The world is becoming a smaller place everyday. If you’re a large global company, you likely have a multi-language need with how important training and learning materials are made available. Digital training resources can be rapidly deployed to large numbers of staff at minimal cost. So, how are you addressing the increasingly important issue of managing you eLearning localization?
eLearning localization is the process of adapting your existing training courses for use in foreign countries. And, you may need a learning management system (LMS) that can easy switch between your needed languages so that users have a central place to access valuable training materials.
For example, say that an American computer hardware company acquires a competitor in Bulgaria. Rather than sending trainers to Bulgaria at great expense, the parent company hires a localization firm, who adapt their eLearning material for a Bulgarian audience. This saves the company a lot of money and ensures consistent training standards in the newly-acquired business.
Preparing Your eLearning Course for Localization
Successful eLearning localization starts long before you engage a language vendor. Observing the following guidelines will make your eLearning course easier to reproduce in foreign languages.
- Review learning management systems to identify needed language features.
- Have in-country reviewers on hand to give feedback to your translation vendor. Your reviewers can flag any content that isn’t appropriate or relevant in the local culture, e.g. road signs or legal regulations, and recommend suitable alternatives. Get your reviewers and translators talking as early as possible. The sooner you identify the issues, the quicker your project will be completed.
- If you use external agencies to produce course content, you may need to contact them for assistance. Sharing things like screen-shooting scripts and asset maps can reduce design and engineering time.
- You can sometimes use your existing language assets, e.g. Translation Memories, to speed up the localization process. Discuss this with your language vendor.
- Use controlled vocabulary and terminology. Disciplined authorship of the original content allows more accurate translation in foreign languages.
- When designing your layout, leave adequate space in text containers for longer translations. In certain languages your translated content will expand by as much as 50% in length.
- Where possible, avoid hard coding text element in graphics files, as this adds time to the localization process. If the editable source files are unavailable, they will have to be redesigned from scratch.
If you use an LMS, ensure that it can handle the technical aspects of eLearning localization. Put your LMS vendor in touch with your localization team to clarify the following:
- Is your LMS technically capable of supporting multiple languages? Double byte characters, non-Unicode fonts, local weights, measurements, date and time formats are all important when displaying content in multiple languages.
- Which file formats does your LMS uses? There are generally two types: editable source files and published files. Editable files are key, since your vendor can simply adapt them rather than rebuilding your course from scratch.
- Store repeated elements like buttons or navigation elements in a central repository, rather than duplicated on each page. This reduces localization time.
- Understand how your LMS imports and exports content. A good LMS should offer standardised import/export formats like XML.
eLearning Localization is More Than Translation
Don’t focus on the text alone. Audiovisual elements will also need to be localized. Nonverbal communication varies greatly around the world, and certain colors or symbols may be unsuitable for a foreign audience. The ubiquitous “thumbs up” gesture, for example, is taken as a grave insult in Middle Eastern cultures – the equivalent of flipping the middle finger in western societies.
Localization ensures that your entire eLearning course is appropriate and readily understandable in the target country. The importance of working with professionals cannot be overstated. Every country and every language is unique, and you need an experienced team who understand your audience.
TOPYX is an award-wining social learning management system that can help you easily deploy your multi-language eLearning content. TOPYX is available in most languages and there are no per user or per usage charges.
See how TOPYX can help you reach your learning goals by requesting a free, personal lms demo below.