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eLearning Localization: Why, What, and How

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Local Concept exhibited at the 2019 DevLearn Conference & Expo where learning and development professionals share the future of work and learning. The global work force is expected to reach 3.5 billion people by 2030, leading millions of people from across the globe to work together. Consequently, multinational companies need localized content to suit the languages and cultures of their internal audience, especially when it comes to training key resources.

We will walk you through why you should localize your eLearning courses, what is usually localized, and how to prepare your content for localization.

eLearning localization: Why, What, and How

eLearning Localization: the process of translating learning content and platforms into a different language and adapting it for a specific region. 

Why localize eLearning courses?

Studies show that translating training content boosts knowledge acquisition and increase retention rate. Localizing online training content goes a step further, helping to bring your company’s values even closer to your global workforce by aligning ethnic, geographic and cultural sensibilities.

  1. Mitigate risks

    It’s easy to assume that English works for all. Just because someone speaks or writes in one language, it does not mean that they have the ability to fully comprehend the information. OSHA estimates that language barriers are a contributing factor in 25% of job related accidents. The cost of a compliance breach for an average company is over $9 million. This is nearly triple what the average compliance training program cost.

  2. Improve Performance and Productivity

    When the culture of learners is taken into consideration, it’s likely that they’ll find the content more engaging and relatable, which helps improve employee satisfaction. For instance, let’s say you are delivering a sales training course on body language for your sales team located across different continents. While your U.S. sales reps picture a salesperson shaking hands with the customer after a meeting, the same image would probably not be as effective for your sales reps in Japan where greetings take form of bowing. Leadership and sales courses are topics that are open to interpretation. In order to help trainees make the most of your course, accurate cultural reference localization is essential.

  3. Grow your global footprint

    When employees are engaged, you can more effectively hire, train and retain teams that help drive expansion.

What is usually localized?

eLearning takes many different forms, from interactive quizzes and assessments, to articles and videos. The most common elements that need localization include:

  • Written content
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Images and Graphics
  • User experience elements (navigation buttons and coding)
  • Formatting (date, time, currency, units of measurement)

With that in mind, we will show you how to save time and money by planning for multilingual content from the beginning.

How to plan for multilingual content

Here are 6 helpful tips to consider when preparing your content for localization:

  1. Avoid slang, idiomatic expressions and acronyms

    It will make the process more straightforward, which in turn will help your language partner deliver the project faster. Try to use simple language and shorter sentences, especially for straight-forward content such as technical training, and health and safety assessments.

  1. Keep text expansion and contraction in mind

    When translating from English to German, the text expands by 10% to 30% on average. In contrast, when translating into Mandarin, text may contract by 20% to 50%. This becomes a challenge when it needs to be featured in pre-designed slides, turned into voiceover, or inserted into video. Dealing with text that contract is generally not as much of a problem as text that expands. With languages that expand, it may look crowded. Thus, keep in mind how the translation would fit in and look when presented in its final form. In terms of video, provide your partner with extra footage so the scenes can accommodate for longer voiceover. In terms of visual elements, allow enough white space around speech bubbles, call outs and other text elements.

  1. Consider graphics and images

    Localization includes carefully choosing culturally appropriate colors and images. For instance, the color white tends to symbolize purity and peace in Western cultures (North America and Europe) while it represents death and unhappiness in Eastern and Asian countries. If your eLearning course contains interactive assessments with navigation buttons (i.e. next, close, submit), tooltip speech bubbles, and any pre-programmed visual elements, make sure to include XML files so these snippets can be extracted, translated, and imported back into the eLearning software.

  2. Provide editable files

    Provide all eLearning content to your language partner in editable formats to ensure translations can be incorporated easily, and to save you the cost of having to re-create the files from scratch.

  3. Choose the right language partner

    The best-suited translation company is one that can take care of the entire project from start to finish. At Local Concept, we make use of the latest technological advancements to get you more for your money in a timely manner, such as Translation Memory (TM). This is beneficial when dealing with on-going projects over a long period of time as it ensures consistent translation and shortens turnaround time. We can work with any platform or format you prefer. We integrate directly with your LMS and perform final testing to ensure that delivery is superb. Lastly, Local Concept ensures that your company-specific terminology and approved translations are used through our client-specific glossary.


Naturally, when people are taught in their native language, they learn, understand and retain information better. By understanding your target audience, the effectiveness of your course increases. The ROI of eLearning localization is not just about the numbers, but the non-quantifiable results and impacts. It has proven to reduce lost time, improve employee retention, accelerate productivity, and mitigate injury claims.

Do you need help getting started with your eLearning localization? Contact us today for a free consultation!