In her book “The Good Company," Laurie Bassi found that the best single predictor of a company’s ability to outperform its competitors is the amount of investment made in training and developing employees.

The remarkable growth of remote training since the term “eLearning” was coined in 1999 has been driven by globalization, the internet, the proliferation of smart phones, and myriad tools to create and manage remote-learning courses.

If your organization is facing the additional challenge of delivering effective distance learning and training across time zones, cultures, and languages, here are a few key concepts to keep in mind:

1. Learning and comprehension is far more likely when content is delivered in the learner’s native language. This should come as no surprise – just imagine trying to learn new concepts in a language that you don’t fully understand. If you want to make sure critical concepts are fully understood, make sure the learner is getting it in their native language.

Work with a professional language services provider that is well versed in eLearning translation and localization and has learned the tips and pitfalls that come from years of experience.

2. The trifecta of localization is “Cost, Time, and Quality.” Impacting one will directly affect the others. Striking the right balance is critical for success and is best achieved through consultation with a professional language services provider.

3. The primary drivers of eLearning localization costs are word count, localization engineering, and voice over. Decisions made during concept, design, and storyboard will directly impact processes, cost, and efficacy downstream. A solid understanding of the localization process, as well as a trusted partner with localization expertise, can avoid costly mistakes and add significant value.

4. Oftentimes costly delays are caused by a client-side subject-matter expert’s in-country review process. Managing this process and the reviewers is vital for a smooth and timely delivery.

5. Cultural sensitivity is essential when dealing with a global audience. Avoid humor, slang, or idioms that may not translate into other languages and cultures, such as ‘speak of the devil’, ‘wrap your head around that,’ ‘pulling somebody’s leg’, etc.

6. Avoid or define acronyms by fully writing out the acronym so that it is understood when used later in the module. Alternatively, just avoid using acronyms altogether, as they are very difficult to replicate in another language, much less multiple languages.

7. Allow ample white space for text expansion or subtitles if video is used. Assume that text will expand by 20-30 percent when translating from English. This will impact formatting and layout, especially for bi-directional languages that read right to left or languages with stricter rules around hyphenations and line breaks.

8. Video is a powerful and popular medium for training but presents a whole set of challenges on its own. If video is a preferred medium at your company, make sure the concepts are universal and that locations, characters, currencies, etc., are relatable to a global audience and not exclusive to any group. On the technical side of things, mitigate cost of voiceover by avoiding or limiting the use of on-screen speakers and thus the need for timed lip-synching of multiple characters.

9. Leave space for subtitling if the module is not too text heavy and avoid putting important visuals in the bottom part of the screen. Limit or avoid the use of complex animations of any on-screen text and make sure any graphics or images have live editable text.

10. Finally, avoid the need for transcription by saving a copy of the script for translation. Recognizing the possibilities and respecting the challenges of globalized training will empower organizations and talent from all cultures to work together and become greater than the sum of their parts.

LanguageLine® Can Help

LanguageLine has been the world leader in innovative language-access solutions since 1982. The company sets the global standard for phone, video, and onsite interpreting, as well as translation of the written word. LanguageLine is trusted by more than 30,000 clients to enable communication with the limited English proficient, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities. LanguageLine provides the industry’s fastest and most dependable access to more than 35,000 professional linguists in 290-plus languages — 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Please do not hesitate to contact us!

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