Here is the smiling emoji – ‘ : ) ‘. The unmistakable symbol of a happy face.
But why do we never use it like this – ‘ ( : ‘ ?
It’s still a smiling face, but somehow, it seems wrong and unsettling right?
There’s a simple explanation – as English readers we read everything, including emoticons, from left to right.
But for an Arabic reader everything is written from right to left, including their smiley faces.
Emoticons aside, the point is, the process of LearnDash translation isn’t limited to just translating your text. If the aim is to create a good learning experience, it requires a little more effort.
When it comes to education the goal is always to make things as easily understandable as possible. And this shouldn’t get lost in translation. (excuse the pun)
So, here are a few things to go over when you are translating LearnDash courses into another language.
Tip 1: Pick the right translation tools
The LearnDash translation process is long and requires a lot of pre-planning. But, you can certainly make things easier by starting off with the correct tools on hand:
Translating the LearnDash Plugin:
The LearnDash plugin is translatable. LearnDash translation can be achieved by translating the plugin Strings into the language of your choosing. Now, you could use the translations available on LearnDash. However, these are user-contributed, and so they might not be 100% accurate and in line with what you need. So one alternative is to create your own translation .po and .mo files replacing the strings. Alternatively, the easiest way to do this is to get a translation plugin.
Here are a couple of good options to explore:
LocoTranslate: A free WordPress translation plugin that comes with a built-in translation editor. It extracts translatable strings from the plugin and allows you to use the editor to directly edit source text. As you do so, language files are created and uploaded directly to the plugin. This makes it very convenient.
WPML: This is a popular name when it comes to WordPress translation plugin. While WPML is compatible with LearnDash, it only supports manual translations. But, the notable thing with WPML is that it makes the process of translation a little more seamless and easier to keep track of.
With String Translation you can translate LearnDash Strings and LearnDash Pages. It also comes with a handy Editor. In addition to that, it helps you translate your course content and conveniently allows you to duplicate all your content before you translate it.
However, it does only have a premium version. If you don’t mind shelling out a few bucks, this could be a really good translation plugin to work with.
Get a translation-ready theme:
The theme you use for LearnDash LMS needs to be ‘translation- ready’ too. What this essentially means is the theme display text should be translatable into another language, using a translation plugin or otherwise. Here are two LearnDash themes that can work for you:
- eLumine: Comes with clean, learner-friendly layouts that improve readability and make your courses easy to follow, making this theme ideal for your LearnDash website. It can be set up speedily with one-click launch demos and is highly customizable so you can personalize it. It also looks great on mobile devices. In addition to that, it is fully translation-ready and works perfectly with Loco Translate. It also supports RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew.
- Astra: In addition to being translation-ready, Astra helps you customize LearnDash to create crowd-pleasing designs. It presents your courses in a way that helps students learn better. You can also revamp your checkout page with Astra. Color and fonts are completely customizable and its clean user-interface helps you offer a great learning experience.
Translating your course material
Translating course material for your LearnDash courses is one area that requires a little more knowledge than other areas. Here it is important to make sure that your courses retain their ease of understanding when translated. So needless to say, Google Translate isn’t up to the task.
If you’re not translating into your native language it is always advisable to hire/consult someone who speaks that language. You can make the process more efficient by using tools like Translation Memory which speed up the process by creating a database of the already translated text. We’ll talk a little more about translating content in the next section.
Tip 2: Update your course content for local audience
It is important that your course content resonates with your target learners. After all, we want to ensure that your course material is explained in the most understandable way possible. So, as you move forward with translating your LearnDash course, also keep in mind tweaks you might need to make to the content itself.
The first and the most obvious thing to do is to make sure it’s factually accurate. Say, if your course is an employee training module that educates them about workplace laws and regulations, it should reflect the laws of the country it’s being viewed in.
If you plan to translate your course down the line, it is wise to keep your content ‘neutral’. Making it relatable to a wide audience with different sentiments.
Another thing to look out for is the examples you use. Examples are a great way to simply get your point across. But if the learner can’t relate to them, it defeats the purpose. Avoid referencing things that are specific to only one region. Alternatively, change examples to be more local.
Tip 3: Tweak design elements like spacing, fonts, and colors
Presentation is an equally important part of an LMS. Readability is one parameter that is high up on the ‘need to get right’ scale. The font you pick out should be easy on the eyes and conducive to learning.
But the same font that is readable and perfect for your course in English might not be ideal for another language, especially if it’s a unique font that’s not really common. Be sure to test if your translated text is clearly readable in your chosen font.
The same goes for spacing. Some languages take up more space for the same amount of content. Keep ample spacing to accommodate this difference.
Another thing to keep in mind is commonly used formats for date, time, and measurements. For example, Americans use imperial measurements instead of metric units, whereas date format can be either dd/mm/yy or yy/mm/dd or mm/dd/yy depending on the country.
Colors and symbols also fall under this same scrutiny. Different colors and symbols signify different things in different cultures. Be sure to make changes accordingly.
Tip 4: Switch website layout for RTL language
Right-to-left languages like Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew pose unique challenges with translation. Unlike the majority of languages, these are written from right to left. Not just that, a person who reads in RTL languages is used to the flow of everything going from right to left. Including placement of logos, buttons, navigation menu, numbers, etc.
This means that translating your LearnDash course into an RTL language involves creating a completely different layout for your website. It needs to be a mirrored layout that is a flipped version of your original layout and reads from right to left.
The best way to do so is to use a LearnDash theme that comes with RTL-support. This means that when your website is translated, the layout changes accordingly. eLumine is a good LearnDash theme that supports RTL languages. There are also other themes you can look into. Do make sure to check that they are good for LearnDash and translation ready with RTL support.
Tip 5: Use visuals that work even when the course is translated
Visuals, graphics, and diagrams are a big part of teaching. They help you represent things easily in a proper manner. When you intend to translate your course into another language it is important that you remember to keep all your visuals neutral.
Avoid using text on images, unless you intend to create different images with translated text. Don’t use images that contain regional references or hurt local sentiments.
If you’re using video as a part of your curriculum, create them using e-learning authoring tools that allow you to create them in different languages simultaneously.
The Road Ahead
We hope these tips were a nudge in the right direction. If you have more to add or any questions, please do leave us a comment!