E-learning is an efficient multimedia learning process utilized by individuals and companies alike. Creating an attractive e-learning platform with interesting modules that appeal to everyone is a task that requires a lot of knowledge, effort, and investment. Quite often the process is complicated because the modules should be prepared for people living in different countries and speaking different languages. Whether talking about an international company preparing training for their employees or a global e-learning provider targeting several markets in the USA, Europe, and/or Asia, the process of translating materials properly is known as e-learning localization. To summarize, e-learning localization is the translation of an e-learning course into the target language and adapting it to the specific cultural differences of the region.
Localization gives the e-learning provider a better chance to reach its target and deliver a better, more understandable product. There are specific aspects that should be planned for when developing the course to make it easier for localization. We are happy to offer seven tips that will add value to your product and make e-learning localization successful.
Identify the Target Group
The first step in creating e-learning courses is to identify the target group and then create a custom-made product. The same is true when you need to localize e-learning material that you have already created. The most important factor is the cultural background of the learners, not just the language they speak. List all the criteria that you think is important about your target group such as age, gender, education, cultural specifications, etc. This will facilitate the process of e-learning localization and add value to your final product.
Get to Know the Cultural Nuances
For successful e-learning localization, translating the cultural specifications and nuances are just as important as translating the language. Therefore, you need to know them well in order to create an attractive product. The best case scenario is to experience the atmosphere of the given culture yourself. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. In our globalizing world it is possible to travel anywhere, but it is not plausible to visit all locations and stay long enough to absorb the local atmosphere. That is why you need a trusted partner for your e-learning localization who work with professionals that are the best match for your project.
Choose a Design that is Localization Friendly
Your online course designer should create a design that is “localization friendly.” The platform the course uses should be intuitive and user-friendly regardless of the language the instruction is translated into. Images and graphics should be easily replaceable and should not contain text. Text looks different and will expand or contract depending on the language it is translated into. Plan ahead for this and make sure there is enough white space to hold longer text when it is translated. Video and audio material, if any, should be of excellent quality.
Avoid Idioms, Proverbs, and Jokes
The English language is known for its rich vocabulary and unique vernacular for expressing certain attitudes or ideas. The use of idioms or proverbs can break the monotonous tone of the narrative and may bring a smile to a native speaker, but can be quite confusing to a foreigner. Do not completely avoid them, but instead, use them wisely. When localizing, a professional translator will find the proper counterpart in the target language of your e-learning course. Once you have used a proverb, avoid associating it with any images or using further references. It might translate differently in the target language and the initial associations will be lost. For example, the idiom “to kill two birds with one stone” translates into German “to kill two flies with one swat.” So, if you used the idiom in text about birds then made further references to it concerning birds or stone, it won’t be relevant in German. The same is true for jokes or humor that is typical for a certain country, region, or even profession. If you want some diversity in your text it is better to opt for a quote from a person, who is recognized worldwide – a writer, singer, performer, historical leader, etc.
Be Careful when Choosing Images, Signs and Colors
When preparing e-learning course material it is important to consider not only the text that needs translating and localization, but also all other assets such as images, signs, colors, etc. Some gestures may have different meanings in different cultures and may even be considered offensive. Images and symbols may also bring different association to people speaking different languages. Therefore, it is important to research all of these aspects before choosing the most appropriate ones for your e-learning course.
Replacing images when switching languages is an important way to localize. If you are showing what a home looks like, for example, you can select a different image to correspond to the local associations of a typical “country house.” Because of this, it is important to avoid writing on the images as this will make them easier to replace. It is also advisable to avoid using symbols to substitute words, i.e. don’t put the dollar sign ($) instead of the word “money.” If the learners’ national currency is not dollars, then this can be misinterpreted.s
Always use Professional Translators and Voice-Over Talent
As the actual translation is the base of the localization of your e-learning module, make sure to always hire professional translators for the job. It is best to choose native speakers or at least people who have spent sufficient time in the country of the target language, since they will be familiar with the cultural differences and nuances of the text they have to produce. Paying a linguistic reviewer to check the translation is also an investment that is worth making. The same goes for voice-over talent for an e-learning course video. Hiring a professional native voice-over artist will only add value to your product. The learners will feel more comfortable listening to someone talking in their native language, with the same accent and local dialect. This creates both trust in the e-learning provider and boosts the confidence of the learners.
Test your Product Before Launching
It is a good idea to test your e-learning course after it is localized in a given language before launching it on the market or translating it into other languages. If you have the necessary resources, it is even advisable to do a pre-testing before starting the project. You can use a small group of your target end users to check if the cultural nuances, language, and images used in your e-learning course are appropriate. The test will allow you to validate the e-learning localization and give a green light to its launching. Run your e-learning course on different devices using different browsers or bandwidths. Thorough testing will make sure that your product is compatible with the local markets where it will be offered.
These are the main aspects that make e-learning localization a winner in any language. Following these simple tips means that you will stay on track with your project, saving time and money. Working with enthusiastic and dedicated professionals to create and localize your e-learning course is definitely the road to success.