What is eLearning Localization and Why Does it Matter?
The 21st century has seen a vast shift in the way people communicate globally, which was further accelerated by COVID. Virtual, on-demand training videos, modules, and slideware have become even more important with the rise of remote learning as a new norm. This content, whether it be coursework, tutorials or whole online modules, must be well-produced, engaging and multilingual to be effective. Some of the challenges institutes and workplaces are facing in this new era of eLearning include engaging a remote workforce, documenting progress, and customizing learning and development. All the while, companies must also maintain a brand-consistent, professional tone to increase engagement and retention. So where does eLearning localization fit in?
How is eLearning localization different from eLearning translation?
With a workforce spread throughout the globe and learners desperate for content in their mother tongue, localizing your learning management system (LMS) is one of the most effective ways of keeping your audience engaged, inspired and included. Over 90% of people want to learn in their native language, but there’s more to it than just translating the text from the original course language to another. Translation simply offers an eLearning course in an alternative language that preserves the meaning, whereas localization adapts the course to the target audience and culture. This includes amending or adapting the images, idioms, fonts, currency, dates, tone, measurement units and other integral details. The aim of eLocalization is to ensure the learner or employee understands the intended meaning of the course content in their cultural context.
Why is eLearning localization so important?
Localization considers cultural disparities that might offend. For example, a picture of a thumbs up might be considered a sign of encouragement to an American reader, but in the Middle East it’s a very rude gesture. The best way to avoid offending is to learn as much as you can about a country’s etiquette, styles of communications and values, which can be added into your eLearning. Or you can work with native localization professionals that are experts in their country’s culture. Localization is sensitive to cultural nuance and adapts the course to align with the culture of the intended audience.
Ignoring cultural differences in eLearning courses runs the risk of alienating a large section of your audience, resulting in revenue loss. It’s important to understand the traditions, customs and practices of the people in your target country. Paying attention to these points makes the content feel local, clear, and engaging for the audience.
How to achieve effective eLearning localization
Focus on both design and language
The videos, graphics, and images are just as important as the text when it comes to localizing your eLearning content. For example, if you have implemented a course in the U.S., you might include a graphic of a thumbs-up to encourage the audience. In Iran, this graphic could cause great offense as it is considered an insult to give a thumbs-up.
Consider which fonts and styles may be common in the market and be aware that some fonts are not recognized or supported by certain languages. Keeping this in mind helps prevent glitches further down the line.
Understand your audience
It’s impossible to successfully localize your text without fully understanding your target audience. Before your instructional designer begins creating your course, execute in-depth research about the cultural preferences, accepted tone, and spelling to make sure they are successfully implemented.
Without understanding your audience, you can miss the mark and fail to engage your audience. Other factors to consider include the age and gender of your audience. Words and images can be utilized to create maximum engagement for their demographics. Make sure you also consider dates, currencies and times. It’s easier and more cost-effective to research and address these issues at the beginning of your localization strategy.
Identify the best language for your audience
There are over 6,000 languages spoken around the world. Thankfully, you won’t need to localize your content for every single one. There are about 30 most commonly spoken languages, including English, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian and French to name a few. By targeting the more commonly spoken languages, you can ensure you’ll reach a large portion of the market available.
Don’t forget the importance of voice localization
Many eLearning videos, modules, and slideware are delivered with voice-over narration to better explain and contextualize on-screen text and graphics. The same localization principles apply to your recording script. But, with voice narration, other quality considerations come into play, like whether your narrator fits your brand and is lively enough to engage your teams, and if your recording environment (microphone, studio/room) is up to snuff.
There are numerous business and performance reasons to avoid using internal team members for narration, even if they speak the local language. One, these employees (often instructional designers) are not professional voice talents, so they typically don’t have convenient, ongoing access to high-quality recording equipment. Next, as staff, they can always leave the organization, putting it at risk of mismatched narration as the eLearning library expands. For better, long-term results, consider a dedicated voice service provider that offers the languages and ongoing talent availability to keep your content consistent over years of updates.
Design modules that are localization-friendly
Recognizing the importance of eLocalization at the beginning of the process helps streamline the process. There are a few tips that you can employ to make sure your course is easily localized:
- Customizable multimedia – use editable source-files so that your media can be easily adapted and localized for different languages and cultures with subtitles, voice-overs, etc.
- Use neutral images – avoid images or branding that will only be recognized by certain audiences
- Steer clear of text on images – it takes a long time to extract and translate embedded text
- Test the font compatibility with your target languages – some fonts are unavailable or incompatible with other languages
- Avoid idioms or too many jokes – this is not to say you can’t have a sense of humor, but localizing jokes and phrases can take time
Build a localization kit for your brand
A localization kit (or style guide) for your brand helps protect your tone of voice. Having your localization kit ensures that your offering feels cohesive, no matter how many people are working on your projects. Things to consider including:
- A glossary of your technical words, phrases and acronyms
- Your company’s tone of voice and personality
- Your preferred grammar conventions (ellipsis, exclamation points, quotation marks, etc.)
- Your website structure
- How you’d like the text to appear
Find eLearning localization experts to help at BLEND
Considering the complexities of eLearning localization, teaming up with the experts at BLEND ensures your content will be engaging and inclusive for all your clients. BLEND has a talented team of native-speaking translators around the world that understand not only the language, but the cultural nuances of different audiences.
Every step of the localization process is monitored, with expert feedback on images, currencies and design elements to ensure the content is culturally appropriate. The BLEND team works with you to draft, prepare, edit, and adapt your content. The global translation professionals at BLEND localize in 120 languages, while your personal account manager ensures that deadlines, quality control, formatting specifications, and any specialized requests are fully met.
Start reaching your global market effectively today
A localization strategy aims to create an offering where customers feel included and fully able to access the content of the course, which should be inclusive of their language and cultural norms. BLEND aims to help you develop the most comprehensive localization strategy for your brand.
Further global reaches and increase knowledge retention by localizing your content for your target audience. Clients and users will find it far easier to implement what they have learned from the very first lesson.
Start designing your localization strategy with BLEND today to access your multi-market clientele.