Any training material or eLearning course should enable learners to focus on the content. But would they be able to do that if they are not very proficient in the language in which the course is developed? What if they get distracted with language comprehension issues that might dilute the focus on content?
Here are some of the typical issues faced by learners whose primary speaking language is not English.
Inability to have 100% focus and attention
If a training or eLearning course is in the native language, a momentary distraction does not affect the comprehension of the course to a great extent. Since the language is one that we are familiar with, we seem to be able to pick up very well from where we left. However, we cannot transfer this ability during a course in a non-native language. It is not always possible for employees to focus 100% during a course and when if the course is in a non-native language, one tends to get tired easily even more. The slightest distraction might set the learners behind in their comprehension, making it quite taxing for them to catch up.
Need to go back and repeat a module or section for better comprehension
Very often, even as learners are still trying to understand and figure out what is being shared, a new concept or an idea is introduced. Of course, eLearning provides the option to go back and repeat modules/sections for better comprehension. However, this is certainly not a smooth and pleasurable experience for most learners. On the other hand, this would only lead to a struggle and could dissuade an employee from doing a course, especially when they are preoccupied with his/her primary job responsibility.
Difficulty to understand the tone, pace or accent of the speaker
An individual might be fairly well versed with a language but might not be familiar with the accent being used by the trainer during the training. This can pose problems in comprehension. Chances are that the content is not completely understood or worse, misunderstood. The ability to comprehend the pace, speed and tone of the speaker might vary from person to person and it may be difficult to cater to the requirements of all employees. Giving learners the option to hear in their native language or having the transcript in the native language might be useful.
Taking courses in a non-native language needs more effort and time from the employees. They need to devote more energy towards understanding a course and this can be reduced to a large extent if courses are presented to them in the language they are most comfortable with. Multinational organizations would want their employees to gain knowledge and apply the knowledge, as soon as possible to the job situation.
Therefore, it is better for multinational organizations to have eLearning courses translated into the native language of the target learners. This enables employees to understand the content quickly and transfer the knowledge gained to a job situation fast.
These are some of my insights. Do share if you wish to add to it.