Translating a WordPress LearnDash site (best practice Guide)
LearnDash is a fantastic WordPress learning management system (LMS) plugin for packaging your knowledge into online courses and monetizing your expertise. If you’re looking to reach a larger audience and more students, then why not translate your LearnDash website?
Apart from your current student base, there may be others interested in what you have to teach them. Provided they can understand the contents of your e-learning courses, that is. After all, not everyone speaks the same language as you.
While the LearnDash plugin provides translations for some languages out of the box, these translations may not be complete or tailored for your specific course content. You’d need to undertake a translation of your LearnDash website. We’ll cover how to do exactly that in this comprehensive guide to LearnDash translation. Read on as we share:
The benefits of translating a LearnDash website,
Some options for translating a LearnDash website (including the easiest way of doing so), and
Some best practices for effective LearnDash translation as you strive to grow your student cohort.
Why translate your LearnDash website?
When you first used LearnDash to build your online courses, you might have been satisfied with providing your courses in your native language. But as your courses become more popular, you may want to translate your LearnDash website to:
Make your courses accessible to more learners. This is especially if you want to expand your courses to reach learners abroad, as they may not speak your language. Alternatively, if you live in a country whose people typically speak two or more languages, translating your courses can also help you reach learners who are stronger in another language.
Increase brand awareness. When more students are able to take your courses, their awareness of your brand will grow. This is vital for expanding your student base as well as encouraging word-of-mouth promotion of your courses.
Improve the learning experience. Don’t let language be a barrier to learning. If students can take your courses in their preferred language, they’ll be able to focus on absorbing new concepts instead of struggling to comprehend what’s going on.
Boost sales of your courses! And here is the end result of all of the above: more students, more positive reviews and recommendations, more course sign-ups – and ultimately, more course revenue for you. Have we gotten you excited about the power of translation yet?
Which languages does LearnDash have native support for?
The LearnDash LMS provides translations for various languages, including right-to-left (RTL) ones, out of the box. These languages include:
These translations were donated by LearnDash users, so they may not be 100% complete or ideal for your specific use case. You may also want to translate your course into a language for which LearnDash doesn’t currently have native support.
Don’t worry if you fall into either situation. You’ll be able to add translations for new languages, and/or modify existing translations, for your LearnDash website. More on this in the next section!
How to translate your LearnDash website
Now, let’s take a look at how to properly translate your LearnDash website. We’ll go through two ways of doing so:
Manual translation through editing the translations .po file
Using Weglot to translate your LearnDash website
Manual translation through editing the translations .po file
1. Download your POT and .po files
To manually translate your LearnDash website, go to LearnDash LMS > Settings > Translations in your WordPress backend. Download the latest POT file, which is the file that contains your original, untranslated text (and the most up-to-date versions of these).
If you are translating your course to a language for which LearnDash has native support (see the list above), install that language in LearnDash first. After that, download the .po file for that language. The .po file is the file where your actual translations will go. You’ll need it along with the POT file you downloaded earlier.
If you are adding an entirely new language to LearnDash, then download LearnDash’s .po file for any language. You will need to replace any existing translations in that .po file with new ones for your intended language. You will also need to rename the .po file to follow the WordPress Locale Code conventions, such as “ja” for Japanese and “tr_TR” for Turkish. View the full list of WordPress Local Code conventions here.
2. Manually edit the translations in your .po file
Download a translation editor software such as Poedit and open your .po file in it. Update your .po file with the POT file to ensure that your .po file contains all the latest text before you start translating. In Poedit, for example, you’d do this by clicking Catalog > Update from POT and selecting your POT file.
With that out of the way, you can start translating your .po file! If you’re on a limited budget, you can use a free translation tool like Google Translate to translate one line of text, then copy/paste the translation into your .po file. Rinse and repeat until you’ve translated your entire LearnDash course.
3. Upload your modified translation files and activate your new translations
Once you’re happy with your translations, save your .po file. Then use your translation editor software to generate a new .mo file. This file contains the contents of your .po file, but it’s compiled in a machine-readable format to help your website display your translations.
Next, upload both your new .po and .mo files to the /wp-content/languages/plugins/ folder of your website. You can access this folder by using an FTP client.
Afterward, go to your WordPress dashboard and install your new language into LearnDash (if it hasn’t already been installed). Finally, select Settings > General from the WordPress sidebar and change your website’s language to your new language. You’re done!
Limitations of manually translating your LearnDash website
As you scan the above steps for doing a manual LearnDash translation, they may seem rather intimidating to execute if you aren’t technically minded. You’ll need to be familiar with .po, .mo, and POT files, manipulating these in a translation editor software, as well as FTP to complete a manual translation. Consider if you are up to the task.
Apart from that, a manual translation also has these drawbacks:
You’ll have to translate all your text manually. Doing a manual translation can be time-consuming if you have a lot of course content to translate. It also introduces significant room for human error. While you can avoid doing the heavy lifting yourself by outsourcing the work to professional translators, their services are typically expensive.
Media translation isn’t possible. The method of translating a LearnDash website described above is good for translating your course text, but it doesn’t cover the translation of non-text content such as images and videos. If you leave these media untranslated in your otherwise translated course, it could detract from the user experience.
Your website won’t be optimized for multilingual search engine optimization (SEO). You’d need to do the relevant tasks, such as implementing hreflang tags, on your own afterward. This could be a challenge if you’re unfamiliar with the steps and technicalities involved in the process.
Use Weglot to translate your LearnDash website
If the manual translation method isn’t your cup of tea, Weglot presents the perfect alternative.
Weglot is a complete no-code solution for website translation and localization. It uses a proprietary mix of advanced machine-learning translations to translate text into over 110 supported languages. With Weglot generating the translations almost instantly, website owners can make their websites multilingual within minutes. WordPress is one of the website platforms that Weglot integrates seamlessly with. This means that you’ll be able to use Weglot to translate the LearnDash course content in your WordPress website.
Your translations will be stored in a centralized cloud dashboard for efficient management from any location and device. You’ll also be able to invite your team members to review and fine-tune your translations before using them. Alternatively, if you’d like a professional translation of key portions of text, you can order translations from Weglot’s partner agencies right from the Weglot dashboard.
Apart from assisting with translation, Weglot also contains other functionality for enhancing a translated website. These include media translation for displaying translated images and videos, as well as the automatic implementation of hreflang tags for multilingual SEO purposes.
It’s free to start using Weglot! Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to translate various components of your LearnDash website:
Next, log into your WordPress site and navigate to the WordPress plugins page. Install the Weglot plugin on your website, then activate it.
Click the new Weglot option in the left sidebar of your WordPress dashboard to be directed to a configuration page:
On this screen, configure:
Your Weglot API key (you can grab it from your Weglot account)
The original language of your website
The destination language(s) that your website should be translated to
Save your changes, and Weglot will automatically translate your website text – including your LearnDash lessons, quizzes, assignments, and so on. Weglot will also add a language switcher for website visitors to easily change your website’s language. (More on customizing the language switcher shortly!)
To edit Weglot’s translations, log into your Weglot account and click the “Translations” tab for your website translation project, followed by “Languages.”
Select the language whose translations you’d like to review, and you’ll be able to edit your translations as you see fit.
You can also preview your translations in Weglot’s visual editor to check out how they will appear on your LearnDash website. This is handy for previewing and tweaking your adjusted translations before you roll them out.
Translating your LearnDash website media
With the bulk of the translation work taken care of, you can turn your attention to translating your LearnDash images, videos, PDF files, and other course media.
In your Weglot dashboard, navigate to your text translations for a particular language.
At the bottom of the list of translations, you’ll find an option called “Add a media translation.” Click it and a pop-up will appear, allowing you to fill out your media file’s original URL and the URL for its translated equivalent.
Complete this process until you have added translations for all your LearnDash course media.
You can also provide media translations via Weglot’s visual editor. In the live preview of your website, click a particular media, and you’ll be able to provide a URL for its translated equivalent.
After you’ve translated all your LearnDash course content, finish up by customizing your Weglot language switcher. Your students will use this language switcher to toggle your website to their preferred language.
From the Weglot dashboard, click the “Settings” tab for your translation project. Next, click “Language Switcher.”
You can then adjust various language switcher settings, such as:
How language names should be displayed
Whether you want to display a flag next to each language
The order of the languages in the language switcher
You can also add your own CSS to customize your language switcher to a greater degree.
Don’t forget to save your changes once you’re happy with them!
Advantages of using Weglot to translate your LearnDash website
The process of translating a LearnDash website using Weglot is much simpler than a manual translation. As seen from our tutorial above, you’ll be able to install Weglot into your LearnDash website with just a couple of clicks and zero lines of code. Subsequently, translation is an instantaneous process after you’ve set your source and destination languages.
And by using Weglot to translate your LearnDash website, you can also benefit from:
More affordable translation. With Weglot, you get a first layer of machine translation from leading machine translation providers DeepL, Yandex, Microsoft, and Google Translate, which helps you keep the costs of translating your LearnDash website down. Even if you hire an external agency for professional translations of certain sections of your website and have Weglot translate the rest, this approach would cost you a lot less than hiring the agency to translate your entire website.
Managing your translations in one central dashboard. There’s no need to jump back and forth between your Weglot account and LearnDash website to manage your translations. You’ll be able to review and refine them from your Weglot dashboard. Weglot’s visual editor also lets you preview your translations on your LearnDash website without leaving the Weglot dashboard.
Powerful media translation. Use Weglot to specify alternative URLs for translated course media. This lets your students enjoy a seamless user experience without wondering why your images and videos are in one language but your course text is in another.
Convenient toggling between languages. The Weglot language switcher makes it easy for you – and your students – to view your website in different languages. You can also customize the language switcher to match your website design and brand.
Multilingual SEO. We didn’t touch on this very much in the tutorial because Weglot automatically handles this for you. From the creation of website language subdirectories to the implementation of hreflang tags, Weglot will optimize your website for multilingual searches and help you draw in website traffic from abroad.
Get inspired by these Weglot-translated LearnDash websites
Over 60,000 websites all over the world use Weglot for their translation needs. Let’s examine two such websites that offer course content via the LearnDash plugin:
Managed by The Challenge Initiative (TCI), TCI University aims to train individuals working in local governments on implementing high-impact urban family planning, as well as adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health interventions. The course platform offers not just in-person and virtual coaching, but also toolkits to help course attendees implement what they’ve learned on the ground.
At the moment, the TCI University website is available in four languages: English, French, Hindi, and Urdu. Visitors can change the website’s language using a language switcher integrated into the top right of TCI University’s website header.
One point also worth noting is that TCI has taken steps to adapt the design of the TCI University website to accommodate its supported languages. When you visit the Urdu version of TCI University, you’ll see that its text is presented in right-to-left format, which is in line with how Urdu is read from right to left.
Bloop Animation is a course platform containing courses for anyone interested in getting into 2D and 3D animation. Founded by animation filmmaker Morr, Bloop Animation offers courses in storyboarding, stick figure animation, stop-motion, and more. Students can also sign up to learn how to use various animation software such as Blender, Maya, and After Effects. The platform boasts over 25,000 students and counting.
The main Bloop Animation website is displayed in English. However, the website is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Simplified Chinese. The language switcher is situated next to the Bloop Animation logo on the header menu.
For multilingual SEO purposes, the different language versions of Bloop Animation’s website are stored in various website subdirectories. For example, the URL for the Spanish version of Bloop Animation’s homepage is “https://www.bloopanimation.com/es/,” while the URL for its Simplified Chinese counterpart is “https://www.bloopanimation.com/zh/.” Such categorization helps search engines better index and serve the Spanish and Simplified Chinese versions of Bloop Animation’s web pages to searchers looking for results in these languages.
Best practices for translating your LearnDash website
Before we wrap up, let’s cover some best practices for fostering a fantastic multilingual LearnDash course experience:
Check whether your LearnDash website theme is translation-ready
Not all LearnDash website themes are created equal. Some may have been built for better compatibility with translated content than others. A translation-ready LearnDash website theme will include features such as:
The inclusion of .po and .mo files: You’ll need your .po and .mo files if you’ll be translating your LearnDash website via the manual route (see above). Check if they have been bundled together with the other files comprising your website theme.
Support for RTL languages: If you’ll be translating your LearnDash website into RTL languages, then your theme should be able to display text in such languages with no issues.
Flexible website design customization: You may need to modify certain web page layouts or templates, or adjust your text containers, for optimal display of your translated content. A translation-ready website theme may come with a page builder and/or comprehensive customization settings to facilitate such design work.
Contact your website theme developer if you aren’t sure if your LearnDash website theme is translation-ready. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a new translation-ready LearnDash website theme, some popular options include Astra, eLumine, and BuddyX.
Preview your translations before using them
We’ve already touched on this above, but it bears reiterating that you should preview your translations before using them. At the very least, previewing your translations can help you spot and correct typos. Apart from that, you’ll be able to check if your current website theme can accommodate your translations.
We’ve seen instances of buttons becoming overly long, and jutting out of their allocated positions, as their text expanded after translation. We’ve also seen decently long blog posts appear much shorter because the destination language was able to convey the same information using less space.
When you preview your translations (especially through Weglot’s visual editor), you can determine if you need to make associated changes to your website design, copy, and so on to maintain an appealing look for your LearnDash website.
Don’t just translate your content – localize it as well
It can be tempting to give yourself a pat on the back and call things a day after undertaking a translation project. But to fully adapt your courses to meet the needs of a local market, consider localizing your course content as well. Localization can involve:
Inserting culture-specific references that students in a particular market will be able to understand and relate to. For example, if you are localizing your cooking course for the Korean market, then you could look into adding Korean recipes to your course. Alternatively, if you’re launching a bird-watching course for the Spanish market, then you could update your course to discuss various bird species that can be found in Spain.
Converting units of measurement discussed in your content. For instance, if your students are based in the United Kingdom, they may not immediately understand how long 5 miles is, following the Imperial system of units. To help with their learning, you could convert such distances into kilometers as per the metric system instead.
Displaying your course fees in your website visitors’ native currency. Save your potential students the hassle of reaching for their calculators. By telling them exactly how much your course will cost them in their native currency, you reduce the friction involved in making a purchase decision, which can in turn boost conversions.
Translate your LearnDash website with Weglot today
While the LearnDash LMS plugin turns your WordPress website into a powerful course platform, its user-provided translations may not be sufficient for making your online courses multilingual. To reach new students who speak different languages, ramp up course registrations, and increase your course revenue, you’d need to do a separate translation of your LearnDash website.
Manually translating your LearnDash website is one possibility here. However, this method can be more technically demanding and time-consuming. As a busy course creator, you may not want to get bogged down by this more technically tricky and tedious endeavor.
The more attractive solution is to use Weglot, which translates text instantly and with a high degree of accuracy. Weglot is easy to set up, easy to use and built for effortless team collaboration. Weglot also contains essential functionality for translating your course media and helping to surface your LearnDash website in multilingual search results.