This guest post was written by Scott Bass, the principal of LocFluent Consulting. Scott 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.

eLearning has exploded as the primary channel for training of new and existing staff. Even before the impact of COVID on remote work, the adoption of the eLearning platform across all sectors had accelerated. Since 2011, roughly 80% of employers have used online learning1

What is eLearning localization?

Firstly, localization is a process that goes beyond machine 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 measure, currencies, etc. 

For eLearning, these considerations apply in addition to a broader scope of content types that may require localization services (video, voice over, interactive assessments, controls, and navigation). It’s not enough to utilize translation software and simply translate just the readable text the user may see in their browser. Proper localization ensures that trainees in other parts of the world will have the same experience as the original audience.

What parts of eLearning courseware require localization?

Depending on how you design your eLearning course, the following 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 eLearning courseware?

eLearning localization for corporate users

At the corporate level providing localized eLearning content for international staff to train them about new processes, what to expect during a reorganization, or to make them aware of new safety requirements, and regulations is vital to worker performance.

eLearning localization for front line staff

For manufacturers and customer support staff, eLearning localization is critical, since they will need detailed training material on new tools, safety procedures, material handling, or policies and processes to support customers properly.

eLearning localization for students

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

eLearning localization for new hires

eLearning is an efficient delivery channel of information for new hires. Localize your eLearning content to help your new international employees to feel supported and improve the effectiveness of training about important onboarding information related to benefits, codes of conduct, corporate policy, and critical processes.

eLearning localization for compliance training

Compliance training is one of the most common applications for eLearning. It provides a standard, traceable platform to ensure everyone in the organization has completed the training modules. Localization is critical since compliance requirements could vary by region for legal purposes.

eLearning localization for resellers

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

eLearning localization for product demos

If you want international customers to know you support their region and language well, the best way is to show them in a well-localized product demo—just another kind of eLearning.

What are the benefits of eLearning localization?

By making the investment and taking the time to localize your eLearning course, you can expect a good return on your investment…

  • Higher user satisfaction - It stands to reason that users (be they students, employees, or customers) will feel supported and appreciated if their eLearning is in their native language.
  • Better learning - Learning in one’s native language is simply more effective than having to use a second (or third) language to complete the training. Retention of what has been learned will be improved and the rate of learning will be faster.
  • Better market penetration - For the reasons listed above, localized eLearning for resellers and customer demos will result in better market access, since selling will be more efficient, and customers will be more receptive to your products.
  • Employee retention - With a commitment to eLearning 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.

Choosing an eLearning localizer

Localizing eLearning software is a complex process and requires a broad range of capabilities--from text translation, to video voice over and editing, and mastery of many different tools—such as the eLearning publishing software that your courseware is in.

Depending on the eLearning publishing software you use to develop your courseware, localization of it can be easy or very cumbersome. Not all eLearning authoring software supports localization services well. Some tools make it easy to export all the translated content into a standard format that localizers can work with easily. Other authoring tools use proprietary formats that are a barrier to localization. Make sure your choice of localization provider has demonstrable experience creating localized versions of courseware in their portfolio using your preferred authoring software.

How much does eLearning localization cost?

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

The factors that affect cost are:

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

If you have an eLearning and development software that would benefit from localization, engage a localization partner early to help guide choice of authoring tool, design for international audiences, and scope of content relevant for international markets. 

For a no obligation localization assessment of your eLearning courseware reach out to