Would you like to use your e-learning courses successfully in other countries? If you answered "yes" to this question, you will eventually come across the term localization. But what is it exactly?
Localization vs Translation
The term localization is often confused with another term, namely translation. Translation refers to the transfer of source texts from software, documentation, websites, or digital content into another language. Localization, on the other hand, is much more than just linguistic translation. It includes not only translation and adaptation of content, but also complete cultural adaptation of a product to a target audience and country-specific conditions. This includes, among other things, adaptation of colors and layout, as well as an analysis of symbols, photos, and graphics that may not make sense in the target culture or may be perceived as offensive there.
Simple things like feedback in a quiz with the thumbs up-thumbs down symbol must be questioned. The visual impact is not only cultural, but also dependent on the reading direction and therefore needs to be taken into account especially in the Arabic-speaking world - for example, process graphics must be designed differently here. In addition to the visual level, the communicative level is also strongly culturally influenced. The way a business conversation is conducted in Europe and Asia, whether small talk is conducted or personal matters are exchanged as an introduction, differs significantly. A mere translation of dialogues in a sales training will not suffice in this case; the dialogues or scenarios must be completely redesigned.
Localization of E-Learning Courses
If there is even a slight chance that an e-learning course will be translated or localized, this should be considered from the beginning. You must already pay attention during the initial creation that, for example, enough space remains for longer texts in another language or to refrain from using idioms. An easy example: Including spaces, "Click on the button to proceed" is much shorter with 31 characters than "Klicken Sie auf die Schaltfläche um fortzufahren" with 48 characters. And in this example sentence, gender-specific language did not even have to be considered, which in German can require even more characters depending on the method. Of course, as with pure translations, the fonts used must be checked for correct character display. This is particularly important when using Cyrillic or Chinese characters, for example. It is advisable, if possible, to avoid text labels in graphics. Text elements can be quickly replaced by the content producer in an authoring tool, if not even automated, while a graphic adjustment often requires an additional graphic designer. It should also be ensured that animations that are timed to audio texts can also be timed correctly in other languages. But localization is much more than that.
The Localization Process
As an e-learning expert, you must be aware that a localization process consists of several steps and can take a lot of time and budget. In addition to adapting the e-learning course to the target audience, proper preparation of the localization documents, translation, checking of the localized content, voiceovers, technical implementation, and many other steps are also involved. Always think of your target audience for whom you are localizing. It may be that in large companies, uniforms are slightly different in each country and that the avatars depicted in each country must also be accordingly "dressed up."
In this case, we are talking about the gap analysis, which should be carried out at the beginning of a localization project. The aim is to identify the differences in content between the country or region for which the source version was created and the new target region. These differences can include different product ranges, workflows, price tags, or packaging, as well as different legal regulations. Sufficient time should be allocated for this preparatory step, as a poorly executed analysis can result in unnecessary adjustments, additional photo shoots, and much more. Furthermore, gaps in the analysis often reveal discrepancies that need to be clarified between countries within the company. Employees are often unaware that things are handled differently in other countries, and it is only through the gap analysis that these differences are uncovered.
To successfully carry out a localization project, experts from different fields are also required. At LearnChamp, the localization team consists of a project manager, learning designer, tool expert, and graphic designer. In your company, several roles may be combined into one person. Additionally, companies often work with external agencies, such as for translations and recordings, and engage in-house employees, such as subject matter experts.
5 tips for efficiently managing your localization project
...and saving costs, time, and stress:
- Plan localization during the initial project and set up the source project accordingly.
- Research cultural differences beforehand to avoid cultural missteps and proactively address adaptation needs.
- Conduct a gap analysis with the respective region/country managers.
- Clarify what things are globally prescribed by the company and cannot be changed despite regional/cultural differences.
- Derive quality assurance criteria from the gap analysis that are particularly checked in the localized version, such as when name tags are always worn on the right instead of the left in one country or when a brand is named differently in another country.