E-learning has affected many industries and has a positive impact not only on traditional classroom learning but also on corporate training and personal development. In order to reach a broader audience, a course needs to be presented in the mother tongue of the learners, which can be done using two main principles – e-learning translation and e-learning localization.

At first, it’s difficult for many people to perceive the difference between the two terms, and they often confuse them. While they do bear certain similarities such as rendering the text from the source into the target language, translation and localization are two distinct processes that take different time and means to be achieved.

Both services are offered by language service providers (LSPs), translation agencies, and freelance translators, so you need to be aware of the difference in order to choose the service that best meets your needs and future goals.

The history of e-learning can be traced back in time to a much earlier age than the modern term suggests. Hence, a good understanding of its purpose, combined with your specific needs and goals defines whether e-learning translation or e-learning localization is the right service to choose for your project. Knowing the difference between the two terms and the right approaches and best practices is also essential for the success of your e-learning course.  

What is e-learning translation? 

In order to understand what stands behind e-learning translation, it is necessary to know the meaning of translation. According to GALATranslation is the communication of meaning from one language (the source) to another language (the target).” The meaning of translation refers to written text, whereas the term used for the oral rendering from one language into another is called interpretation. 

In this sense, the translation of an e-learning course from one language into another means simply rendering the words from the source into the target language without taking into account the cultural and other differences of the two languages and respective audiences.

An e-learning translation will allow the learners to better understand the material as it will be in their native language. It may, however, leave them wondering about the meaning of certain references, videos, images or other non-verbal or more specific expressions. Hence, it is a better idea to refer to e-learning localization should you aim to get better results with your course.

What is e-learning localization? 

When we talk about e-learning localization, it is necessary to refer to the meaning of the term localization. According to GALALocalization (also referred to as “l10n”) is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. Translation is only one of several elements of the localization process.” 

The process of e-learning localization includes several steps that mere rendering the text from one language to another. It also features elements such as:

  • Coverting measures, dates, currencies to local requirements 
  • Changing the layout and design to fit the translated text 
  • Adapting graphs, charts, images to the local audience 
  • Adapting videos and references to local culture 
  • Adhering to local regulations and legal requirements  

The overall goal of the localized content is to give the text the feeling that it was initially created with the specific target audience in mind and not to sound like a mere translation from a foreign language.

What is the difference between e-learning translation and e-learning localization? 

The main difference between e-learning translation and e-learning localization is the overall feel and look of the text. While the translation only changes the language of the text, the localization changes each element that needs to be adapted to the local market by taking into account the local preferences, tastes, culture, legislation, and overall requirements.

E-learning localization takes into account all details and is more efficient both for student and corporate training. It makes it easier for the learners to related to the content of the course and thus learn faster and with higher retention levels. 

In addition to that, localization can be used if you want to adapt a text to a specific audience that speaks one and the same language. English in the UK and in the USA are different and so are dates, measures and cultural references. Hence, you will get a better result if you use e-learning localization for your course when marketing it in the US, if it was originally created for UK learners. Same goes for other popular languages such as Spanish.

Which are the best practices of e-learning localization? 

There are several tips and best practices when it comes to proper localization of an e-learning course or a corporate training material. E-learning and localization need a set of tools in order to be efficient and reach their ultimate goal – educating the learners and providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills to progress further in life.  

Some of the best practices to follow in order to get the best results from your e-learning localization are the following: 

  • Create your course with localization in mind and avoid too narrow and culturally-specific references and language expressions. Be careful with embedded images or graphs as this will hinder the localization process.
  • Use the right tool for creating the course that will allow you to localize it at a later stage in as many languages as you need.
  • Set your specific goals for each target audience and provide them to all the experts involved in the process. These can include course creators, designers, testers, translators, editors, and the like.
  • Decide on whether you need to include a video file in your e-learning modules and which method you will use for its localization – subtitling, voice-over or a different video depending on the market.
  • Choose the right service language provider who will be a partner in the translation and localization process.

It is necessary to take into account the cost of creating and afterward translating and localizing an e-learning course. Make sure that you do not try to trim costs at the wrong stages as that will affect the overall process quite negatively. Do not be tempted to use employees or partners for translation or rely purely on machine translation as that will be counter-productive in the long run.  

Here at ICD Translation, we are ready to help you with e-learning translation and e-learning localization in any language you need and our experience and expertise are a firm guarantee for the quality of our services.

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