How to deliver an online course in two languages

Posted by scooletz on August 17, 2020 · 4 mins read

How much harder is to deliver an online course in two languages than in one only? Is it worth to do it? What about costs and the amount of work one needs to do it? In this post I’ll describe my point of view on these aspects. It’s based on delivering the Async Expert online course under Dotnetos winds and covers a broad topic of asynchronous programming in dotnet.

Why

Let’s start with the reasoning why should one even consider delivering their course in two languages. In case of Async Expert it’s important to mention that all the authors are Poles. Additionally, Dotnetos brand was started in Poland, as a natural follow up of our personal brands. After two years of activity we could tell that we’re recognizable as a part of dotnet community ecosystem. Still there were a few things to consider.

The first thing was some anecdotal evidence that we had. The course could be perceived better by Polish attendees if was delivered in Polish. Simply as that.

Another aspect was related to pricing. Polish market uses PLN, not Euros or Dollars. The prices are simply lower in Poland. At the same time, we didn’t have any fancy discount policy based on a country an attendee comes from. Actually, discounts policies, pricing, especially related to a location are a topic for a separate blog post.

The last but not least, was about a kind of a fairness? This was our first online product, something that was based on the trust that people put in us. Again, we knew that we were able to organize on-site events and a conference. We knew that we would deliver the course. We knew that we wanted to do it in English. But giving something more when doing it the first time, was the real thing.

Amount of work

In case of IT and programming, creating a bilingual course is much easier. There are things that you can do in English for both versions. In some cases, it’s eve n expected! I can’t imagine people wanting to read a codebase that is written in Polish. A similar rule can be applied to slides. In the majority, they were filled with either with English based names or were using phrases that one should know in English to navigate and search for them if needed. Having this said, the code for all exercises as well as slides were written once, in English.

The recording part was much more demanding and time consuming. I recall, that initially my thinking was that once I have materials recorded in Polish, I’ll be able to record English version much faster. Unfortunately, the amount of work was probably around ~1.5x. Even after going through the slides once, doing it in my native language, doing it in English was a different story. Let’s consider names used in the slides. When describing them in Polish, they were translated. Now, they required no translation at all.

Overall response and questions

The response to this approach was positive. Attendees find their versions and acquired the course. There were a few cases, where people did the math and asked about different pricing in both directions. For example there was a Polish person wanting to obtain an English version of the course for the Polish price. A similar case was raised by a native English speaker, why the English version costs more. These questions weren’t frequent though and I think we did good job when navigating people between versions and delivering answers to their questions.

Was it worth it

Did it take more to deliver it in a bilingual form? Yes.

Did it cost us more time to show it, advertise it properly, etc.? Yes.

Still, I think it was worth it! The first online product, provided in two versions, taking into consideration a group of people that help in making this happen. And by this I don’t mean the course itself, but the fact that Dotnetos are here.


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