What is eLearning Localization?

Spend any time in the eLearning industry, and you’re sure to hear the term localization at least a few times. If you’ve heard of localization, you probably have a few questions. And if you hadn’t heard of it before, now you have. Read on to find the answers to all your questions about localization!

What is eLearning localization?

Localization is the process of translating eLearning—or any other content—into a different language and adapting it for a specific region.

Why should I care about localization?

English might be your native language; however, the most spoken language in the world is Mandarin with 850 million speakers followed by Spanish with around 400 million native speakers. With so many non-English speaking learners, localization is important because it ensures that your eLearning course is comprehendible by the target audience and culturally appropriate. It also expands your possible market reach into any market you choose.

What do I need to consider when I’m going to translate my eLearning?

Always be conscious of text space and line breaks. For most languages, text will translate much longer than the English equivalent. To accommodate expanding text, design flexible text containers—no constrictive frames or boxes! Be aware of the language your course will be translated into, so you avoid formatting issues for right to left languages like Arabic. Also, consider your sentence structure when writing course content. Keep your sentences short and simple. This isn’t the time for excessive compound and complex sentences, and you shouldn’t be using filler phrases either. Especially keep passive voice to a minimum because that structure can get confusing after translation.

So all I need to do is translate my eLearning for it to be localized, right?

Wrong. Localization goes beyond just translating your eLearning course into the intended language. You also need to make sure your course is culturally appropriate. For example, when you’re writing course content, avoid culture-specific slang, idioms or expressions because they’ll lose their meaning once translated. It’s also important to avoid using abbreviations and acronyms, which could confuse the learner. In addition, limit the use of examples whenever possible. Something that’s culturally appropriate in your country may not be in another country.

But images are universal, aren’t they?

Not all images. Keep in mind that cultural icons differ across borders. For example, Americans would recognize a dollar sign or thumbs up gesture, but learners in a different country will be confused by those symbols or even offended. Also, the registered trademark symbol, ®, can be confusing in Russia because the English letter “P” is the symbol for the letter “R” in Russia. Another example of images that won’t translate well is road signs. Research any symbols you’re unsure about before you use them in your eLearning course. It’s best to only include universally recognized symbols so that anyone—anywhere—will understand your content the way you intended. 

How can I be sure my course is culturally appropriate?

Check with local experts to make sure all the content in your eLearning course will be understood the way you intended in the target language. To be the most efficient, you should research the culture before you begin developing your course. After you’re finished creating and translating your eLearning course, perform user testing with people in the target country.

Is my authoring tool translation-friendly?

When you’re choosing an authoring tool, make sure it’s capable of supporting multiple languages. Lectora® eLearning software is an authoring tool that makes the translation process a breeze. This easy-to-use authoring tool lets you quickly export all text to be translated with the single click of a button using the translation manager feature. 

For more helpful eLearning resources and information, check out some of our other great eLearning whitepapers.