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Why You Should Localise Your Elearning Content

By Neil Gauld, 

eLearning offers an affordable, convenient and time efficient way for people to learn or train online. By using electronic resources accessed through the internet, it is possible to learn anytime and anywhere, making eLearning a great choice for companies or bodies that operate internationally. However, simply translating your eLearning materials from one language to another isn’t enough: it needs to be localised so that it is adapted to a specific market, including everything from using correct monetary values to acknowledging cultural sensitivities. Here are six reasons why you should localise your eLearning content.

Reaching a Broader Audience

By localising your eLearning content you will be able to reach a broader audience. Rather than just being able to engage with English speakers, you will be able to interact with other regions, whether that’s to increase your revenue or upskill employees abroad. Whilst localising your content will cost more money upfront, the investment will pay off when more people are able to access it. By using relatively simple language in your source material, you will make the process of localisation quicker and easier.

Improved Engagement

Properly localised content is accessible to a far greater number of people and will vastly improve engagement. Localisation gives your messaging a more personal feel and makes it relevant to people in different local markets throughout the world. By speaking to people in a way they recognise and feel comfortable with, engagement will be hugely improved. It allows you to connect with eLearners who don’t speak your brand’s native language, which resonates with the increased desire of consumers to seek personalised experiences from the companies they spend their money with.

Increased Cultural Relevance

Being relevant to your customer base is crucial for your business to succeed. Localisation enables your eLearning materials to reach a multilingual audience with much more success than a basic translation ever could. It ensures that your materials are culturally sensitive and don’t include anything that could be offensive or insulting for a particular culture. Localisation goes beyond language and takes into account everything from colours to symbols to gestures. For example, for many cultures the ‘thumbs up’ gesture is a positive one, but in Bangladesh it’s the equivalent of giving someone the middle finger. Details that seem small or irrelevant to one person can be hugely important to another. Alienating a whole culture will have a negative impact on your company, so it’s important to iron out these details before rolling out your eLearning offerings.

Successful Design

One very important element of localisation is design. On top of language and being sensitive to cultural differences, it’s vital to make sure that all the other elements of your materials have been localised too. These include:

  • Numeric, time and date formats
  • Use of currency
  • Symbols, icons and colours
  • Graphics and images that could be misinterpreted in different cultures

Getting these things wrong is a very fast way to alienate your customers and put them off your eLearning content. Even something as seemingly harmless as a colour can make a difference. For example, many cultures and countries associate the colour yellow with happiness and warmth, whilst in Germany it is associated with envy. White is associated by Western cultures with purity, elegance and peace, whilst in China, Korea and other Asian countries it is the colour of death, mourning and bad luck. Mistakes like these are very easy to make but could have a hugely negative influence on your company or brand.

Another design issue to look out for is that of layout. If you don’t localise your design, but instead simply translate the words and use the same layout, you will quickly come up against the problem of text expansion and contraction. Different languages take different amounts of space to convey the same information meaning that your carefully designed layout will no longer work. On top of this, some languages are read right-to-left instead of left-to-right, which can play havoc with your layout. By localising the design of your content from the very beginning you won’t come up against these difficult and potentially expensive problems. Text expansion will also affect video materials that are subtitled, so those should be localised as well.

Boosting Sales

If you are selling your eLearning materials, you achieve much higher sales if your content is localised. By making sure your content is available in the native language of your target market you will have a much bigger reach than if it is not available or available but poorly translated. If your eLearning material does not target a global market you will lose out, as there is another company out there that has made the effort to localise their offerings and are reaping the financial rewards. Sales will be further boosted through customer retention: if people trust you to provide them with information that has been specifically tailored to them, they will return again and again. They will also recommend your company to others, which will have a hugely positive effect on your brand image.

A Successful Multinational Workforce

If you procure eLearning content for a multinational organisation you will want all employees to receive exactly the same training, in respect of both content and standard. Even if your international employees all speak English, offering them localised training is more effective and will increase their engagement with the material, retention of the knowledge and their subsequent performance. International talent will be more attracted to companies prepared to go the extra mile when it comes to localising training materials and other communications, which will ultimately benefit your business. Properly localising your eLearning content offers an excellent return on investment and makes it easier for multinational employees to work successfully and profitably together.

Conclusion

Localisation is much more beneficial than basic translation as it takes into account cultural sensitivities, potential layout issues, and elements such as numbers, time, dates and currencies. By properly localising your eLearning materials you can reach a broader audience, improve sales and unite and engage international teams.

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