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 worldwide 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. 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. Unfortunately, not all LSPs provide the same benefits or the same level of quality. You mustn’t get too blindsided by price points because choosing the wrong services can cost you more in the long run.
What is eLearning Localization
eLearning localization is the process of translating and adapting course content for new consumer markets. With the growing demand for eLearning content that can be accessed from anywhere at any time, it’s imperative to localize your content and ensure all learners can engage with your content. So what does the eLearning localization process look like? The following is a brief overview of a successful eLearning localization strategy:
- Schedule timelines: Determine the scope of translated material and the languages involved. Schedule all necessary steps to create an ideal user platform on a realistic timeline.
- Establish stakeholders: Determine a single point of contact for glossary and translation memory to avoid inconsistent translations and decrease brand integrity.
- Localize content: Undergo all necessary steps determined in the initial timeline to localize your eLearning content fully.
- Review: Incorporate extensive quality review to ensure culturally accurate, consistent translations and other factors related to a great user experience.
- Feedback: Review consumer feedback and make any necessary adjustments before entering other 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 voiceovers. The more expensive alternative is to reshoot the video with entirely new talent and scripts. This material needs to be cataloged and organized to determine specific translation needs.
- Graphics: It’s easy to overlook the text within graphics—like infographics, charts, and maps. Finding and updating all those small components can be time-consuming, 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 than 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 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 eLearning content nuances.
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 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 content review and 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 is focused only on a single facet of your project. Instead, you’re recreating your entire learning experience to engage the new market.