As organizations grow and enter the global market, computer translation of various content and marketing material becomes more critical to their success. A few years ago getting your content into the languages of your prospects was somewhat difficult and expensive. There were a limited number of ways to do that, and only a few vendors or software providers could provide the service. In addition, the accuracy of freelance translation specialists could be a source of concern if you were not able to read the language in the finished product.

As eLearning has matured it has adopted more technology to support learning—especially video—and more immersive formats. Along with the move to international markets, the number of providers who can respond to the demand for affordable translation has grown. In addition to human translators, an increasing number of software translation platforms are available to do the work. The number of providers who can deliver hybrid solutions is also increasing, and artificial intelligence has also emerged as a new resource.

Translation is not enough

Naturally, translation alone will not be enough to support the expansion of eLearning. Translation of text to carry an organization’s message and training content to new countries, cultures, and experiences requires localization.

Without localization, prospective buyers and business partners will not be able to understand the message. If the message uses imperial measures (pounds and gallons) instead of metric (grams and liters), proper currencies (lira instead of dollars), and the right format for dates (date/month/year instead of month/day/year), the problem is more than the difference. It may damage the credibility of the message or confuse the reader.

Within a language, there may be other incongruencies that only a native speaker will note. Anyone who has traveled to a country where the spoken language is Spanish or French (or any other language) will have experienced this. When the traveler uses their high school Spanish or French, they may be baffled to learn that nobody understands them. This is another reason to look for a translation resource (human or software) that can understand the Spanish or French usage needed in a document or email, and localize the reply.

Software to the rescue!

There are many software applications that understand these problems. Some software is even written to handle “getting the language right” in exchanges involving specialized usages such as customer service, healthcare, eCommerce, and many other contexts.

Of the various software review search engines online, there are at least two that pay particular attention to translation and localization. For both, keep in mind a couple of points. The first is that you should pay attention to the review comments. You really must read between the lines. This is more true in this context than it is in other software reviews. The second tip is to remember that some of the reviews are written for more casual needs. Those products are usually automated translators. They produce satisfactory results, sufficient for most communication. You will need other translation software for more complex products, or for a “blended” approach where a human will need to clean up the computer translation.

Software review sites: translation and localization

Capterra: After you open the link, scroll down the page to find a more comprehensive listing of translation and localization software. Read the actual reviews carefully. Some of them are a bit nuanced.

TrustRadius: TrustRadius does not have a separate section for localization—the translation reviews include comments that tell whether individual products cover localization. I also recommend reading the article at the very end of the reviews on computer-assisted software. It’s titled “Learn More About Computer-Assisted Translation Software 2023.”