can be easier translated and localized into as many languages as needed.

While some of the above-listed non-verbal elements are quite obvious, below is a list of some other components that should be properly localized during the translation process:

  • Dates 
  • Figures and numbers 
  • Street names 
  • Company names and logos 
  • Currency  

These elements should be well-researched and rendered in the correct way in the target language to support your high translation and localization quality standards.

At Argo Translation, we are more than happy to help you translate your educational and training materials into any language that you need. 


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