Localization: How to adapt your e-learning course

E-learning localization: adapting online courses

E-learning localization is the process of adapting an online course for students to a specific geographical location. Less than 20% of the Internet population understands English, yet only a limited number of online courses are available in foreign languages. Localizing your content can help you reach students in a fast-growing market and gain a competitive edge in a crowded market.

Once you’ve identified a profitable market for your course, it’s time to build your localization strategy. What is your localization budget? How much time do you have to launch? Will you localize all aspects of your course or just the important ones? Here’s what you need to know to formulate your e-learning localization strategy.

What aspects can be localized?

Translation focuses on text and meaning. There are many opportunities for localization. In e-learning, localization covers:

  • Unit of measure, date and currency
  • Spelling and local expressions
  • Name, example, reference, slander
  • Idiom and abbreviated form
  • Colors and fonts
  • Pictures, images and gestures
  • Music and pronunciation

The following aspects of your course can be localized:

  • Website or application (where the course is presented)
  • Course information and frequently asked questions
  • Reviews and testimonials
  • Community sections and comments
  • Study and reference material
  • Tests and quizzes
  • Video subtitles
  • Video on-screen text (OST)
  • Myth
  • Pictures and graphs
  • Marketing material and supporting legal documentation

How do you decide localization?

In some areas complete localization is required, whereas in others, localization of several aspects is sufficient. To make that decision, you need to consider a number of factors. Here’s what you should consider when making your decision:

1. English skills

Where does the region rank in the English Proficiency Index (EPI)? If the country ranks high in the EPI, you only have to adjust some aspects and leave the others as they are.

2. Cultural match

Will your target audience understand the cultural references and examples of the course? If your course is designed primarily for a German audience, most of the references will be easily understood by students in Western Europe. However, in regions like the Middle East or South Asia, you may have to adapt or recreate something.

3. Cultural sensitivity

Are your students in an area where the culture is completely different from yours? If so, you may need to conduct an audit of your content to ensure that examples, references, names and gestures do not disturb your target audience.

4. Strategic decision making

If you are exploring a new market, you can start by just describing, reviewing and localizing the subtitles. Based on performance, you can invest in voiceover, comment and OST translation. If you see great potential in a region, you can opt for complete localization of your resources.

5. Your target audience age

If your students are in the K-12 or seniors section, don’t just translate your subtitles. For these students, you need to translate voiceover and onscreen text into your local language.

6. Budget

Localizing all aspects of a large course can be costly. You have to decide which resources are most important and give a high ROI. As a rule, translating text is much cheaper than translating audio. Voiceover or dubbing costs five to eight times more than subtitle translation.

7. Timeline

When do you want to start? There are several steps involved in localization, from extracting content and translation to typesetting and linguistic testing. Depending on the time you have, you can cut or add different processes.

8. Compliance

Some countries require you to translate your legal documents, policies and information Your platform or partners may also require you to localize some aspects of your course or supporting documentation.

Human translation or machine translation?

E-learning courses have a lot of content. Using human experts to translate every aspect of your course can be costly and sometimes unnecessary. Most large companies use a combination of human and machine translation to accomplish their goals without breaking the bank! Remember, machine translation output is only good for major languages. If you try to reach students in Tagalog, Georgian, Pashto or any other short language, machine translation is not an option.

How you translate depends on your language pair, audience, budget and timeline. However, there are some best practices to follow in general that can make your decision easier.

  • Marketing content, course descriptions and frequently asked questions
    These sections are important for user acquisition and it is very important to take them correctly These sections should be translated by highly skilled local linguists with marketing / copywriting experience.
  • Tests and quizzes
    If you are offered a degree or completion certificate based on your test results, your question and answer options must be accurate and translated by an expert linguist.
  • Course material
    If the course material is given in a single language document, it must be translated by a human linguist with subject matter skills. If you provide bilingual material where translation serves as a support / reference, the machine can translate.
  • Subtitles
    If you provide subtitles in support of non-native English speakers, you can take machine translated content for the main language. If your students do not understand English, then you need human translated and synced subtitles. If your subtitles are to be used as scripts for human voiceover, they must be translated by a qualified human translator.
  • Myth
    Voiceovers are the most expensive part of localization. There are new technologies that enable automatic voiceover; Depending on your budget, timeline and goals, these may be a suitable option. However, most publishers still use human voiceover artists.
  • Comments, community sections and reviews
    These are usually machine translated because they are not an important part of the buying or learning experience.

To be successful in a new area, it is not always necessary to localize every aspect of the learning experience. You need to understand your target audience and create a strategy that works for them. Don’t be afraid to test and continue testing to find the perfect formula!

Localization processes include translators, proofreaders, typesetters, transcriptionists, voiceover artists, audio engineers, video editors, and project managers. Sometimes, these groups are scattered all over the world. Before you start localization, find a trusted partner who can advise you and help you implement your global project.

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