For learning managers, developing the elearning localization process is a high-stakes endeavor. Too little attention to the process, and you won’t effectively reach learners around the world or get the critical messages across. Too much attention, without adequate technology and localization practices, and you’ll exceed your budget and your timeline by far.
This is where an LSP or localization service provider comes in. Unfortunately, not all LSPs provide the same benefits or the same level of quality. It’s vital that you don’t get too blindsided by price point because choosing the wrong services can cost you more in the long run. Ideally, you’ll work with a company that understands your material on a holistic level so they can recreate your elearning experience in new markets.
Evaluating Your eLearning Translation Needs
Whether you’re offering digital courses to the general public or providing support for international employee training, you need to audit the materials that require translation before you get started with a vendor. It’s easy to just focus on the textual content in your CMS and forget about other components that make up the total experience—but this overlooks a lot of nuances.
You’ll also need to consider:
- Audio: A new script with proper voiceover talent is a necessity. Just because someone can read aloud in a foreign language does not mean they’ll be able to put the right inflection and personality into their voice.
- Video: Video can be expensive to recreate, which is why many opt for subtitles or native language voice overs. This material needs to be cataloged and organized to determine specific translation needs. The more expensive alternative is to reshoot the video with entirely new talent and scripts.
- Graphics: It’s easy to overlook the text within graphics—like infographics, charts, and maps. Finding and updating all those small components can be a time-consuming task, especially when they’re embedded into the photos or illustrations.
- Formats: Something as simple as a date format can cause a lot of confusion when it’s not accounted for in the translation. Consider the American standard of completing numerical dates with month/day/year formats compared to the European standards of going day/month/year. Overlooking formats like this can cause missed deadlines and confusion.
- Navigation: User experience elements, like the sign-in buttons and navigation menus, should be in the user’s native language. Ideally, they’ll default to that language based on preset criteria in the user profile. You don’t want your users to have to hunt through an English landing page to find the content they need.
There is a lot more involved in the elearning localization process than most stakeholders understand. It’s wise to outsource these projects because the right partner will be familiar with all the nuances of elearning content.
Choosing a Partner in the eLearning Localization Process
The boom in elearning demand is also driving increased access to various translation services—but not all of them are ideal for a complex elearning project. Choosing the right partner for your localization process is going to make all the difference.
Ideally, that vendor will offer three specific things:
The translation should not be a point-A-to-point-B process between your company and your vendor, where you just turn over files and wait. A good vendor will collaborate with you to ensure they’re accurately translating not only your language, but also your company voice. Ideally, you’ll have a language manager handling content for each of your markets to eliminate confusion and conflicting information.
eLearning localization isn’t complete once you receive the translated materials. It’s done when you’re satisfied with the content. You should have the opportunity to review all the files, submit feedback, and obtain changes. Schedules should be built on the complete process, not just the content turnaround time. That allows you to keep your internal timeline realistic and avoid delays.
There are two parts of the quality assurance process in translation: the review of the content and the review of the built environment. By reviewing both separately, and then as a single experience, the provider can ensure a consistent, user-friendly platform for all involved.
When your elearning localization process is done right, your provider will offer collaboration and focus on the complete experience so you can get a comprehensive and user-friendly platform for your new market. This process ensures that you’re not getting a one-note translator who’s focused only on a single facet of your project. Instead, you’re recreating your entire learning experience to engage the new market.