Elements to Focus on When Localising E-Learning Content

Damian Hehire-learning

4 Elements to Focus on When Localising E-Learning Content

If you have learners in different parts of the world, it might be necessary to localise your e-learning content. This could be an essential process if learners don’t all speak the same language, but this isn’t the only reason to localise e-learning courses. Another compelling reason is that you can also get better results by localising the content.

What does localisation entail? It is much more than simply translating the text into another language. Here are the four main elements you should focus on.

1. Text

While text isn’t the only consideration when localising e-learning content, it is important. It can also be one of the easiest elements to localise, as you can use automated tools or manual translation.

If the topic is straightforward and the writing is clear, an automated tool might be sufficient. For more complex topics, including those that feature jargon and industry-specific words, a manual translation is often better. You can also use a hybrid approach where you use an automated tool to do the translation and then have it proofread by a fluent speaker such as an employee in the other location.

When using automated tools, always remember there is a difference between translating and localising. Translation is about changing the words into another language, while localising also considers tone, context, and nuance.

Another thing to consider in relation to translating text is differences in text length. The space required after the text has been translated can increase or decrease by as much as 30 percent. This can impact the design of your e-learning course. Therefore, translating and localising text should be considered early in the development process.

2. Voiceovers

Voiceovers can be a feature in e-learning courses on audio files, videos, and animations. For audio files, a new voiceover version will need to be recorded in the localised language.

For videos and animations, subtitles are an option. One challenge with subtitles is if there is also text on the screen as part of the video. Reading the on-screen text and the subtitles can be challenging for learners. In this situation, a new voiceover in the required language might be the better approach.

3. Images

All images in e-learning courses should be reviewed to determine if they need to be localised. One example is an e-learning course on a software application. This type of training could include screenshots of the software, but the text in those screenshots could be in the wrong language for the localised version of the e-learning course.

It’s also important to review images for potential cultural sensitivity issues. Images that can cause cultural offense or confusion should be changed.

4. Videos

You can run into the same problems with videos as you do with images. This includes text on the screen as part of the video. It also includes the visuals in the video and whether they might be offensive or confusing to audiences in different locations.

As videos can be one of the most expensive elements of an e-learning course to produce, it is beneficial to consider localisation in the early planning stages. By considering localisation early, you can reduce the amount of localisation work that needs to be done to create the required alternative versions of the video.

Other Things to Consider When Localising E-Learning Content

  • Colours – colours can have different meanings depending on the location.
  • Symbols – the meaning of symbols can vary from location to location, and there can be cultural sensitivity issues to consider.
  • Units – measurement units are not universal, so you may need to switch from kilometres to miles or kilograms to pounds. Dates, numbers, and currency symbols can also be displayed differently depending on the location.
  • Abbreviations – abbreviations common in one location might not be well known in another.
  • Phrases and idioms – phrases and idioms can also be location specific, so their meaning can be lost to learners in other locations.
  • Fonts – some fonts are not supported in some languages, so it is best to choose a font that can be universally applied.

Benefiting from Localised E-Learning Content

In general, learners want to learn in their own language. As a result, localising e-learning content offers benefits to learners and improves the learner experience. You will also benefit from a more engaged audience and better learner outcomes when learners feel more aligned with the localised content.

There is a bit more work involved, of course, but the additional requirements can be minimised by proper planning and thinking about the localisation aspects of the project early in the process.