E-learning Subtitles VS. Voice-Overs


E-learning courses provide an opportunity to reach new students and train employees abroad. But, what is the best way to resonate with an international audience? There are two main options for translating e-learning video content: voice-over services and video subtitling services.

Key differences between voice-overs and subtitles

Before Covid-19, digital learning was a useful tool for distance education. Today, however, e-learning has become a true necessity for group training. As technology advances, translating content for international audiences has never been easier. E-learning videos with speech can either be subtitled or re-recorded, depending on what your project needs.

Voice-over services

Voice-over services are offered by professional linguistic companies who follow QA processes to ensure your e-learning content is of the highest standards. Expert linguists are able to work with files in almost any format, translating speech accurately into a new language. The translation is used as a script by a voice-over artist who is a native speaker of the target language.

The voice-over is then recorded, focusing on meaning, tone, and pronunciation of technical vocabulary. Video timings are taken into account throughout the process so that all new audio is synced with visual cues.

Video subtitling services

During subtitling, a video’s audio remains untouched. Subtitling is usually quicker than creating voice-overs, however, it can be a complex task. Professional translation teams may work directly from the video, with transcriptions, or with source-language captions to create new subtitles.

The new subtitles are then matched up to the video’s audio and displayed in readable chunks. Specialist software enables subtitlers to work both quickly and accurately, producing high-quality work.

Pros and cons of voice-over services

   ✔ Engaging for the viewer

   ✔ E-learning content is presented exactly as intended (no loss of audio)

   ✔ The screen is unencumbered by extra text

   ✘ Can cost more than subtitles

   ✘ Voices won’t always match on-screen speakers’ mouth movements and gestures

Pros and cons of subtitles 

   ✔ Quick and cost-effective

   ✔ Increases the accessibility of videos

   ✔ Provides two languages at once for multilingual learners

   ✘ Not always suitable for mobile e-learning (small text size)

   ✘ Can distract from on-screen text

   ✘ Learners not given an immersive experience

Making a decision: what does your project need?

It is a good idea to plan e-learning content with translation in mind. This way, you can define the scope of the project, as well as its needs, from the start. It is a good idea to keep your budget in mind at all times.

Additionally, you will need an understanding of your target audience. Citizens of some countries are used to hearing dubbing and voice-overs. This means they will not be phased by seeing speakers whose words don’t match their movements. In other countries, such as the UK, voice-overs are not commonplace and so subtitles may be a better option for audiences in these areas.

Sometimes, educational videos don’t resonate with international audiences as expected. This is due to cultural differences and meanings that don’t translate directly. Localization is the process of adapting content to be culturally and linguistically suitable for a new geographic area. Creating voice-overs and subtitles provides an opportunity to localize content in this way. Working with an e-learning localization service will help your digital content to resonate with your audience, wherever they are.

How Future Trans can help

At Future Trans, we have been helping companies expand into Africa and the Middle East for over 25 years. Together, we can make the perfect decision for your e-learning content, based on our industry experience and knowledge. Our specialist linguists can provide you with a range of flexible solutions and options according to the budget and scope of your project.

Let us know more about your e-learning project today.

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