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5 Tips for Translating Educational Materials

Updated: Jan 26

Publication date. 12.01.2024

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the interest in e-learning/educational materials has increased tremendously as well as the demand for several languages. By 2025 the global e-learning sector is expected to reach $325 billion, which is triple the value of 2015. That's why it is so important to ensure that translations are accurate, consistent and of a high standard. However, what do you have to consider when translating educational material? Here are some tips!

5 Tips on Translating Educational Material

Stick to a style

Firstly, you have to decide if you want to keep the material formal or informal. Always take into consideration your target audience. Secondly, you have to transport the tone of the text. What’s more, you should make sure it doesn't get lost in the translation. Thirdly, keep the text as simple as possible and try to avoid jargon and complex terminology. Sometimes there are guidelines, glossaries and style guides of the company, which can help you a little bit.


Translating Educational Material

You always have to see the words in context of the whole

topic. As one word can have several meanings in different

languages, you always have to make sure that you translate

the correct meaning and not the literal. In addition to that, you had better research for resources thoroughly. Otherwise the result can be confusion, misunderstandings and a translation, which does not satisfy the customer and the target group.

Contact the client

Sometimes you read a text and you realise there is something strange. For instance a sentence doesn't make sense or parts of it are missing. To provide the client with the best possible translation, it is essential to let them know and ask them how they want to proceed. Do they want to keep the text as it is or do they want to change it? The same applies to clerical errors, words that are missing, etc. 

Localise non-verbal elements

Those non-verbal elements help the audience to understand and visualise ideas. For this reason, you have to adapt pictures or colours depending on the target group. White, for instance, is the colour of purity in many European countries. In China it represents death, which has a completely different meaning. Furthermore, you should adapt date, time, currencies or measures. This is important so the target group has an idea about the situation.

Localise the text 

Other than in technical texts, examples and references in educational material are often cultural. Otherwise, they might refer to a specific location, demography, group of people, etc. For that reason, it is crucial not only to translate those specifics, but also to adapt them to ensure that they make sense to the target group. 

For example, in English you talk about being “on cloud nine” when you are in love, but in German it is “cloud 7”. Moreover, it is crucial to keep translations relevant by being aware of taboos, sensitive topics, cultural norms, et cetera. 

The online education sector

The online education sector is an evolving area, with tremendous expected growth. In particular, it helps break down language barriers, makes learning more accessible and enables people to learn something new easily. The tips above are always good to keep in mind to provide a good translation. What's more, it is a great opportunity to learn something new about your own culture and others. 


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