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eLearning Localization: How to Adapt your Educational Content for a New Market?

eLearning Localization: How to Adapt your Educational Content for a New Market?

January 27, 2022
Vladimir Lysyk
Engineering Team Leader
Reading time is 9 minutes
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E-learning content localization can be useful for schools and universities as well as for business tasks related to a corporate environment, sales, marketing, etc. E-learning content can be presented in different forms, including educational platforms, websites, applications, video courses, or textbooks. If you want to enter the international market with a multilingual e-learning product, then your content may require localization. What should you choose: translation or multi-step localization? How can you avoid mistakes and what should you pay attention to? Read on to find the answers.
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At a first glance, translation services may not seem complicated. Some people think that specialists simply translate texts into the target language. However, the process is much more complex. The use of content in different target markets implies more thorough preparatory work.

Difficulties in Translating E-Learning Content

On the one hand, when translating educational material, linguists should be proficient in the target language. Learning implies specific terms that must be translated correctly. Moreover, teaching materials should sound native. Otherwise, students will have to wade through stylistic flaws and spelling mistakes instead of learning what they actually need.

Language barrier

On the other hand, texts in your learning materials should have a suitable tone of voice. Before getting started, you should answer the following questions:

  • What country do students live in?
  • What is the age of the target audience?
  • What are the areas of activity or employment of these people?
  • What is their learning objective?

A deeper understanding of your audience will allow you to bypass the cultural barrier. You will speak the language of your students, which will improve their learning experience.

Cultural barrier

When you are sure you can avoid language and cultural barriers when translating learning materials, you need to choose the appropriate approach to working with them: e-learning translation or localization. Let's discuss what they are and what you should consider when choosing between them.

E-Learning Translation vs Localization

eLearning materials to translate
Working with content begins with translation. In this case, we mean literal translation: you have several texts in one language that needs to be translated into another. You are engaged only in the translation of the text itself, without going into stylistic details and thinking about its audience. Here are some of the types of content to translate:

  • quizzes: tests, surveys;
  • videos: tutorials, cartoons, lectures;
  • games to diversify the online learning process;
  • whitepapers: reports, proposals;
  • presentations: lectures, tasks, course information;
  • case studies: stories, challenges, examples;
  • guides: helpful information;
  • tables, graphs, and charts with necessary data.

Translation

The common sound of musical instruments also differs in various countries. Make sure that the background music doesn't confuse your listeners. For example, an accordion will sound more familiar to a French audience, but Italian people will more likely recognize the sounds of the mandoline.
Music
This point is simple: use the flag, the emblem, the anthem, and other symbols of the country for which you are localizing your content.
Flags and emblems
There is someone outstanding in every country: famous people, movie and cartoon characters, scientists. If it's possible to mention a local actor instead of a Hollywood star, you should do so. For instance, if your targeted audience is Spanish, then you can mention Penelope Cruz instead of Angelina Jolie.
Celebrities
To make the content as native as possible, study the national dishes of the target country if this topic is covered in the material. This way, students will see something close and will focus on online learning rather than looking at food that is new to them.

On the contrary, if you have a language course, it's better to show students some cultural aspects: for example, in lessons about food in the Chinese language course.
Food
People around the world dress differently, and what is the norm for some is unacceptable for others. Study this question. You may need to change footage and images.
Clothes
Idioms, like humor, can often be untranslatable. Try to find a worthy analogy in the target language not only to convey the desired meaning but also to make the text more native. For example, an English expression "Piece of cake" (something very simple) can be translated into French like "Simple comme bonjour" (simple like hello).
Idioms
In some countries the date looks like dd.mm.yyyy, while in others it's yy.mm.dd. Incorrect writing of the date can sometimes cause a misunderstanding of the material, especially if it's directly related to the main topic.
Date Format
Weight, height, length, speed vary from country to country. Find out what units of measure are used by native speakers of the target language and integrate them into the text. For example, use kilos and kilometers for Russians, but pounds and miles for Americans.
Units
Some jokes may be based on untranslatable wordplay. Make sure that jokes are not translated verbatim. Help the target audience understand them. If it's impossible to translate a joke while retaining the comical element, just leave the meaning you wanted to convey to students.
Humor
There are 159 currencies in the world. If your content is related to money, convert numbers to local values to make it easier for people to understand costs. Besides, prices in different corners of the planet may vary, so consider recalculating them.
Currencies
This is where the fun begins: you need to work with every detail of the text to make it close to what a target language native speaker would write. There are different levels of e-learning localization, which vary depending on the client's goals and objectives:

  • Level 1: simple localization.
This is the cheapest localization method. Its main purpose is to translate a set of materials sufficient for online training. In this case, text in images and videos is not localized. Instead, the translation is given in the body text or as external subtitles.

  • Level 2: full localization.
This is the optimal localization method chosen by most e-learning companies. Its main purpose is to localize all the e-learning content: text in images, audio tracks, and other elements.

  • Level 3: full localization + product adaptation.
In this case, the materials will look as if they were originally created in the target language for a specific market. In addition to localization of materials, new multimedia content and rewriting of scripts may be required. In this case, graphic elements and texts that don't correspond to the target market are replaced. These are people, flags, currency, architecture, and others.

We have collected the main elements of educational materials that are worth paying attention to:

Localization

eLearning localization steps
We approach the localization of any type of content professionally and pay attention to every detail. Our work with e-learning materials is divided into several stages so that the result is clear.

E-Learning Localization Stages at Palex

At this stage, we discuss with the client the strategy for content development, choosing the target market and audience, the tone of the company's voice, and other details. We also choose what will be included into the training materials.

1. Gathering the Content

When all the materials are collected, we need to understand the big picture. For example, if it's an online course, we will need to list the lessons and determine their content. This will allow us to estimate the amount of work and collect all the materials in one place.

2. Analyzing the Project

Training materials often contain specific terms. Therefore, our work will involve a glossary, where you determine the accurate translation of the terms used. This will help avoid mistakes and make the texts consistent. We will also use a style guide for a similar purpose. This document helps define stylistic features and makes materials more consistent.

3. Creating the Glossary and a Style Guide

During the preparation of the product, different opinions may arise on its content and approach to it. We'll discuss key details so that the result satisfies the customer and meets the requirements of the market at the same time.

4. Discussing the Project

When it comes to working with educational content, linguists may need a deeper understanding of the product: e-learning platform, site, or app. This will help them translate texts better and understand how some materials relate to others.

5. Communicating with Linguists

At first, we translate a small part of the text and make sure that our vision matches the vision of the client. If the client is satisfied with the quality of the localization at this stage, we take on the rest of the materials.

6. Sampling the Translation

At this stage, professional linguists translate the content, such as texts, audio, video, or images. During the process, they keep in mind the cultural nuances of the target audience. If necessary, our specialists create subtitles or new audio tracks and edit pictures and videos.

7. Translating and Localizing the Content

When everything is done, we share the result with the client. Thus, we can discuss inaccuracies and, if necessary, make corrections. This stage is another opportunity to ensure that the result meets the client's expectations and, at the same time, the needs of the target market.

8. Reviewing the Result

At this stage, we perform final spelling and styling checks using our tool Verifika. We also check glossary compliance, file formatting, and perform other final touches. Besides, a native speaker conducts an in-context review to ensure the quality of the translation is at its best. Thanks to this, the text fully corresponds to the customer's requirements and cultural features of the target audience.

9. Controlling the Quality

The material is ready! The client can publish it in the required form: on a training website, on a corporate platform, in an app, or anywhere else. The content meets all the expectations of the target market, so there's no need to fear for its success.

10. Delivering

Some features of the materials can take a huge amount of time and effort. No one is to blame: these are the characteristics of different languages, texts, and content. We've collected several types of content that can be challenging. Before starting your e-learning product localization, you should know about these features. In some cases, the localization company will have to remove or change these parts of content, and if not, you'll have to allocate more time for them.

What Else You Should Consider When Localizing E-learning Content

Cutting text out of an image and inserting a new one can be tricky, especially if you have a detailed background picture and lots of text. In this situation, it's better to create an image from scratch or move on without it, if possible. Otherwise, you will need to set aside enough time and find a specialist who can process the images.

Text on Images

If there's a lot of slang in the material, it can be difficult to translate it, because you will have to check every word in the dictionary. Some may simply not be found. Avoid excessive use of slang or compile a glossary to make the translation process easier.

Slang

If your content contains anecdotes, keep them simple. Often such stories are based on wordplay or cultural differences of native speakers, so localizing them will be difficult or even impossible.

Anecdotes

Cutting texts from videos and replacing pictures in them is even more difficult than working with images. You will need an experienced editor or even an entire film crew to create a new video instead of changing the old one.

Videos

Before submitting materials for localization, make sure that all materials are clear. If a contractor can't understand the words in the audio or video, then it will be impossible to translate them, and you will have to replace or cut out some information. This will negatively affect the quality of the localized content.Take a look at the company's clients and their feedback. While it is not so important for a company to work with big names like Pfizer, if a company has testimonials and reviews from companies in the same field as yours, they might be a good fit for you.

Unclear Recordings

If your content contains multiple voice-overs, you should expect localization to cost more and take longer. Your contractor will have to find the same number of speakers with knowledge of the target language, so that their voices match the original parameters, such as gender or age.

Voice-overs

Wrapping Up

Now you know that the e-learning localization process is not just translation of educational materials. This is a large-scale and complex work that would be difficult to do well without the help of professionals. Experienced linguists can help you avoid common mistakes. Consequently, native speakers of your target language won't distinguish your e-learning course or platform from one made in their country.

Palex is a professional language services company. We have been on the market for 20 years and work with over 80 languages. Our clients value our attention to detail, timeliness, and localization quality. To get started localizing your existing content, email us at sales@palexgroup.com. We will be glad to help you reach a global audience with your educational product.
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