The Language Editor – Ironing out the wrinkles.

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The Language Editor – The Perfectionist

Most eLearning organizations employ full-time language editors whose job is to ensure that the language used in a course remains grammatically correct, culturally appropriate, and that it follows the language standards prescribed by the client.

Why We need Editors?

Most Indians study English as a second language. Our mother tongue, which is usually the regional language of the area that we come from, is what we use in our every day communication. However, most of our official communication is done in English. This means that while the content developers are fairly proficient in the use of English and can write reasonably well, their language has traces of what has come to be known as Indianisms. Since we develop a lot of content for American and British clients, it’s important that before the content is developed into an eLearning course and delivered to the client, these Indianisms are removed and the content is checked for other Grammar/language usage issues.

I believe that an editor’s selection should be based on the following parameters.

  1. Experience in editing content, and the language focus ( for instance, American English vs. British English)
  2. Attention to Detail (and hence the capability to also detect typos and other such slips.)
  3. Ability to correct the language without changing the flow of the content and its meaning.
  4. Knowledge of the way language is written and spoken by the audience of the content.
  5. Mentoring Attitude (quite like the ID Reviewer, an editor too should have the willingness to provide constructive criticism and guidance to the instructional designer whose work she reviews.)

What should an editor correct?

Following are the essential focus areas for any language editor.

  • Grammar
  • Spelling (American vs. British)
  • Writing Style (includes sentence construction, flow of language, use of similes and metaphors etc.)
  • Conformance to the language standard prescribed by the client (for example, many clients prescribe the Chicago Manual of Style as the standard to be adhered to for language.)
  • Cultural nuances (idioms, sayings, popular phrases etc.)

Thus, while an instructional designer/content writer’s primary focus is on instructional effectiveness, the editor’s focus is on the language. In other words, while the Instructional Designer’s job is to mine the diamonds, the editor is the one who polishes them 🙂