When creating eLearning material for regionally diverse audiences, it is important to take into account the need for localization and translation. So how can you localize your content to ensure it resonates well with different audiences?
While translation focuses mostly on the specific language being used, localization is a more comprehensive approach that adapts content to suit each target region. This process considers both the language and culture of the learners.
Localization is an important part of the translation process, as it ensures your content is appropriate for each audience. It takes expertise to get it right, which is why working with a professional translation company could be the difference between success and failure. However, if you’re looking to gain hands-on experience, here are some tips you can use to create eLearning content for audiences across cultures.
1. Use universal images instead of words
Usually, the content being created goes beyond just paragraphs of text and includes graphics, video, audio, or other parts of the Graphical User Interface. It’s a good idea to discuss the extent to which these aspects of your platform will be localized at the beginning stages of the process.
However, to simplify the source content, you should look to use universal images rather than text when applicable. For example, try just inputting the symbols for play, pause, and stop rather than writing the words in English. You should also make sure that other images on your site don’t have text layed on top of them. Each of these techniques will ensure that your translators work as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
2. Allow users to select their language
eLearning content designers should aim to create a user friendly interface, and an important aspect of that is allowing users to select their preferred language. This feature can also be designed so that learners have the option to change the language later on in the process. This enhances ease of use, so visitors can focus on the content rather than deciphering a tricky interface.
3. Consider the target language and culture
An additional way to create a user friendly interface is to think about the language(s) in which your source material will be localized. As a relatively analytic language, English words are often shorter than words in more synthetic languages.
If you are translating into a language like German, for example, you will want to make sure you leave lots of blank space in the original English content so that it will still fit neatly on the page once translated.
Additionally, you will want to take into account some of the cultural aspects of your audiences. Things like colors and symbols can have different meanings in different cultures, often making them challenging for translators to appropriately adapt.
4. Avoid humor, slang, and idioms
It’s important to capture the appropriate tone and nuance of your audience during the localization process. Using things like humor, slang, and idioms or metaphors can make that task significantly more labor intensive and leave room for error. Simplifying the source material will make it easier to include appropriate cultural references for target audiences later.
5. Use internationally accepted formatting
In the vein of simplifying your content, it is a good idea to use internationally accepted formatting for things like dates, times, and addresses when applicable. This will help avoid any unnecessary confusion and make your localization job faster and more accurate.
Localization is a detailed process with lots of room for error, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the process. It is essential to hire a professional translation service that is skilled in localization for your eLearning platform. This will help ensure that your end product is as accurate as possible, reducing the need to re-do the work. Communicating with global audiences is one of the exciting challenges in today’s business world; benefit by taking the time to localize your content correctly.
Author: Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.