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5 Tips for eLearning Localization in 2024

eLearning localization adapts your eLearning content for a multilingual or multicultural audience. Increasingly, more businesses are using localization to deliver training across their entire organizations to improve employee performance and company profits, and your business can too. 

Want to localize an eLearning course ASAP? Check out Pairaphrase.

In this post, we’ll look at why eLearning localization is important and how it’s different from eLearning translation. We’ll also go through the top best practices for localizing eLearning.  

By the end, you’ll know how to localize your eLearning content for the best return on investment and whether it is the right investment for your business. 

Why it’s important to localize eLearning content

You may be using eLearning for a number of reasons, including:

  • Employee training
  • Compliance courses such as anti-harassment or health and safety
  • A digital product you sell to educate customers

Whatever the case, eLearning content localization ensures that you get the right message across to viewers of different cultural contexts. 

Let’s break down the advantages based on each eLearning content type.

The importance of elearning localization in employee training and compliance courses

Though English is an international language, not all users may be proficient enough to comfortably understand your content. This is especially true if your content is specialized or technical in nature, as training and compliance courses often are. 

If your employees misunderstand information in the training phase, it will lead to delays and miscommunication in every related project they’re involved in. The unnecessarily wasted resources will be many times greater than the comparatively short time and cost of properly localizing your eLearning content. 

The importance of elearning localization for digital products

A 2020 survey found that 76% of online shoppers prefer to buy products with information in their native language. That’s just for information about a product. Imagine if language is an integral part of the actual product itself — such as with eLearning!

Creating a smooth and curated user experience increases customer engagement and loyalty, ultimately leading to more profit. 

eLearning localization vs eLearning translation

If you’ve ever tried to read a manual in another language, you know that language has a significant impact on how well people learn. 

The added effort of having to translate the information in addition to understanding it can slow you down significantly. It may even make you misunderstand what you’re learning.Therefore, it’s crucial to translate eLearning content — however, this isn’t enough. 

With translation, you can easily understand the words, but they may be conveyed with the wrong visuals or in the wrong context. This will certainly not lead to a learning experience that builds efficiency in employees or loyalty in customers. 

eLearning localization fully optimizes your content for your audience, not just linguistically but also culturally, technically, and legally. In addition to the translation of text, it also covers:

  • Visual layout (up-to-down or left-to-right text, typical placement of images)
  • Photos and graphics (familiar people, places, and objects)
  • Date and time formats
  • Currencies
  • Units of measurement
  • Icons and symbols
  • Fonts
  • Colors
  • Terminology, acronyms, and abbreviations
  • User interface
  • Cultural and legal context (laws or customs that prohibit certain actions or items)
  • Technical limitations (software that users in a country have access to)

eLearning Localization Best Practices

Now you know why it’s so important to localize your eLearning content. With that in mind, here are the top 5 best practices for how to do it for the greatest rewards.

1. Think globally and create a localization strategy early on

Localization is a very complex process that affects everything from text and images to website layout, colors, and code. Your entire brand must be prepared to accommodate differences in all these elements. 

Some businesses first create eLearning content with one audience in mind, then decide to localize it for more languages and cultures. However, with this approach they end up having to undo previous work, recreate culture-specific content from scratch, or waste time looking for workarounds to technical issues. 

In the worst case scenario, you may even find your software is incompatible with the language you need to localize to.Create and keep a localization strategy in mind right from the start, and you’ll save time, expenses, and headaches down the line. 

2. Make your eLearning content easy to localize

With a localization strategy right from the start, you can create a product that will be easy to localize later. 

One option is to limit or avoid using elements that are culture-specific. For example, you may choose to use fewer or more generic images to support your text. However, this practice will likely detract from your product’s quality or user experience. Localize the look and feel of your elearning content whenever possible. 

If you try to speak to everyone at once, you will end up speaking to noone.

When you do use elements that need localization, save them separately and keep track of where you took them from. You’ll have everything you need ready to be localized and then integrated into your course without wasting time looking for it.

You can also keep culture-specific or updatable content in a format that is easier to localize. For example: 

  • Avoid embedding text directly in images as it is much more difficult to extract and localize
  • Keep animations in your text and slides simple
  • Keep information that you may need to change, such as prices and dates, in the visuals rather than the audio. It is much less expensive to change a few numbers on a slide than to redo a voice-over. 

3. Polish your content before localizing it

Before you start localizing, make sure the sources you’re working with are free of any errors. 

Mistakes in your source only need to be corrected once. However, if you localize that mistake into 5 languages, then it now needs to be corrected 5 times. This means 5 times the amount of time and money. 

Have an expert in your language and field do a quality check. It’s best if this person is not the same person who created the source content. If you read a text dozens of times, you may overlook mistakes that a fresh pair of eyes would catch right away.

4. Understand the target audience and its culture

Localizing eLearning means not just translating content into another language, but also adapting it to another culture. 

This includes everything from measurement units and currencies to cultural references and customs. Consider these examples:

  • People drive on the right side in North America and the left side in the United Kingdom
  • January is the middle of winter in Canada and blazing hot summer in Brazil
  • Purple represents richness and royalty in Western cultures and death and mourning in Thailand

Any aspects like these impact the experience of your users. If you use them intentionally with the consultation of an expert in that culture, you can make that impact increase loyalty and profits rather than diminish them. 

5. Use tools to speed up the process

Localization can be very time-consuming, especially with multimedia content like in eLearning. Fortunately, there are many tools that both speed up the process and ensure top quality. 

Here are just a few:

  • Ensure that your learning management system (LMS) is compatible with a translation management system (TMS) to have all text ready for translation and avoid having to go through all your content to extract it.  
  • Use a glossary to make sure all your terminology is consistent and well translated before you start localizing.
  • Put a translation memory to work to avoid needlessly translating the same or similar content over and over again.

The best translation management systems (TMS’s) have a full suite of tools (including the above) to maximize the efficiency and quality of localizing your content. 

Get Started

Speaking of translation management, we recommend you explore the top 5 features to look for in eLearning translation software.

Or, you can accelerate your software hunt with a demo of Pairaphrase. It’s the AI-powered translation management system for global teams who want to translate faster, smarter and safer.

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