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The Vital Role of Culture in Training Localization

Multinational organizations need to take the diverse cultures and values of employees into account when training their multilingual workforce. This process is best known as training localization. It enhances the effectiveness of your training, improves employee efficiencies, and thereby enhances the overall business outcomes.

To achieve this, most organizations translate their online training courses into different languages. However, their efforts don’t go beyond that. But, with changing times, employees are expecting more localization in their training programs to reflect their preferences. Thus localizing training content has become inevitable and culture plays a critical role in the success of e-learning localization.

Culture – What Is It?

According to the anthropologist E.B. Tylor, culture is the combination of various elements such as knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society over a period of time.

The Importance of Culture in Training Localization

Different cultures attach different significance to words, visuals, signs, gestures, colors, etc. As one training won’t fit all cultures, it becomes imperative to focus on and incorporate these differences and nuances in localized training programs.

For example, a ‘gift’ in English refers to a present, an offering, etc. But the same word ‘gift’ meanings ‘poison’ in German. Employees should be made aware of such variations. Localization has to identify and educate employees on such sensitive aspects.

Let’s now look at how different signs mean different things in different places. For example, the thumbs-up’ sign denotes well done and agreement in Western culture, but is considered insulting in the Middle East.

It’s hard to believe, but colors also have different significance depending on the location. For instance, Yellow indicates happiness, cheer, optimism, warmth, joy, and hope in Western cultures. But in Germany, it represents envy. Likewise, Purple which symbolizes royalty, wealth, spirituality, and nobility around the world is the color of mourning in Brazil and Thailand.

Look for different interpretations of words, signs, and colors in different geographical regions. You must consider these cultural nuances to make your training relevant for your multicultural workforce.

Decide the Scope of Content Adaption

You can customize the training during localization. But it can turn out to be a complex process and you may also lose the essence of the actual training. So it’s better to define the scope – the extent to which we need to localize the content. You need to consider idioms, metaphors, dialects, and abbreviations, but limit their usage. In some European countries, adjectives are used after nouns so the order of letters in acronyms also changes. These differences should be taken note of and highlighted.

Design the Course Layout as per the Content Flow

The writing style of various languages also has to be taken into account in e-learning. For instance, text flows from right to left in languages such as Urdu, Arabic, and Hebrew. In East Asian languages, the script can be written either horizontally or vertically. You need to make necessary changes in the course design and layout. Graphs and flow charts’ sequence and course progression need to be flipped around.

As discussed earlier, select colors that have a positive connotation in that particular culture. The political and religious significance of colors should also be taken into account before choosing them for your online training or e-learning.

Select Narration Style According to the Culture

Preferences of narration styles also have an important impact on the response to e-learning courses. It is seen that Asians mostly prefer a formal style of presentation while Westerners enjoy an informal or conversational style. So online training courses based on the teaching styles popular in those specific cultures will be more appealing to learners, especially in audio narration.

Recognize the Roles of Gender

There still seem to be a few reservations about females interacting with males in some cultures. It is preferable to use male narration in such countries. There are no such reservations against female voices in the West.

Know the Meaning of Graphics and Images

Just like colors and gestures, images too can have different meanings in different cultures.

For example, you can’t use images of women without a scarf or hijab in the Middle East. However, you don’t have such restrictions in the West. Similarly, you need to adapt currency symbols to the respective country.

You need to understand that in this age of globalization, the workforce is multicultural and multilingual. Focusing on incorporating these elements to respond to these differences is essential for the success of localized training programs. Considering the discussed factors will make online training localization a success.

Need more clarity on training your multilingual workforce? Check our free e-book: Delivering LOCALIZED training to your GLOBAL workforce.

The State of Learning: 2023 and Beyond