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6 Ways to Knockout the Challenges in E-learning Localization

As a training manager in a multinational organization, are you finding it challenging to deliver the same quality training to your workforce spread across the globe? Want to provide localized training for sales teams in order to better position your products and services in extended markets? You’ve got to rely on the translation and localization of training. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The process has its own complexities. But, take heart, there’s a way out. Read on.

1. Keep Region-specific Changes in Mind

While localizing your e-learning course, keeping tabs on region-specific changes is a challenge. For example, while localizing your compliance training, there will be region-specific laws, which differ from one region to the other in the same nation. And training employees on the laws specific to their region is mandatory.

Solution: You can overcome region-specific issues by designing the English course keeping these changes in view. Prior planning can solve the issue. Put aside space for specific content and save the repeated elements in a common repository to replace during localization; this will cut short much of the process.

2. Avoid Confusing Vocabulary

Native English speakers using some terms informally can be misunderstood by employees or learners who are not proficient in English.

For example, ‘onboarding’ in modern English refers to imparting the necessary knowledge and skills to new employees. Some employees or people not proficient in English may misunderstand this as ‘boarding a bus or train’.

 Some words in English are commonly misused due to confusion or various other reasons. For example: ‘a lot and allot’, ‘accept and except’, ‘desert and dessert’ and many more.

Not only that, industry-specific and subject matter related terms may have meanings when used out of context.

Solution: Use simple and commonly known words in the source course. This helps avoid confusion. Simplifying industry-specific jargon as much as possible can reduce the risk of rework and the wastage of resources and time.

3. Make the Course Culturally Appropriate

Sometimes mere translation isn’t enough. Employees expect the e-learning or online training to be culturally appropriate with appealing colors, symbols, and more. So, localization considers more complex elements apart from language translation, such as culture, pictures, clothing, currency, symbols, and other things. Most importantly, it considers native culture.

Solution: You can overcome cultural issues customizing the aspects discussed above. This can be done by changing the date and currency formats, images, colors, and symbols as per the target culture.

For example, OK means ‘okay’ in the US;however, it’s an offensive gesture in Germany, Brazil, Russia, and some other countries.

Similarly, let’s take the ‘Thumbs-up’ sign – it means well done and denotes agreement in western culture, but considered very insulting in the Middle East.

When it comes to currency, converting it to that particular nation’s currency is the best way to localize. For example, when you localize an English course for Chinese employees, you need to convert the currency to Yen from US dollars. If you are localizing it for Swiss employees, convert dollars to Swiss Francs.

Colors also convey entirely different meanings in various cultures. For example, Blue represents security, peace and has a positive connotation in Europe and the US. However, it signifies evil, sadness, and loneliness in Turkey, Greece, Afghanistan and some other countries.

So, checking the meaning of pictures, signs, gestures, symbols, and colors helps you localize your e-learning with the exact meaning you want to convey.

4. Accommodate Expanded Text

While translating and localizing your e-learning courses, ensuring the slide layout is visually appealing in the target language is a major challenge. Sometimes content, when translated, may expand up to 40% of the source course. It can also become double the length in some cases.

For example, when you translate English terms to Spanish, they expand by 25%; when it comes to German, it goes up to 35%.

Solution: You can overcome this issue while designing layouts by setting aside whitespace for potential expansion. Reserving 70% blank space in the source course allows you to accommodate localized content without having to change the layout time and again.

5. Consider Multimedia elements

Translating subtitles, audio, and video elements is also important in e-learning localization.

Solution: If you have initial plans of localization, you can translate audio, video, and voiceover scripts right at the beginning. If you have most of the content in a video format, you need to decide whether to create new videos for various markets or translating the existing source content wherever needed, ex: subtitles for video and voiceover for audio. A best practice is to develop new videos to create localized learning experiences. However, it may not be possible practically all times. Voiceover or audio narration by native speakers will avoid mistakes in pronunciation and dialects.

6. Deal Separately with E-learning and Translation Firms

The major challenge in the translation and localization of eLearning courses is dealing separately with an eLearning company and various translation agencies. Dealing with many agencies will shoot up your e-learning localization costs and is a waste of time. There is a chance for confusion and miscommunication while dealing with separate firms.

Solution: Outsource e-learning end-to-end development and localization to an experienced e-learning solutions provider. Check for an e-learning company with experience in translation and localization services. This saves much of your efforts, project timelines, and budgets.

As organizations venture into global markets, localizing employee training and educating customers in their native language has become inevitable. Hope I could throw some light on the challenges and complex aspects involved in e-learning localization. The given solutions will help you overcome the challenges.

Want to know more about e-learning translation and localization? Download our free e-book: Delivering LOCALIZED training to your GLOBAL workforce.

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