The localization of your training materials is the best way to boost employee productivity.
After all, having the best-trained team has always been one of the keys to having the best overall business. Because:
- Only properly trained staff can deliver the internationally-renowned quality of service that every business wants to have a reputation for delivering.
- Only a fully trained team will ensure that things like the tone and voice of your brand and the values of your company are built into all the work they do.
- Only a thoroughly trained employee will be safe while delivering the high-performance levels and customer conversion potential which results in the most profit for your company
Today, with so many companies seeing the benefits of having an international workforce, this is truer than ever…
But an international workforce – for all the advantages it brings – also brings an additional challenge for businesses who have one:
How do you deliver the same high-quality training to employees who speak different languages and hail from dramatically different cultures?
E-learning localization is the way in which increasing numbers of businesses (actually more than 40% of the world’s largest and most profitable companies) are making this their reality.
The advent of e-learning
E-learning has made it possible to keep training costs low while simultaneously maintaining the effectiveness and quality of the training you deliver incredibly high.
The localization of e-learning materials delivers the same advantages to businesses with international workforces.
Because many businesses invest heavily in the training resources, they produce for their domestic team.
Ensuring that these resources – which have proven their effectiveness through the success they have brought the company – deliver the same quality of training to international team members is where e-learning localization shines.
One of the main ways it does this is by being incredibly flexible. But there are many others…
Why localize your training materials?
In addition to the boost in productivity, which localization of your training materials will give you, there are also several other benefits in terms of:
1) Brand consistency
More than ever these days, your brand is your business.
And, as you’ll know, one of the core features of any strong brand is consistency. Consistency of brand voice. Consistency of image. Consistency of quality. And the consistency of service.
Properly localized training materials and packages ensure that employees who speak different languages and who grew up in radically different cultures will deliver the same consistent quality of on-brand service which your company has become known for.
2) Team cohesion
Teams that train together stay together.
Even if the shared training experience happens across language barriers and in different countries, employees who went through a consistent training process will find it easier to work together on a day-to-day basis.
Studies and tests on the subject consistently show that learning something in your native tongue makes it:
- Quicker and easier to absorb
- More engaging
- Boosts knowledge retention
- Improves ongoing performance
Effective training leads to greater safety for employees who have all kinds of jobs.
Particularly where physical safety is concerned, training materials which take into account cultural differences in all aspects of their message – only part of which is the careful, accurate localization of the text – are far more effective at getting safety messages to hit home.
5) Attracting international talent
Access the widest possible talent pool with e-learning materials that have been properly localized for multiple target languages and cultures.
Attracting the kind of smart, engaged, motivated employees you want is much easier to do when any potential talent knows that you’ve taken the extra steps to create materials specifically for them.
This goes to show what sort of employer you are.
6) Attracting younger talent
E-learning materials are also heavily enjoyed and engaged with by the younger generations of the workforce.
Younger people have grown up with smartphones, social media, and the widespread availability of video streaming. Taking advantage of these tools to accomplish the technological equivalent of talking to them in the language they understand has been proven to attract young talent across cultures.
Younger generations of the workforce might be used to and desire many aspects of what e-learning can offer:
- Individualized courses
- Short, sharp bursts of learning
- Personal feedback
- Interactive learning methods
- App-based and mobile learning
Companies that want to attract the best young talent will promote the fact that they offer smart, modern learning methods.
This makes e-learning ideal for attracting a part of the workforce, which, increasingly, wants to be given the opportunity to learn.
How to localize your training materials
Once you’ve decided that localizing your training materials is going to be beneficial, it’s time to think about how you’re going to do it:
1) Use a professional translation agency
The increasing prevalence and use of Google Translate and other generic Machine Translation tools for mundane tasks have led to expectations in some quarters that translating complex topics like staff training courses can be accomplished cheaply, easily, and quickly in-house.
Of course, the well-known issue with Google Translate and other similar platforms is that they do not understand the context, they do not understand the culture, and they can only handle a very literal translation of the content which is fed into them. Sometimes, they can’t even handle that.
That’s why it’s so important to use professional human translators to complete your e-learning localization. A skilled human translator will:
- Understand context relating to industry, geography, word use and so on
- Have access to tools which can be used to check the accuracy of translations
- Work with experienced editors and proofreaders who check their work
- Localize your content for culture as well as language
- Be able to maintain tone and brand voice across languages
2) Use training material and subject matter experts
Having a professional team on your side will mean you produce localized training materials that take into account technical language and effective learning outcomes as well as language and culture.
You’ll be looking for two fields of expertise when choosing a Language Service Provider:
- E-learning expertise – a translation agency that has experience in producing training or educational materials will already have tested existing processes for ensuring you get the best results when translating your e-learning materials.
- Subject matter expertise in your industry – a translation team which has knowledge, experience, and understanding of your industry or field eliminates the risk of misunderstandings and confusion caused by things like poor translations of industry terms
3) Do it from the start (have a strategy)
Internationalization is the word used to refer to designing your products with later localization for international audiences in mind.
Sensible e-learning internationalization strategies are worth an article or two in their own right. But, in summary, they involve creating an original version of your course which:
- Excludes culturally-specific references and images as much as possible
- Carefully considers the culturally-specific content of images, animations, and videos – these are the most costly and time-intensive parts of your content to localize
- Uses a dynamic design which will adapt to things like text expansion or contraction after translation
Developing a localization strategy and implementing it from the start will help you minimize the cost and efforts of actually doing it later on.
A good Language Service Provider will always be able to advise you on how to do this.
4) Clarity is all
The clarity of language you use in your original course content should be judged to a fine point of detail.
The more waffle, the more you use terms or make comments which could be interpreted in different ways, the more possibility there is for error during the localization process.
To make your course content as clear as possible:
- Aim for shorter sentences
- Always carefully proofread your content
- Avoid idioms and colloquialisms
- Stay away from humor
- Make relationships between visuals and text clear – especially in animations and video content
5) Quality is all
The clarity in your original content is vital. But so is the quality of the language you use.
Professional quality assessment by your team or by an external eye is vital if you want to ensure that your content conveys the correct information – and that it will have the best chance of doing so when translated into different languages for people from different cultures.
You can assist your Language Service Provider by creating a translation template which further describes and outlines elements such as those links between visuals and text in animations, names for parts of your UI, and other directions.
This will further increase the quality and clarity of your localized training materials.
6) Be consistent
There are two levels where the consistency of the approach you decide on will be vital.
This is true when it comes to both the quality and effectiveness of your course in its original language – and in the languages, you plan to have it localized into:
- The linguistic level – the language you use to refer to specific objects, roles, tasks, and so on throughout your content.
- The structural level – the way in which the files and formats you’ve chosen interconnect. Informing your Language Service Provider where the materials you want to have translated fit into your course as a whole is a vital part of your translation template and of ensuring the quality of your final outcome. A solid structure is vital for any high-quality course. If yours has not been examined by either your in-house expert or an external one, your LSP may be able to help you there too.
Using a professional translation agency for your e-learning – tips
Using a professional translation agency for your e-learning localization is the smart way to ensure that you are going to get the biggest boost in productivity for your team.
To get the best out of using your chosen Language Service Provider, there are a few tips you should bear in mind:
1) Provide context and plans
We’ve already touched on the importance of providing a translation template. Essentially, this is a document of notes and directions – a kind of schematic for how your course fits together across files, formats, and types of media.
In general, the more information you can provide your LSP with, the better. You should consider giving them:
- Relevant source and reference materials
- Glossaries of important terms, abbreviations and so on which might be specific to your industry or even your brand vocabulary
As in many things, maintaining a healthy level of communication with your translation team is always for the best.
The easiest way to end up with an outcome you aren’t happy with is to let your LSP get to work armed with an incomplete set of information.
2) Explain who your users are
One of the key bits of context you should provide concerns to your audience:
Are all of your students going to be new employees of your company? Are they a smaller pool with existing complex technical knowledge? Will they understand acronyms from specific fields, such as sales or technical support?
Decisions as to the type of language to use and what will enhance or detract from the clarity and quality of what is being said will depend on this kind of information.
3) Re-use existing translated materials
If you have already had some sections of text or terms accurately translated – and you are 100% confident that they are indeed accurate and convey the correct message – there is no need to spend money on having them translated again.
If you have any existing translated courses, these may be an (almost literal) goldmine of pre-translated terms, instructional content, GUI elements, and more, which you can re-use.
Using the same translation for the same terms ensures consistency is maintained throughout and across courses – vital for increasing users’ comprehension.
This is such an important part of minimizing translation costs and time taken that the best LSPs use Translation Memories. These are constantly-referenced databases of pre-translated segments and phrases which a professional translator has continual access to via their Computer Assisted Translation tools (the industry-standard software).
By using a Translation Memory, a professional translator will be able to increase the speed of their work. Some LSPs – Asian Absolute, for example – also won’t charge you anything for repeat translations like this. Thus, saving you money.
Start as you mean to go on with your training localization
If you’re creating new training materials and are planning to localize them at a later date, it’s always worth consulting your LSP at the planning stage.
They can help you implement internationalization strategies so that the groundwork is set for straightforward, cost-effective localization at a later date.
Need to know more about the costs and benefits of localizing your training materials?
Asian Absolute specializes in e-learning localization. We translate the training materials of companies in every industry so that they’re just as relevant for employees who speak any native language – and hail from any culture.
Get a free, no-obligation quote or find out more today. We’re here to help you 24/7.