5 Best Practices for remote training and eLearning Localization
Between training opportunities and events, organizations around the world are offering more opportunities for eLearning and content sharing than ever before. While this shift was initially driven by the need for remote learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it resulted in lasting changes to how organizations and audiences alike feel about remote learning.
However, in order for an eLearning program to be successful, it must avoid common pitfalls, including language barriers that prevent content from being usable by the widest audience possible. To create content that is accessible and valuable for global teams and the largest range of individuals, it must not only be translated, but localized.
What’s the difference between localization and translation?
Translation changes written words from one language to another. Localization involves not just translating the text, but also adjusting things like graphics, formatting (dates, units of measurements, etc.), idioms, and more so they align culturally and linguistically with the new language(s).
Because localization can help content retain its intended meaning beyond a typical translation, it’s generally a better fit for eLearning and training materials than translation alone. This is especially true when eLearning content may contain complex concepts and a language barrier can make or break the viewer’s understanding.
Common eLearning localization challenges
Before launching an eLearning localization project at your organization, it’s important to be aware of these common challenges and oversights:
Localization isn’t considered from the beginning.
Localization often isn’t considered when eLearning courses are first created, which means extra rework may be required before the content is ready to be localized. This is because content that was written with certain characteristics — including long, complex sentences, passive voice, and more — can be more difficult to translate, and the content may need to be rewritten before the localization process can begin.
Content is created with only one culture in mind.
When creating eLearning and training content, things like cultural context, tone, and language style can have a huge impact on the reception of information. Slang, idioms, hand signs, jokes, symbols, and hyperbole may not translate well in other languages, resulting in content that is confusing at best and offensive at worst. Further, even translating into one language that is used in multiple regions can create problems when the recipients are from multiple cultures. For example, translating the French language for an audience in France may not be received well by French speakers in Senegal, even though it’s the same language. The content should ideally be localized for each locale to make the greatest impact.
Audio, video, images, and graphics aren’t included in the localization plan.
Many eLearning modules include voiceovers, images, and graphics that should be considered in the localization process. Common issues associated with this type of content include:
- Low-quality audio that makes subtitling and voice-over translation difficult
- Animations or images that don’t translate well for other languages/cultures
- Images containing text that can’t be edited
There are no set goals for the project.
Before starting the localization process, establishing goals and metrics for success is imperative. Without goals in mind, you may end up with inconsistent quality across courses, and it will be much harder to demonstrate the value of localization to stakeholders.
eLearning localization best practices
Every project is different, but here are some general best practices to keep in mind as you plan your localization project:
- Strategize and set goals early.
Developing a well-defined eLearning localization strategy is crucial for long-term success. As you create your strategy, be sure to establish targets for KPIs like adoption rate, engagement, course completion rate, user satisfaction, and more. While you likely have overarching organizational goals, having goals specific to your localization program will be imperative to measure success and refine your process over time.
As part of your strategy, you’ll also need to select any relevant technology (e.g. translation management, content management, and/or learning management systems) that aligns with your organization’s needs and goals.
- Create content with localization in mind.
Even if you don’t intend to localize all new content as soon as it’s created, keeping localization in mind will set you up for success if it does need to be localized at a later stage. To avoid the need for additional pre-localization work, follow these best practices as you create new content:
- Ensure high audio quality for voice narration
- Use neutral images that don’t contain text
- If an image must contain text, ensure it’s editable
- Avoid slang, jokes, idioms, hyperbole, and other types of speech that may not translate well
- Use clear, straightforward sentence structure wherever possible
- Pick the best localization partner for your needs.
Your ideal localization partner will depend on your budget, scope, timeline, and whether you’d prefer to work with in-house translators, freelancers, or localization experts.
An in-house team might struggle to scale up rapidly and require significant resources to manage. Freelancers provide flexibility, but often require more oversight — and if you need a large amount of content translated into many different languages, hiring freelancers for each language or project can quickly become cost-prohibitive. Agencies can often provide the best efficiency, especially for large-scale and ongoing projects.
Whichever type of partner you choose, ensure they have fluency in the required language(s) — including cultural nuances — and experience with localizing eLearning content.
- Maintain consistency over time.
Inconsistencies between courses or modules can confuse participants and reduce their trust in future eLearning experiences, so it’s vital to keep all localized content as consistent as possible.
Providing your localization partner with style guides and glossaries can help establish this consistency. These resources may include guidance about tone, detailed explanations about particular phrases, and contextual information that will help translators be as accurate as possible.
However, maintaining consistency doesn’t mean your content should stay the same forever. If your eLearning materials become outdated in terms of language, culture, and/or the content itself, they should be updated accordingly, along with your style guides and glossaries.
- Prioritize and test user experience.
Whether participants or team members access your eLearning content in a web browser, a mobile app, or via specialized software, localized content should function as expected across devices. This means all buttons, navigation items, icons, and more must be localized to create a positive user experience.
Be sure to establish a review process (or work with a language service provider that has their own) so all localized content is tested for accuracy, cultural relevance, and front- and back-end functionality.
Related post: Getting Your Software Ready for Localization: Checklist
Ready to start the eLearning localization process?
With demand for eLearning and remote training on the rise, it’s time to get started on your localization strategy and execution, and the experts at Dynamic Language are here to help.
We provide eLearning localization services, including voice-over and subtitling services. From video modules to eLearning software, Dynamic Language can localize your content in over 200 languages, ensuring linguistic, cultural, and technical adaptability.