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Exploring e-learning localization: what it is and its importance nowadays

Jun, 12, 2024
Tim Aleksandronets
Tim Aleksandronets
CEO at Blue Carrot

Introduction

In this article, we highlight an aspect of e-learning that doesn’t get enough attention: e-learning localization.

E-learning localization is the process of adapting learning content to the linguistic and cultural needs of the target audience. It is an essential part of e-learning development when developing content for multiple languages and/or learners in different countries. 👨🏻‍🎓

In today’s interconnected world, companies increasingly recognizing the necessity of effective e-learning programs to train their global workforce. However, a one-size-fits-all approach often falls short due to the diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds of employees. Herein lies the significance of e-learning localization: a strategic process that adapts training content for different cultural and regional contexts, ensuring relevance, engagement, and compliance.

Let’s explore how localizing e-learning content can transform learning experiences and why it’s indispensable for corporate training. 👇

Summary

  1. What is e-learning in localization?
  1. Why e-learning localization matters
  2. The e-learning localization process
  3. Identifying audiences that benefit from e-learning localization
  4. How to choose an e-learning localization provider
  5. Revolutionize your training with Blue Carrot’s localized e-learning solutions

What is e-learning in localization?

Localization is an essential part of e-learning development when you are developing content for multiple languages and/or learners in different countries. It includes text translation to the target language, adapting language to cultural norms, making technical adjustments to audio and video files, and contextualizing content for international audiences with varying cultural norms. Localization can make the difference between effective and ineffective training. Making learning content available in multiple languages when learners may not be native English speakers can significantly impact corporate training outcomes.

What localization does for e-learning content

Imagine a corporation headquartered in the United States rolling out a compliance training module created for its American employees to its branches across Asia and Europe. Employees who speak different languages and operate under different legal frameworks may find the content difficult to understand or irrelevant to their unique contexts. This disconnect can lead to low participation rates, ineffective training, and even non-compliance with local regulations. Localization addresses these challenges by tailoring the content to meet the specific needs and expectations of each target audience.

For example, after DFW Airport offered safety practices localized into Spanish, lost time dropped by 83% below the Texas state-wide average, and the airport enjoyed five years with no fatalities. Currently, 90 percent of corporations are using e-learning for their training. With the global corporate e-learning market expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.5% in the next decade, localizing content should be a priority when developing e-learning content.

How is localization different from translation?

While localization in education involves translation, it is much more than simple translation alone. Translation converts text (or recorded audio) from one language to another while maintaining the original meaning. Language localization in e-learning goes beyond that to address the context of the translation and its format in e-learning platforms and ensure that it makes sense and is relatable to the target audience. Different regions may use different currencies, have dissimilar common names and titles, and follow diverse procedures that need to be addressed in localization.

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Why e-learning localization matters?

Localizing e-learning content is necessary for training to maintain its effectiveness when engaging in the global education of a workforce by converting content for different regional audiences. Creating learning content that connects with learners from varying backgrounds and overcomes language and cultural barriers allows all trainees to have an equally positive learning experience. Even with translation, without the other aspects of localization, some content may be incomprehensible or even inaccurate. So, why is e-learning localization important?

✅ Facilitates learner comprehension

Cultural nuances can impact the meaning and affect learning content. It is important to make it as understandable as possible to learners. Adapting e-learning content through localization changes written content, graphics, units of measurement, date formats, subtitles, voiceover, and user experience elements to make training as accessible, familiar, and comfortable as possible.

✅ Addresses cultural sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity and awareness can prevent misunderstandings and foster an inclusive learning environment. Examples and case studies relevant to one culture might not resonate or might even offend individuals from another culture.

✅ Improves effectiveness of training programs

When training materials are adapted for specific markets, they become more relevant and easier to understand, leading to better learning outcomes. This relevance is crucial in technical or compliance training, where understanding nuanced details can be critical.

✅ Increases student engagement

Localization increases the relevance of the learning content to the target audience. It reduces excess “noise” and unfamiliar information, so learners can focus better and spend less mental energy puzzling over phrases that don’t quite make sense. When learners see content tailored to their language and cultural context, they are more likely to engage with the material, participate actively, and complete the course.

✅ Ensures compliance

Regions and countries may differ in laws, requirements, and professional standards that may need to be adjusted for those learners’ learning content. By localizing e-learning content, corporations can ensure that their training programs comply with local laws and industry regulations, thus avoiding potential legal issues and reinforcing the importance of compliance among employees.

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The e-learning localization process

Many different aspects of e-learning localization optimize content for different languages, countries, regions, and professions. Let’s take a closer look at the processes involved in localization and their best practices.

📌 Translation

Translation makes all instructions, assessments, and other learning materials accessible and understandable to learners of different linguistic backgrounds. A high-quality translation incorporates the correct use of idiomatic expressions, technical terms, and industry-specific jargon to preserve meaning. It also considers linguistic nuances such as gender neutrality, formality levels, and regional dialects. Consistency is key, demanding a structured approach to terminology management and glossary development to ensure uniformity across the entire course.

Examples:

  • Adapting idiomatic expressions: “Break a leg” might be translated to a local expression that conveys the same encouragement.
  • Terminology management: Maintaining uniform terms for technical jargon, such as “cloud computing” consistently translated as “computación en la nube” in Spanish courses.
  • Gender-neutral language: Rewriting sentences to avoid gender-specific pronouns, such as using “they” instead of “he/she.”

📌 Cultural adaptation

Cultural adaptation in e-learning localization adjusts the course content to reflect the cultural norms, values, practices, and expectations of the target audience. Elements such as examples, case studies, scenarios, and references need to be relevant and relatable to the learners’ own experiences.

Examples:

  • Using local references: Replacing sports analogies with culturally relevant activities, like cricket in India instead of baseball.
  • Adapting scenarios: Changing names in case studies to common names in the target culture.
  • Addressing cultural norms: Modifying images to reflect the local dress code and social practices.

📌 Content modification

Content modification tailors the e-learning material to suit the learners’ needs, backgrounds, and learning environment. This process could involve simplifying complex concepts, providing additional explanations, or incorporating local laws and regulations. Content modification also ensures material aligns with the company’s local operations, practices, and policies. For example, a localization expert might update examples, scenarios, and roleplay to reflect real-life situations that employees might encounter in their specific geographical or organizational context.

Examples:

  • Simplifying language for non-native speakers: Breaking down complex paragraphs into simpler sentences.
  • Including local regulations: Updating compliance training to include region-specific laws and policies.
  • Adjusting examples: Using industry-relevant scenarios that employees in a specific country might encounter.

📌 Voice adaptation

Voice adaptation involves modifying the course’s auditory components to suit the target audience’s cultural and linguistic characteristics. This includes translating voiceovers, dubbing existing audio, and adjusting the tone, pace, and style of speech. It is necessary to find professional native-speaking voice actors of the target language with a regional accent or AI voiceover tools that offer that language.

Examples:

  • Using native speakers: Recording voiceovers with native speakers with the appropriate regional accent.
  • Matching tone and pace: Ensuring the speech pace matches the comprehension speed of the target audience.
  • Dubbing: Replacing original audio with high-quality voiceover in the target language.

📌 Legal compliance

Legal compliance ensures that the localized e-learning content adheres to the target region’s local laws, regulations, and industry standards. This is particularly important for corporate training programs that often cover legal, financial, or safety-related topics. Localizing content for legal compliance involves updating scenarios, case studies, and examples to reflect local laws and regulatory requirements, and ensuring that the course content does not inadvertently violate local laws or cultural norms.

Examples:

  • Updating legal examples: Include region-specific legal scenarios in compliance training.
  • Ensuring non-violation: Review content extensively to ensure it does not breach local laws or norms.
  • Adhering to standards: Modify health and safety training to align with local regulatory standards.

Identifying audiences that gain most from e-learning localization

There are many learning audiences for whom localized e-learning content is essential to a high-quality learning experience. Audiences that especially benefit from learning materials that reflect their language, culture, legal systems, and market specifics include:

  1. Non-native English speakers: Employees whose primary language is not English will benefit significantly from localized e-learning. Providing courseware in their native language improves understanding and retention, making training more effective.
  2. Global teams: In multinational companies, teams are spread across different countries. Localizing e-learning ensures all team members receive the same quality of training, tailored to their cultural and linguistic contexts.
  3. Remote workers: As remote work becomes more common, employees working in various global locations can benefit from localized training that addresses their specific regional and cultural differences.
  4. Local management and leadership: Management teams in different regions need training relevant to their local business environment, legal standards, and workplace culture to effectively lead their teams.
  5. Customer service representatives: For employees interacting with customers from specific regions, localized training can help them understand cultural nuances and communication styles, leading to better customer service.
  6. Sales teams: Sales personnel can perform better when they understand the cultural background and preferences of their target market, which can be achieved through localized e-learning.
  7. Technical support teams: Support teams need to understand not just the technical aspects of products but also the specific needs and communication styles of customers from different regions.
  8. Compliance and legal teams: Different regions have different regulations and legal requirements. Localized training ensures that these teams are current with the local laws affecting their operations.
  9. New employees in foreign subsidiaries: New hires in overseas offices need onboarding that reflects their local working environment and corporate culture, in addition to understanding the global company culture.
  10. Product development teams: Teams working on products for specific markets will benefit from understanding the cultural preferences and requirements of their target users, which can be facilitated through localized training.
  11. Human resource professionals: HR teams managing diverse workforces need to understand cultural differences in labor laws, workplace norms, and communication styles, which localized e-learning can provide.
  12. Marketing professionals: Marketers creating campaigns for different regions must understand local consumer behavior and preferences, achievable through localized training in marketing strategies and cultural nuances.

👉 By localizing e-learning for these groups, companies can ensure more effective training, improved employee performance, and better alignment with corporate goals across all regions of operation.

How to choose an e-learning localization provider

When choosing an e-learning localizer for corporate training, corporations should consider several factors to ensure the content is effectively adapted for their global workforce. Our comprehensive list of what to look for in a professional team that understands the complexities of e-learning localization will help guide you through the process of choosing a provider.

  1. Expertise in Subject Matter and Language: Ensure the localizer has expertise in both the subject matter of your courseware and the target language. They should understand the industry-specific terminologies and concepts to provide accurate translations and cultural adaptations.
  2. Cultural Sensitivity and Local Knowledge: The localizer should have a deep understanding of the cultural nuances, legal standards, and local business practices of the target region. This ensures that localized e-learning is appropriate and effective for the local audience.
  3. Technical Proficiency: The e-learning localizer should be proficient with the technology and platforms you are using. They should handle various e-learning formats and integrate localized content seamlessly into your Learning Management System (LMS) or other e-learning platforms.
  4. Quality Assurance Processes: Look for localizers with robust quality assurance (QA) processes in place. They should have a system for reviewing and testing the localized e-learning materials to ensure accuracy, usability, and compatibility.
  5. Experience with E-learning Localization: Choose a localizer with a proven track record in e-learning projects. They should understand the pedagogical principles and how cultural differences may affect learning styles and engagement.
  6. Scalability and Resource Availability: Ensure the localizer can handle the scale of your project and meet your deadlines. They should have sufficient resources, including a team of translators, instructional designers, and technical experts.
  7. Feedback and Revision Processes: The localizer should be open to feedback and be willing to make revisions. A collaborative approach ensures that the final product meets your expectations and effectively serves the learning needs of your employees.
  8. Cost-Effectiveness: While cost should not be the only factor, it’s important to consider the pricing structure of the e-learning localizer. Look for transparent pricing and ensure that the services offered align with your budget without compromising quality.
  9. Client References and Portfolio: Request and review the localizer’s portfolio and client references. This can give you insights into their experience and the quality of their work.
  10. Post-Localization Support: Choose a localizer who offers post-localization support. This includes addressing any issues that arise after the courseware is deployed and making updates as necessary.
  11. Compliance and Security: Ensure that the localizer complies with industry standards and data protection regulations. They should secure your intellectual property and confidential information throughout the localization process.
  12. Innovative Solutions: Look for localizers who offer innovative solutions, like adaptive learning paths, gamification, or mobile learning to enhance the learning experience for your global workforce. For example, using AI tools like ChatGPT and Synthesia is a cutting-edge capability in the modern e-learning industry.

👉 The right localizer can significantly impact the success of your global training initiatives. By considering these factors, organizations can choose an e-learning localizer who will provide high-quality, culturally relevant, and effective training materials for their diverse teams.

Are you considering AI for online course creation?

Revolutionize your training with Blue Carrot’s localized e-learning solutions

By emphasizing e-learning localization, companies can ensure their training modules are relevant and compliant for diverse global teams. 

👉  Blue Carrot is a leader in this field, excelling in translating and culturally adapting content that boosts engagement and enhances learning outcomes. We offer comprehensive services that include adaptive learning paths, gamification, and mobile learning, ensuring a superior learning experience for your international workforce. 

Our quality assurance processes, technical expertise, and post-localization support guarantee seamless deployment and continual enhancement of e-learning materials. To see how Blue Carrot can transform your corporate training, contact us to arrange a consultation.

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