Let’s say you are developing — or have already developed — training content and e-learning material for your employees, partners, or clients. The issue is, you don’t operate in just one country but in several — so now you are probably asking yourself one or more of the following questions.
I’ve already developed my e-learning content. Can I just translate it into other languages?
This depends a lot on your content and target audience. E-learning and training content can mean very different things — from an interactive onboarding course teaching customer service to a flight simulator, to an online product tutorial.
Training content that is very simple can usually just be translated — think of the safety procedures videos we all watch when on board an airplane. However, when the content is more complex and has elements that are specific to a country or culture, you will need not only translation services, but also localization services.
You will want to adapt your e-learning and training so that your foreign audience finds it as instructive and engaging as your original audience.
For instance, imagine you are selling handcrafted Moroccan carpets in the Americas. In your video tutorial on how to take care of a carpet, you suggest that carpet-owners spread their carpet on the snow once a year, to rid it of insects and mites. Now, this makes perfect sense for customers from the northern United States and Canada — but it’s useless advice for most other regions in the Americas, where there’s no snowfall at all. So, you should delete that section from the tutorial, and suggest instead some other method for cleaning carpets more appropriate to warm climates. This is localization of e-learning content.
Can I use the same e-learning content for all countries?
Again, it depends on your content and audiences. While some kinds of content are entirely neutral, others have specificities that can make it confusing or even offensive in some countries.
Let’s say you have subsidiaries in both the Middle East and South America. You’ve developed an onboarding video for your new employees which features a female instructor with revealing cleavage. In that case, you will probably have to create a different video for your Iranian collaborators — but your Brazilian personnel will have no problem with the video at all.
On the other hand, if you’ve developed an interactive course that includes only text and graphic elements, you can use it to train people in pretty much every country, although you might need to check for potential offensive symbols. You just must find a good translation company and have the course translated into as many languages as you need. (By the way, the expert Upwords team can help you with this.)
I’m still developing my e-learning content. How can I develop it so it’s easy to localize afterwards?
To create content that’s easy to translate and localize, here are two things you can do:
- Avoid culture- or country-specific elements. For instance, don’t use colors or visual signs that are interpreted differently in other cultures.
- Cater for variations in word length and alphabet from one language to the other. As an example, if your customer training includes text, and you plan to use it in China, make sure there’s enough space onscreen for the text to be replaced by ideograms. If you are going to use it in Arab-speaking countries, remember Arabic is written from right to left, so it’s important to be able to move images and text boxes to accommodate that.