E-learning is quickly becoming the training method of choice for global organizations. In 2017, four out of five US corporations were using online learning, and by 2025, the worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 billion.
As a result, there are a lot of platforms to choose from. Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate are hugely popular, while in the UK, PC Mag’s top five recommended learning management systems (LMS) for enterprises include Absorb, Docebo, LearnUpon and SAP Litmos. In the US, Capterra ranks Brightspace highest, followed by Moodle, Blackboard and Lessonly.
The appeal for global organizations is obvious. Compared to traditional teaching methods, e-learning is far more cost-effective. The majority of the expenses are front-loaded in the creation of the course, with none of the logistical or printing costs that come with conducting traditional face-to-face lessons.
The Research Institute of America has also found that e-learning improves knowledge retention by 25% to 60%, thanks to users having greater control over the learning process. Modular courses can adapt to different learning styles and speeds, and are flexible enough to fit around learners’ lives regardless of where they’re based in the world.
For global enterprises, that final point is especially important. When your workforce is spread across several countries, an e-learning course is the most effective way of ensuring you’re delivering the same program regardless of your audience’s location.
However, this does invite the question of how to ensure that employees who speak different languages are getting the right messages, delivered in the right way. Here are 11 tips on how to effectively localize your e-learning content for your global audience.
- English is the global language of business, and Start Up magazine lists Mandarin, Spanish, German and Portuguese as the next most important languages in the business world. But effective training can’t just be translated into popular languages: your courses should be localized to each individual country, language and culture.
- Make sure you use in-country specialists with an in-depth understanding of the subject matter, e-learning best practices and local social, political and cultural influences to adapt training materials.
- Write your source e-learning course using simple language and avoid acronyms and idioms. That way, the content can be translated into different languages more effectively while reducing the risk of deviation from the original message. If technical jargon is unavoidable, make sure your in-country specialists are able to identify and correctly translate the terms.
- Related to this, the stakeholders in your target countries should be fully engaged in the process from the start, with review stages agreed and adhered to. The more invested your local teams, the better the final translations will match everyone’s needs.
- E-learning content can come in any number of different multimedia formats, and localization is just as important for videos, images and interactive elements as it is for the text itself. For example, some cultures will prefer videos containing subtitles instead of voiceovers or vice versa. The media will also need to seamlessly integrate with the cultural expectations of your target countries.
- Keep text out of images. That way, you can translate a course into a new language without having to recreate your creative assets.
- Your tone of voice and terminology should be consistent across your content and languages. If you don’t have them already, create a glossary and style guide and apply them religiously to all new translations.
- Check with your language service provider about their preferred file format for the source text. Some e-learning platforms allow you to export text to XML, XLIFF, XLF or even Word files, which can allow for a smoother translation process, but isn’t possible in every product. In some cases, custom parsers might need to be created in order to convert the files to a translatable format.
- When designing your original course, make sure to provide extra space to allow for expanded sentences in the target languages. When recording original audio or video, add some time to accommodate the different lengths of dialogue in other languages and leave a little room at the bottom for subtitles.
- If you’re translating video or audio content, make sure scripts are approved before actually recording the translations. There’s nothing more painful than having to rewrite and re-record.
- Build a testing phase into the process to ensure all content is translated and displayed properly. Check for formatting issues to ensure your new content follows the original course as closely as possible.
Why does it matter?
A survey of 2,500 companies by the American Society for Training and Development discovered that those with comprehensive training programs have 218% higher revenue per employee and 24% higher profit margins. Getting your e-learning localization right is worth the investment of both time and money because it makes a tangible impact on your bottom line.
These tips will help you get the most out of your global e-learning program while reducing the obstacles that inevitably crop up during the localization process. If you are considering translating your own online courses, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your needs.
And if you’re based in the UK, discover how to simplify your e-learning with us at Learning Technologies, Europe’s leading showcase of organizational learning. Join us on February 12 and 13 at stand P18 in the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London, where we will be presenting the key steps that training teams need to take to streamline their e-learning processes.