When I first started writing this article, I had to decide how I’m going to style the head noun of the title. Is it e-Learning with a hyphen or without it and what’s the difference anyway? So, I did a little research and found out that the former was used in the earlier days when the concept was still new and unfamiliar to many. But as it was rising and slowly becoming a regular part of our lives, we dropped the hyphen so we could save ourselves from pressing one more key of the keyboard. That’s how I got to learn something new, even if it’s as banal as learning how to style a word.
Why is it important to localize eLearning material?
Since a big part of the learning process happens on the Internet nowadays, more and more people are leaning towards remote learning. They can choose from number of online courses, and there’s even the possibility of enrolling and attending online universities. Having that in mind, it’s important to think about the global outreach it may achieve. Which is why it’s necessary to localize the learning material, so it could be understandable for the worldwide audience thirsty for knowledge. However, as for any other localization process, there are few essential guidelines which can make the job a lot easier.
Defining the languages and the target markets
It’s impossible to dive into the localization process before we’ve identified our target markets and the appropriate languages. Right after that, we need to define the scope of localization. This would, first and foremost, include:
- Content – because you need something to learn from;
- User interface – because there is no point in beginning your journey if you can’t understand the first half of it;
- Audio content – if there’s any audio content incorporated in the learning material, it should be localized as well;
- Images, graphics, screenshots – images are as important as the text, which obviously means they should be adadpted for every language in the predefined scope;
- Help guides, glossaries and resources – don’t forget any other external content that could be helpful for the learners.
UI in the name of improving the UX
Since one of the goals should be providing the users with excellent experience, a good way to do it would be to make the simple and smooth user interface. In addition to the UI being localized, it would be nice if it had logical flow that doesn’t confuse the users. All images should be replaced with the culturally appropriate ones. Of course, we shall not forget to leave some space for text expansion. Also, don’t forget to think about different devices and to optimize the interface accordingly.
Pay attention to details
When localizing learning material, we must not forget the different cultural features. Since it’s a really sensitive subject, we must approach it with special care. The same thing can have vastly different meanings across the globe. Which is why it’s also crucial to adapt all other features like colours, symbols, images, etc.
Every localization professional can assure you that the process is not easy at all. Some things are just hard to transcreate and adapt for different markets, particularly if there are any colloquialisms, regional or other linguistic variations that are hard to translate or that are untranslatable at all. In order to avoid that, we should always use simple, concise language and pronunciation.
The flow of the localization process
For this matter, it would be best to build the localization team out of language professionals and native speakers, who know the source and target language in depth. So, if there are any changes/updates in the learning material or the localization workflow, they will be familiar with every detail.
In addition to translators, there should always be a team of reviewers, who will check and proofread all the materials. There is always something that translators could oversee or something that could be translated in a more fluid and natural way. After all, two heads are always smarter than one.
Testing the final product
After wrapping up the material, it’s obligatory to do the extensive testing to see how the different users will be taking the courses. The testing should be carried out several times and on several different sample groups in order to get the better insight. Also, it is suggested to do the testing for different devices and browsers. It should also be tested for different bandwidths, too, since some countries may have limited access to the Internet.
Please have in mind that this is a time-consuming process that simply cannot be done overnight, as it requires a group of professionals to work on it continuously. If you would like to dive into eLearning localization, but don’t know where to start, you can always seek help from our language experts who are more than willing to guide you through the whole process.