When it comes to eLearning localization here’s what you need to know to get it right.
eLearning has become an important part of many people’s lives, especially since the pandemic. eLearning platforms have become increasingly popular as a means of acquiring new skills, knowledge, and certifications from anywhere in the world. This global appeal means that if you want to make your eLearning platform international, certain factors need to be considered when translating and converting your courses successfully into other languages.
What is eLearning localization and why is it important?
eLearning localization is more than just a direct translation of words, it’s about transforming your courses and platform so that everything about it suits your target audience in terms of their language, social constructs, and culture. eLearning localization helps bridge cultural differences in your courses while helping students acquire and retain knowledge more efficiently and effectively.
What should be localized?
Unlike document translation, there is a lot to consider when localizing your eLearning platform. Here are some major aspects that should be addressed,
- All written text and content
- Graphics, images, photos, and symbols
- Audio and video
- Tone of audio narration
- Graphical User Interface (GUI) and formatting (e.g. date formats)
- Units of measurement, dates, and currency
- Idioms and abbreviations (if used, though best avoided to start with)
- User experience elements (e.g. navigation buttons)
Key planning steps for eLearning localization
1 – Plan for localization early
Often an afterthought, the need for localization should be identified and planned right from the creation stages as pre-planning makes the localization process run a lot more smoothly.
When creating your eLearning courses, here are a few ways to make them more localization-friendly,
- If possible, keep multimedia minimal and keep graphics simple.
- Consider the use of neutral humanoid images wherever possible making the character images relatable no matter what region or culture.
- Test your font’s compatibility to ensure that it is compatible with your other target languages as it may not be supported.
- Avoid using humour and idioms as these can be difficult to translate into other languages.
2 – Know your target audience
It is essential to know the audience you are seeking to reach in every area that you want to localize in. Researching is required to learn about a region’s language nuances, cultural preferences, tone and even spelling variations. This can affect everything from colour and image choices, your selection of eLearning voice-overs, and how you approach culturally sensitive topics. Hiring eLearning localization services is an easy way to ensure you nail this step.
3 – Expansion and contraction
As each language is unique, one of the major features you need to pay attention to when localizing is the expansion and contraction that occurs when transcribing certain languages. This is important because it can affect the general layout of your course and its graphical elements.
This is especially important when translating Chinese Mandarin to English as text may contract by up to 20-50%! The opposite happens when, say, you want to translate from German to English the text expands anywhere from 10-30%. If you have audio and video content these issues also apply. So be sure to consider this when putting together your courses.
4 – Graphics and other visuals
While some symbols and images are universally understood some may need to be reworked for successful media localization. Items that often get missed include navigation buttons, speech bubbles, and progress bars, animations, and colour selections. Take a look at the colour white, for example, and how differently it is viewed depending on the culture. In the West, the colour white can signify purity and cleanliness but in many Asian countries, the colour white can be associated with death and bad omens. These seemingly small aspects can be the defining features that draw the line between a successfully localized eLearning platform and one that is not.
5 – Focus on language AND design
eLearning translation is sometimes the easiest part of a localization strategy but one of the defining features of localization is that it needs to be all-encompassing to reach the native audience of an area. Design features and choices need to be considered when building eLearning courses. For example, say your original course video was created for the UK market and you’ve translated all the text and audio content for the Latin American market, however, the video graphics remain unchanged. Say in the video a man snaps his fingers as he recollects something. If you plan to deliver this content in Latin America you might end up with a few confused learners as the gesture of snapping one’s fingers in Latin America is a way of asking someone to hurry up.
Design features also include the user interface and the choice of colours and fonts as previously mentioned. Failure to consider these items will lead to ineffective and easily misinterpreted course content.
6 – Technical considerations
If you want things to move fast and smoothly in the translation process, be sure that all of your eLearning content is in appropriate editing formats and source files. This includes videos, images, audio, presentations etc. This helps avoid the need to start anything from scratch which saves not only time but also money.
7 – Use multilingual translation services
If each of these steps feels overwhelming, it’s because you need the best translation services company for a partner that can walk you through this process. Don’t sell your elearning translation content short, get help from qualified localization companies, like Into23.