In times of globalization and multinational organizations, companies want to offer online training that reaches a global audience. This means that the learning content must be tailored specifically for each culture group.

If you have ever had to design or develop a multilingual e-learning course, you know firsthand that developing content for multiple languages can be quite a challenge. This is especially true if you have not planned everything correctly in advance so that the process runs smoothly and efficiently. For that purpose, you can also get e-learning localization services.

Understand the concept of localization

When it comes to publishing a course in multiple languages, many think that all they have to do is translate the written content. This messes up translation and localization.

  • Translation is the process of translating text and words from one language to another without making any adjustments.
  • Localization is the process of translating and customizing content for a particular culture. It is often a matter of making changes not only to the text, but also to images, language style, colours, currencies, etc. in order to take cultural and regional differences into account.

In many situations, simply translating the text in a course is not enough. You should adjust the content to make sense for your learners in other cultures. Suppose you are developing an e-learning course for a multinational delivery service. The course is aimed at delivery service employees based in Germany, the United States and India on how to deliver packages on time and safely.

In addition to translating the text from English into German and Hindi, you have to adapt the content yourself to take account of local driving and occupational safety laws.

You should also consider adjusting the images to more accurately reflect the learner's daily environment. For example, the American version of the course can show background images of busy New York City streets and the Indian version can show the even busier streets of Mumbai. In addition, the image of a delivery vehicle in the American course could be a typical American van, the Indian version could be a tuk-tuk or a rickshaw. These changes in imagery make the course more meaningful and relevant for learners.

Plan the localization in advance

The key to a successful localized project is to plan every step of the localization process from the start. Think about your multicultural audience from the start to avoid quality problems and save time. Things to consider in the project planning phase are:

Identify the target markets and languages you want to localize.

You need to find out which languages you will localize for as early as possible. Keep in mind that while your learners might speak the same language, you may still need to create multiple courses to account for regional differences, for example, a course developed in Spanish may not work for Mexico and Spain at the same time. Why not? In addition to the many language differences between Mexican and Iberian Spanish, there are regional differences that have to be taken into account, for example: different products, laws, technical standards and currencies.

Develop the course completely in one language first.

It is a good idea to design and complete the course in one language BEFORE localizing the course in other languages. If you develop all of your courses in tandem, you will find that you will have to do a lot of reworking, for example, imagine one of your subject experts asking you to change two paragraphs in your course. It's much easier (and more cost effective!) To do it in one language than in five different languages. Once the first course is complete, you can save time by localizing your course in the other languages.

Allow additional time for development and testing.

It may seem obvious, but it takes more development time if you create a course in multiple languages. In addition to developing the course in the first language, you need time to adapt it to any other language. This includes development, testing and review steps. It is a good idea to plan the localization process by taking additional development and testing time into account in your project and schedule.

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