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E-Learning Localization: What It Is and Why You Need It

Friday, November 11, 2022

E-learning has exploded as the primary channel for training new and existing staff. Even before COVID-19 expanded remote work, the adoption of e-learning across all sectors had accelerated. Since 2011, roughly 80 percent of employers have used online learning.

What Is E-Learning Localization?

Localization is a process that goes beyond the translation of text. Localization also addresses aspects of how information is presented—layout, images, and color; cultural information that is relevant to the target audience; units of measurement; currencies; among others.

For e-learning, these considerations apply a broad scope of content types that may require localization (video, voice-over, interactive assessments, controls, and navigation). It’s not enough to simply translate readable text users may see in their browsers. Proper localization ensures that trainees in other parts of the world will have the same experience as the original audience.

What Parts of E-Learning Courseware Require Localization?

Depending on how you design your e-learning courseware, these features may be in scope for localization:

  • Textual content
  • Voice-over
  • Videos (voiced or with subtitles or captions)
  • Interactions (quizzes, tests, simulations)
  • Software interface (navigation, index, courseware controls, search function)

Which Audiences Will Benefit From Localization of E-Learning Courseware?·

E-learning localization for corporate users. At the corporate level, providing localized e-learning content for international staff to train them on new processes or what to expect during a reorganization, or to inform them about new safety requirements and regulations is vital to worker performance.·

E-learning localization for frontline staff. For manufacturers and customer support staff, e-learning localization is critical because they require detailed training on new tools, safety procedures, material handling, or policies and processes to support customers.·


E-learning localization for students. If you are working in academia, you know online learning has become a critical learning environment for both remote and in-person learning. Localization will be needed for courseware, syllabi, and course catalogs.·

E-learning localization for new hires. E-learning is an efficient channel for delivering new information to new hires. Localize your e-learning to help new international employees feel supported and improve the effectiveness of your onboarding training related to benefits, codes of conduct, corporate policy, and critical processes.·

E-learning localization for compliance training. Compliance training is one of the most common applications for e-learning. It provides a standard, traceable platform to ensure everyone in an organization has completed a training. Localization is critical because compliance requirements vary by region for legal purposes.·

E-learning localization for resellers. Much like compliance training, you need to make sure resellers representing your organization and products in international markets have up-to-date information about products and changes to warranties and service policies. Again, localization plays a critical role in ensuring that local market requirements are translated completely and correctly and use the right information for the target market.·

E-learning localization for product demos. If you want international customers to know you support their region and language, show them with a localized product demo.


What Are the Benefits of E-Learning Localization?

By making the investment and taking the time to localize your e-learning courseware, you can expect a good return on your investment—the benefits include:

  • Higher user satisfaction. Users (be they students, employees, or customers) will feel supported and appreciated if e-learning is in their native language.
  • Better learning. Learning in one’s native language is more effective than relying on a second (or third) language to complete a training. Retention will improve, and the rate of learning will speed up.
  • Better market penetration. For the reasons listed above, creating localized e-learning for resellers and customer demos will result in better market access. Selling will be more efficient, and customers will be more receptive to your products.
  • Employee retention. With a commitment to e-learning localization, your employees’ satisfaction and job performance will improve. Both result in higher employee retention—critical in the current labor market where job mobility is higher than ever.

How Do You Choose an E-Learning Localizer?

Localizing e-learning software is a complex process and requires a broad range of capabilities from text translation, to video voice-over, and editing to the mastery of many different tools, such as the e-learning publishing software where your courses are houed.

Depending on the e-learning publishing software you use, localizing can either be easy or very cumbersome. Not all e-learning authoring software supports localization well. Some tools make it easy to export all the translatable text into a standard format that localizers can easily work with. Other authoring tools use proprietary formats that pose barriers for localization. Make sure your localization provider has demonstrable experience creating localized versions of courseware in your preferred authoring software.

How Much Does E-Learning Localization Cost?

An experienced e-learning localizer will be able to provide you with a quote or at least an accurate estimate for localizing your courseware.

These factors will affect the cost:

  • Number of languages needed
  • Total translatable word count
  • Amount of repetition in the content
  • Number of media assets (videos, audio, images)
  • Number of interactions
  • Amount of testing and quality control needed for the localized versions

If you have e-learning that would benefit from localization, engage a localization partner early to help guide your choice of authoring tool and design for international audiences, and help identify content relevant for international markets.

About the Author

Scott Bass, principal of LocFluent Consulting, has been active in the language industry for over 30 years. Scott was formerly the founder and owner of Advanced Language Translation, Inc., a technical translation and localization specialist company, which he established in 1994. In 2015, he sold his company to Morningside Translations, one of the fastest-growing language service providers in the U.S. Most recently, Scott was Vice President for Morningside’s Professional Services Group, where he focused on onboarding new clients, building the foundation for strong client relationships, and ensuring customer satisfaction.

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