Localization of eLearning: Voiceover vs. Subtitles

November 27, 2012 by Acclaro
Category: Training & eLearning, Multimedia, Localization
voiceover translation

An audio component is essential for most eLearning materials, such as Adobe Presenter, Articulate, Captivate, Lectora, and even Camtasia. When localizing your on-screen content, remember to include the spoken portions as well. Depending on your budget and quality expectations, you can either re-record the audio in your target language (voiceover), or look into options for subtitling. There are pros and cons to both. Performing a voiceover is typically more expensive but guarantees a more customized and polished experience. Subtitling, while cheaper to produce, is effective but may mean that subtitles could interfere with onscreen course content. Here are three tips for figuring out which option is right for you:

1. Looking at your look and feel: If you worked with a studio for your English course material, consider putting the same level of effort into your localized versions. A finely-produced course with a bad voiceover may distract your users or leave a negative impression. If professional linguists are outside of your budget, there are a number of freelance voiceover artists who can do a good job. While they might not have all of the bells and whistles of a studio, they should have the basics to get the job done well.

2. Timing is everything: Subtitling eLearning materials is the easier way to go, since the subtitles will match up with the running dialogue as the course progresses. Most subtitles are limited to 32 characters per line, and 2 lines on the screen at any given time. Many languages expand in translation, so you might find yourself with a bit of a real estate challenge. To get around that, you can:

  • Cycle the translated text through at a faster speed,
  • Edit the translations down to run in sync with the English, or
  • Slow down the pace of the course to fit it all in.

Similarly, if you choose to go the voiceover route, you may have more words to fit in to the audio script. That could mean the voiceover is spoken at a rapid pace, and syncing it up with onscreen text, if needed, is more difficult.

3. One size might not fit all: If you are looking to localize your eLearning course into Spanish, French, or Portuguese, be aware that the European variants of these languages can be very different from those in other regions, like Latin America, Canada, or Brazil, so you may need to have a couple of different language translation versions in order to be most effective. Similarly, Chinese for Hong Kong and Taiwan is written with different characters (Traditional Chinese) from other regions, like mainland China and Singapore (Simplified Chinese)…and the spoken Chinese dialects are numerous. If your eLearning will be used for Chinese speakers here in the U.S., make sure your users will be able to understand the spoken or written text.

For more info, look at our Top 10 Tips for preparing multimedia for localization, or how we helped Tiffany & Co. with localization of their eLearning course content.

Photo attribution: Profound Whatever

Subscribe to this blog

RSS feed

About this blog

Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


software cost tips technology & localization industry language entertainment southeast asia arabic website marketing mobile acclaro languages of the world acclaro localization and translation services acclaro world language map world language map arts sports & culture europe eastern europe africa french international business north america latin america middle east swedish asia german chinese documents case study localization retail quality transcreation spanish south america italian english ecard networking portuguese romance languages japanese staffing technology machine translation cost savings acclaro games language apps elearning localization multimedia translation multimedia localization elearning translation training translation ecommerce localization bitcoin cryptocurrency global ecommerce bitcoin regulation bitcoin exchanges china chinese translation chinese localization beijing localization cantonese and mandarin translations translation for business in china business translation in chinese top retail markets in the world new retail openings retail markets acclaro black friday cyber monday cyber week cyber monday woche single’s day bachelor’s day holiday shopping online borderfree doorbuster sales global holiday ecommerce healthcare initiative spanish healthcare cuidadodesalud.gov mt case study mobile apps mobile app translation app store optimization aso mobile app thai translation ecommerce in asia valentine’s day valentines in japan valentines in south korea chinese valentine’s day singles day translation project fitbit visualiq gibson mardi gras food localization globalization consulting localization staffing localization recruiting startups global scalability international ecommerce international payment international order fulfillment global online shopping acclaro april fool’s stories usaapril fool’s stories germany april fool’s stories ecommerce ecommerce design wine translation marketing translation english remains the dominant language in the united states but almost one in five americans speaks a language other than english at home. are you missing out on customers who are more comfortable doing business in languages other than english? read on to learn how your company can profit from translation within the united states. translation myths translation mistakes international translation misconceptions translation errors translation process translating startups marketing translations translation marketing international social media qa quality assurance quality translations global apps app localization app translation app store translation global startups international app launch press release translation international press release global pr global press release press release localization kontax translate news international marketing video localization video translation video translation agency brazil brazilian portuguese english-to-portuguese translation boston translation services boston web translation boston translation agency global branding international branding global brand evaluation lithuanian translation lithuanian language translation adapt to lithuanian translators translation ecommerce in india business travel business travel apps international banking financial services translation marketing transcreation international copywriting website translation website localization japanese translation english-to-japanese translation japanese translation services translation solutions web localization mobile app localization iphone 6 glocal global brands translation services translation agency translation partner global content marketing localization world business case for translation