Learning has gone through many a change, thanks in part to the technology that makes the changes possible and in part to the changes to our work lives and our lifestyles. We now learn online, on our own, in a classroom setting, or a mix of both, from our workplace, from our homes, or anywhere else.
As a result, the eLearning sector has had to respond to these changes continuously. One effect of these changes is that eLearning has become far more accessible than ever before. Which means that learners are spread throughout the world and speak numerous languages.
Most of us are comfortable learning in our own language. And hence arises the need to offer eLearning courses in multiple languages.
While a multilingual eLearning program is hugely advantageous to the learner, creating it can pose some challenges if you are new to the process. In this post, we’ll talk about some common issues that can come up when creating a multi-language website for eLearning or a multilingual eLearning app.
Localize, not just translate
One of the first things that one has to bear in mind when producing a multilingual training program is that translation is just a part of the process and doesn’t account for all of it. The reason being that an eLearning course consists not only of words, but of images, navigation elements, interactive quizzes, gamified content, audio and video components, to name just a few.
All of this non-textual content needs to be adapted or localized to the user’s native preferences or locales. For an Arabic learner, the alignment of all the components on a website or app needs to be mirrored. Some themes may have to be changed when learners come from different cultures to avoid irrelevancy or offense. Very minute things like where a comma is placed in a number can make a huge difference, as decimal systems are written differently in different places around the world.
So, eLearning translation has to be done by native speakers, not just because of their language fluency, but their intimate knowledge of their own society and its practices. A huge team of developers and designers also work with translators to make the program easily customizable and accessible to learners from different countries.
Plan before you plunge
Corporate eLearning takes on different forms depending on whom the learner is and what the objectives of the program are. Employee training looks to onboard new employees, make them aware of company guidelines and processes, or help them develop new skills or acquire new certifications. Channel training is for distributors or customer care associates based either locally or globally. Customer training takes the form of explainer videos and demos.
When entering a new market or offering a new service/product in an existing market, decide which of these training programs you want to localize. You can then arrive at an audit of the amount of text involved and other content types such as video and audio that need to localized and translated. From this, you can arrive at an estimated cost for the entire translation.
Translate with technology
Learning management systems (LMS) that support multilingual features make it easy to render the same program in numerous languages. Use translation memory to re-use previously translated and approved strings. This helps maintain a consistent quality level. Machine translation engines powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can learn from translation memory and translate better.
You can create style guides that will inform translators on the tone of voice, the words that should not be translated, and so on.
Translation management systems (TMS) based completely on the cloud make project management a breeze, transparent, and accessible. Many translators can work on the same project at the same time, without any issues about multiple versions. Interaction between translators, project managers, and clients is also possible via this system for clarifications and suggestions.
There are also tools available for review and quality assessment, which make the work go faster.
Work with an experienced language services provider
You are the expert when it comes to creating the training product. But when it comes to translating it, that might not necessarily be your core competence. Translation of an eLearning course involves many moving parts and takes the vast resources and experience of a language services provider (LSP) to accomplish.
An LSP can be your true partner in reaching global learners, as they can provide you valuable advice on the translation approach to adopt, the tools to use, and the potential issues and how to avoid them.
Choose an LSP that has proven expertise and experience in localizing eLearning modules. It must provide translation in a number of languages, and offer all the services such as subtitling or voice over required for a turnkey job.
Advantages of a multi-language learning platform
eLearning courses come with many advantages to companies wanting to train a global workforce. However, they often struggle to engage the learner. Typically, eLearning courses report very low completion rates of 5 to 15%. This happens because of many reasons, but one of the factors that can increase engagement is language.
Learning in your own language can bring faster and clearer comprehension. This motivates the learner to keep going further and complete the course.
Social learning is also made possible with localized courses. Groups of learners can meet online on forums and discuss the course and inspire each other.
Further, employees don’t feel disenfranchised when they are offered a carefully localized training program. It’s a great motivation for them to see that the training material is not just for the employees at headquarters, but in branch offices everywhere around the world.
Clearer understanding of company guidelines, best practices, safety rules, and the like can lower the number of accidents. This not only keeps your staff safe, but also saves the company a lot of money that would otherwise have to be paid out in compensation and lawsuits.
In conclusion, prepare to localize your eLearning program even if you are currently not reaching out to multilingual learners because you very well might be doing so soon. Partner with a veteran LSP so that you don’t end up doing rookie mistakes. Reach your international learners quickly and effectively with an eLearning course that has been localized and translated with a lot of care.