Translation

eLearning Opportunities in the Languages Industry

Languages Industry

As the new generation of millennials comes of age and enters the workplace, we have a brand new technology-savvy generation joining us who are used to doing everything at speed. Unlike their predecessors, this is the first generation to have grown up with smartphones and tablets from the very beginning and to have used them at school. ELearning is not a new concept that needs to be sold to them as it has been in the past, it is what they are expecting. They expect to be able to learn 24/7 and for their learning to be accessible anywhere, from a wide range of portable devices. While elearning has come a long way in the last couple of decades, it is probably still going to fall a long way short of what this new generation are looking for. So what kind of things do they want to see?

  • Access anywhere, at any time, from as broad a range of devices as possible. Most critically, any e-learning needs to be accessible using an app that can be downloaded via iTunes and Google Play.
  • Fun – There is a tendency towards the ‘gamification’ of education with ever more educational apps using games to teach subject matter. This should be relatively easy for languages, which are after all fundamentally about the interactions between people.
  • Reporting – Users expect to be able to see their progress and what modules they have completed as well as what is outstanding. Managers will want to be able to run reports on their teams to check who has completed what or to compare progress. It can also be useful at Appraisal time to see what employees have been working on.

The potential of eLearning within the languages industry is clear from the huge presence of some large companies such as Babbel and Rosetta Stone. It is clear that the general public does not see eLearning as an obstacle to learning a language in the first instance. So the question becomes how can that capability be harnessed to keep language industry skills fresh for example? Keeping the content of learning courses fresh has long been a problem for the learning and development industry and it certainly isn’t restricted to the eLearning sphere. One of the most practical ways to overcome this is to set a review schedule, e.g., biannual, and stick to it. It may well be that nothing is changed, but at least that way you can be sure that all the content is looked at every couple of years.

The most obvious potential for eLearning in the languages industry is the huge scope of the eLearning industry itself. In 2016, 77% of American companies used eLearning, many of these were international companies*. Obviously, this opens up a huge opportunity for translation and interpretation work for the languages industry, but they will need to be technology savvy in order to accommodate it. To prove that they have this kind of capability, the most natural solution would be to ensure that a Language Service Provider has a well-developed eLearning system internally that they can use to demonstrate their understanding. There may also be a requirement for skillsets not typically used within language companies, such as voice actors. Each individual company then needs to decide what is right for them – whether they broaden the sphere that they operate within in order to bid for all the work or only bid for a section of it.

*Gallup, 2016.

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