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Translation and Localization Strategies for Online Training

Have you ever been involved in training a global workforce, where you needed your online training content to be delivered in multiple languages? You are not alone, this is quickly becoming a norm for most organizations with a globally dispersed workforce and calls for the translation and localization of your online courses.

Translation and localization are the strategies to build a successful e-learning course for a globally diverse audience. Both are crucial aspects of a global training strategy. Before creating multiple language versions of your online training courses, you need to define your translation and localization strategies for better results. This becomes easy if you understand your target audience, their geographic location, and the customs they follow.

Like every aspect of e-learning development, translation and localization also follows a process. In translation, apart from ensuring an error-free original content for translation, the most important aspect is to make sure the content is culture-neutral. As for localization, you need to ensure that you understand the cultural nuances of your target audience so that you can select the appropriate visuals and graphics and take care of culture-specific aspects.

As an e-learning service provider, CommLab has worked with some of the leading Fortune 500 companies across different cultures. The company has over 18 years of experience creating and designing online training courses for global audiences. In the process, we have developed more than 1500 courses in 40 major languages of the world.

Language Diversity

Catering to the various requirements of diverse clients, we have developed specific methods to adapt the courses to different languages and cultures. Some of our courses required modifications in layout, others required modifications in graphics and images. For this purpose, we use a multi-language interface with a switchable template which enables our clients to host a single course on the LMS which can then be accessed in multiple languages, catering to the needs of various groups of learners.

Master Course in English

As an eLearning organization, we have been essentially translating the English master course into multiple languages, after making it culture-neutral.

A client approached us with a requirement to develop eLearning courses for workplace safety. They wanted the courses to be translated into Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Burmese. Considering the cross-cultural implications, we had to ensure that cultural sensitivities were taken into consideration. Our strategy was simple; we developed a base course (on workplace safety) in English that was culturally neutral. The characters that were developed were neutral and could be used for a global audience. We refrained from using graphics that could cause confusion. With suitable translations, the client could train its globally dispersed employees in their native languages.

Design Aspects of a Culture-Neutral Course

The first step is to follow a common language. When the base language is English, it is always better to stick to international English. It is easy for any national to comprehend international English. For instance, Britishers use the term ‘Fire Brigade’ while Americans call it ‘Fire Department’, to make it neutral, you could refer to it as a ‘Fire Station’. Another aspect to be considered is graphics. It is better to refrain from using gestures, captions, and taglines that could be interpreted differently by different cultures.

Being aware of global sensitivities can go a long way in ensuring that you build culturally sensitive eLearning courses. It is also important when it comes to training a global workforce, as each culture plays a major role in building the global presence of an organization. How did you tackle developing culturally neutral eLearning courses for your globally dispersed workforce? How did you do it differently? Do share your thoughts.

The State of Learning: 2023 and Beyond