eLearning: Translating and Localizing Your Global Training
With companies expanding across the globe, the need to train employees and inform customers in all parts of the world is growing. A report from Common Sense Advisory states that 56.2% of consumers said that to them the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. When conducting global training, people absorb information and learn better in their native language.
The website builder Wix is a key example of a company that built this fact into their strategy. They found that their localized training videos were achieving great stickiness in the global market and they were able to invest and leverage this to their advantage. If you are looking for similar success, here are some best practices for localizing your eLearning materials.
Don’t wait until the last minute, localization should instead be an integral part of your project planning. One of the most common and costly mistakes is waiting until the eLearning course has been completed and then deciding to translate all the content. This more often than not leads to headaches and cost overruns. If you instead decide ahead of time whether or not your content will be presented in multiple languages, it allows you to arrange things from the beginning in a way that makes it easy to translate into multiple languages and localize.
Design with Localization in Mind
If your text is embedded in a photo, it will make the translation process more difficult. You need to make sure there is enough space on that heading to accommodate translating into a language that might be significantly longer than the source language like when you translate English into German. You also want to ensure that the components that will be translated can be easily manipulated without affecting the generic content that will remain the same throughout. You should take these aspects into consideration when designing headings and titles, text placement on a page, image placement, as well as symbols and icons.
Consider the Culture
Using the right visual language can be tricky. Images or words that seem innocent in one cultural context or that represent something special for one culture may have a completely different meaning to another. For instance, don’t put an image of someone wearing a green hat on your material for China unless you are sure you want to present them as a cuckold. Another example: In Japan, the number four is avoided if possible because it is pronounced “shi”, which also means “death”.
Don’t Use the Wrong Symbols
Certain symbols and icons represent different things across various cultures. For example, the “Help” section of your website may be represented by a question mark. Certain languages do not use question marks though and you will need to use a different symbol in the translated version. Metric vs. imperial systems for measurement or the order of day, month, and year are other examples. Acronyms and slogans with culturally specific contexts that are hard to explain or translate into other languages will also cause issues.
Finalize Your International Version Before Localizing Global Training
It’s good practice to have an English version of the content you want to use internationally completely nailed down, edited, tested and completed before moving on to localization. An error in the original content will lead to ballooning costs and the further along the localization process is, the worse it gets.
Hire In-Country Linguists
It’s not enough to say “Lisa speaks Spanish, so she can translate the content.” Speaking a language does not equate knowing the current trends, lingo, and industry specific terminology needed to make a quality translation. There is a lot involved including sentence structure, grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. Also, while Google translate has improved a lot over the years it is still riddled with errors and sentences that really don’t make sense. Just using machine translation of any kind will never give you the natural flow of the language you want in your content to make it attractive for native speakers. Having a human translator review the material to make sure that it is up to your quality standards is key. It will be obvious and distracting to your learners if the content isn’t properly translated, and your material will lose credibility.