E-Learning Translation and Localisation Strategies: Three Essential Steps

What does the future hold for e-learning companies?

While providers of online learning experiences – of all shapes and sizes – experienced significant growth during the pandemic, we’re now in a different social and economic era.

There are some concerning developments for the sector:

  • Economic downturns may lead to cuts in corporate learning and development budgets, affecting online learning platforms. In troubling news for staff and the sector, Udemy and Coursera, two prominent platforms, have undergone layoffs in 2023.
  • Online platforms aim to generate revenue from corporate clients for workforce skill advancement – but there are limits to what some companies are willing to pay – and B2C learners who are willing to pay for learning support are fought over fiercely.
  • While online training has become an integral part of corporate culture, accelerated by the pandemic, and allowing employees to learn on their own terms is seen as a plus, there are many available solutions and pressures on pricing.

In this environment, in which the appetite for e-learning is there but shaped by the economic and competitive landscape, there’s a need for firms in the space to attract as many relevant clients as possible.

One approach is to pursue international success, rather focusing on any one market.

In this blog, we will discuss the essential steps that e-learning companies should follow to create successful translation and localisation strategies.

1. Carry Out Comprehensive E-Learning Content Analysis:

Before embarking on the translation and localisation process, e-learning companies should conduct a thorough analysis of their content.

The goal here is to understand the potential scope of the project – and then limit or expand the focus based upon what is practical and achievable. Remember, half-measures are often worse than inaction, so focusing on an end result with localised content that will engage and attract key audiences is essential.

Whether in app format or online, identify the key elements that require translation such as text, images, videos, and interactive elements. Take an exhaustive approach to documenting word counts required, spatial limitations and wider UX principles.

This analysis will help you understand the scope of the project and plan accordingly, while also meaning a translation partner will quote accurately.

2. Engage E-learning Translators – with Formal and Informal Credentials

Partnering with professional translators who specialise in e-learning and interactive media content is essential for accurate, culturally sensitive and practical translations that will enhance, not limit, the customer experience.

Look for experts who are unambiguously proficient in the target languages and have experience in the e-learning industry. Remember that sharing of knowledge is a two-way street so make the time to collaborate closely with them to ensure a deep understanding of your content, learning objectives, and desired outcomes.

Bear in mind that credentials come in many forms: from academic qualifications and ISO certifications and so on, to more informal attributes.

In this case, experience of translating for software, apps, web platforms and interactive media is key – an ‘accurate’ translation that is too long to be used in a user interface is a waste of time and money.

So – take a deep dive with translation partners and take a full assessment of their suitability for e-learning translation and localisation.

3. Reduce Friction and Adapt to Cultural and Linguistic Differences

Translation is not just about converting words; it's about adapting the content to the target culture. Consider linguistic nuances, idioms, and cultural references that might require modification or explanation.

It is particularly important in this sector to ensure that your translations are culturally appropriate and resonate with the local audience to enhance engagement and comprehension.

The reason this rigour is particularly important in e-learning is due to the role that the app or website has – to guide the user seamlessly towards user learning outcomes. If mistranslations are causing friction in the signup process or ongoing use of an e-learning provider, customers will be pushed away – with implications for annual recurring revenue.

So – a seamless user experience is vital for successful e-learning. Adapt the translated content to fit the target language layout, including text formatting, graphics, and interactive elements. Ensure that translated text doesn't overlap or get cut off due to space constraints. Test the localised version thoroughly to ensure functionality, user-friendliness, and an intuitive learning journey.

For e-learning companies aiming to expand their reach globally, effective translation and localisation strategies are indispensable. By following these essential steps – conducting content analysis, engaging professional translators, adapting to cultural differences and prioritising user experience – companies can deliver impactful and culturally relevant e-learning experiences to learners around the world.

Remember, successful e-learning translation and localisation go beyond mere language conversion; they create an immersive and inclusive learning environment that caters to the needs of diverse learners.