Multilingual e-Learning


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Learn how to make sure your courses are designed with localization in mind, allowing you to quickly adapt courses into new languages and deliver them to students anywhere in the world.

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  • Hello everyone and welcome to todays webinar on Multilingual eLearning. My name is Rob Davies, I’m the Marketing Manager here at Milengo and I‘ll be presenting today. I‘m also joined by Jodi Harrison, VP of Marketing from Interactyx. Today we’re going to be talking about Multilingual eLearning and some of the strategies and best practice you can use to make sure your international eLearning programs are a success.
  • Just so you know, this webinar is being recorded so you can access it again at a later date, and we’ll also be making the slides from the webinar available too. Details of how to access the recording and the slides will be emailed to you after the webinar.We’ll also have a Q&A session at the end of the webinar, within the gotowebinar window there’s an area where you can submit questions. If you have a question during the presentation feel free to go ahead and submit them. I’ll keep an eye on questions during the presentation and we’ll try and answer all of them at the end.Lastly a downloadable guide will also be made available that covers the strategies and best practice we’ll be covering today.
  • So before we start I just want to give a quick introduction to what we’ll be covering today.First of all we’re going to look at the anatomy on an LMS. Jody from Interactyx will give us an overview Topyx and then talk about of the benefits of managing your multilingual courses with an LMS. Next we’ll have a demo of Topyx and show you how multilingual courses can be set up and managed, then finally Jodi will cover language support in a more detail.After that I’ll cover how to prepare your course for hand over to a Localization provider and follow that with details of how the localization process works, for those of you who may be looking into this for the first time. Next we’ll cover the review process and how to make sure your localized courses have been properly adapted. And finally a quick reminder of what you need to cover before publication. At the end we’ll run through any questions you might have.So without further ado, I’ll have over to Jodi for an intro to Topyx.
  • Thanks Jodi, so now I’m going to talk a little bit about how to prepare your course for localization. Before I dive in I’d like to give you a bit of background as to how localization can make a difference with a quick example. Now, for many of you, like me, English is your first language, but let me ask you this, would you know the difference between International English, American English and British English, and how much of a difference do you think it would make to a native English speaker which flavor of English their courses are delivered in?Well, we did some work for a very large client, the people who invented Mickey Mouse, and they had a corporate eLearning course that they were looking at localizing into a number of different languages. All their source material had been authored in the US in American English and they’d been running the course for a while with their UK and US employees but found that engagement was lower in the UK than the US. We recommended that as part of the localization process they look at languages on a more granular level. By that I mean in Latin America for example there’s a big difference between Colombian Spanish and Mexican Spanish, there’s difference in accent, local expressions, even words in some cases. And this ultimately has an impact on how a piece of content is perceived and understood. So we recommended to our client that they localize their course from US English into British English, and guess what? Their course uptake and pass rate jumped almost 30%. Language style and voiceovers were adapted for British English, course content was checked for cultural relevance, pictures and graphics were adapted to be more ‘British’. The whole course was delivered as if it had been developed in the UK. So this is just one example at the granular end of the scale that shows language is not enough when designing courses for learners in different countries, and even the smallest differences between language flavours or locales can have a huge impact. So, what can you do to make your multilingual courses more local?
  • Now before you even begin the localization process you need to review your course and decide what content needs to be localized. What is global? What is Local? A company logo or strapline may be global or it may vary from country to country. Images may also be locale specific, for example pictures of American employees might not make sense for a course adapted for the Chinese market.What is company specific?If your company has brand or style guidelines it’s always a good idea to make these available to your Localization provider as they will help keep consistency across course content. If your company has a particular linguistic style, usually relevant to sales and marketing text, how will this need to be carried across in the localization process. Understanding what is global, local and company specific will help shape the localization project.
  • Well, first start with a plan, this might seem obvious but there are a number of things that should be considered once your course ihas been created.First and foremost, make sure you know who needs to be on hand during the localization process to help with review of translations, to answer technical or course specific questions, and I’ll cover this in more detail in a second. Decide who’s going to be responsible for managing the project, work with your Localization provider to define a workflow and most importantly, document the process so everyone involved knows exactly what’s expected of them.Understand what technology and tools are used to create the course. If you're using an LMS like Topyx or content creation tools like Captivate, make sure you understand how to automate the import and export of content since you don't want to be copy pasting translated text in and out of word documents, it will drive you crazy and is also a great way to ensure errors! Next you’ll need to look at all the assets that your course contains. Make sure that you include all documents and files that are relevant to your e-learning course and if in doubt ask your localization agency to help with an asset audit.Another thing that needs to be taken into account is the differences between languages and locales. For example, just choosing Spanish for the South American market, might not be relevant. This is because Spanish spoken in Mexico, is very different to Spanish spoken in Columbia. As I mentioned in my previous example, the local flavours of language are very important in influencing how effective your localised e-learning course will be.Finally, you’re going to need people to review your e-learning course. Ideally this would be your in-country training team, or end users of the e-learning course that are fluent in the local language and culture. This is something that I will explain a little bit more detail next.
  • So lets look at this point in more detail. The success of your localization effort is going to depend heavily on making sure everyone involved in the creation of your existing eLearning course is available and aware of the localization process. The people who produce your course content will have done so with their home audience in mind and will probably have a good idea of the intended students, however all this will change when adapting courses for a new language.Therefore you need to involve your authors and Subject Matter Experts. For example, your original course might concern HR policy and your legal team have checked it to ensure it complies with employment law in the US. Therefore you’re going to need legal input for all your localized versions as employment law may be different in your target locales. A good solution is to find out who your legal teams counterparts are in each country, if you have in-country legal teams, and ask them to look at the source material and how best to adapt it for their language. They should also be included in your review team for localized courses to provide sign off at the end.In another example you have product experts in the US who contributed technical information to your course, find out who their counterparts are in your target locales as they will know best how to adapt technical information into their language. Engaging with your in-country colleagues like this is important as their input and feedback will help guide your localization provider when crafting translations and adapting non linguistic elements so your final courses look like they’ve been created in-country. Review of the final courses should also happen in-country if possible and it’s important to assemble review teams that are linguistically competent and understand the task at hand. I’ll cover this later in more detail.Finally, your end users are the most important part in the chain since they’re the motivation behind localizing your courses in the first place. You may also want to test and review localized courses with a prospective student before publishing them as your students may highlight areas that have been overlooked.
  • So, now you have a plan and you’re ready to hand off everything for localization. You’ve exported your course from your LMS, what next? Make sure you include all supporting information with your course. By this I mean course flow charts and diagrams, workbooks, policy documents and any other information you've used to create the course. Having a detailed overview like this is makes it much easier to adapt text and other elements since it will be clear to your localization provider from supporting information how and why they’ve been created.Next, and I can’t emphasize this enough, make sure you also provide editable source files for all your course assets. For example if your course books are PDF docs, make sure you find the original files these PDF’s were created from, they could be InDesign files, Word Docs or others, the important part is that the files are editable. Why is this? Well, with an editable source files in InDesign your localization provider can quickly and easily replace text with translations, leaving layout, fonts graphics and other design elements intact and deliver the file back ready for you to publish. If you can’t provide editable source files like this your localization provider will have to re-create layouts and graphics from scratch which takes extra time and costs money. This is applicable for documents, graphics, video and audio files and also Flash. When exporting Flash content make sure you provide the .fla editable files as well as the .swf files.
  • So now your you’ve gathered all your course assets and handed them over to your localization provider, I want to talk a little bit about the process and what happens next.
  • First I want to look at text and graphics.As I mentioned before there are a number of ways you can ensure fast and accurate text translation. First of all, when you create your course, make sure you use high quality standardized language, try to avoid idioms and colloquialisms and aim for easy comprehension in your source language. This will make it easier for translators and minimize linguistic queries. For example, in content developed in the United States, the phrase “hit a home run” would be clearly understood in the US market as “to be successful/achieve a goal.” However, if the term is translated literally, it has no meaning to a non-English speaker. If you use specific company language for your products or services you will want to keep this consistent across translations. Therefore consider working with your Localization provider to build a glossary or terms base. This is important if you refer to product or service functions as there may be a number of different ways to translate them, defining a standard term avoids confusion.Next, and this is an important one, when creating your course, and especially if it’s text heavy, make sure you leave enough room in text containers for translations. Consider this, translated text can expand by up to 50%, an example is the German word for ‘tram stop’, there’s no other way to translate this than ‘Strassenbahn Halterstelle’ which is significantly longer than the English word. If you don’t allow adequate space for text when building your course it can get cut off or require DTP or engineering work to create or adapt layouts to make text fit.Next, watch out for hardcoded text. This normally text that’s actually part of a graphic file like a .jpg or .png. If you have a lot of text heavy graphics in your course like signs or symbols make sure you provide the original Photoshop or Illustrator files so your localization provider can edit and replace the text. If you just provide ‘rasterized’ or flat graphics files they may have to be recreated from scratch.Finally if you’re localizing into Hebrew or Arabic you’re going to need to adapt layouts for left to right text. Again, if you can provide editable source files with all your course assets this is a reasonably easy thing to do and your localization provider can often automate this. For Chinese, Japanese and Korean and other double byte languages you’ll need to pay attention to typesetting and layout since characters are displayed very differently to the roman alphabet. Again these are all areas your localization provider can help with.Special mention also needs to go to Malasian ( tagalog) and Indian fonts since these don’t conform to Unicode standards. This means that they can display very differently across operating systems and devices as well as screen and print. Again this is another area your localization provider can offer advice.
  • So now we’ve covered text and graphics lets look at multimedia. Many eLearning courses include video and when localizing video you need to decide weather or not you’re going to provide a voices over, subtitles or completely reproduce it with local resources. For example, if your course includes a segment from your CEO you probably won’t want to provide a voice over since viewers will know that’s not their voice. If it’s important to foster a connection between the viewer and your CEO you’ll probably want viewers to hear him or her speak in their own language with their own voice and provide subtitles. This provides a more natural experience for the viewer. There are exceptions though. In Germany for example almost all foreign video content is dubbed so these kind of decisions may vary between locales.For audio content you’ll need to rerecord voiceovers or narration in the local language. Make sure you give your localization provider the original scripts for translation first, otherwise all your audio content will first have to be transcribed, costing extra time and money. Here it’s important to pay attention to accents and dialects since they may have very different perceptions amongst your audience. For example, if your course is being localized for Argentina, Chille, Peru and Columbia, you may be able to provide a single audio file normalised for ‘Latin American Spanish’ but this might not be as effective as adapting a version, complete with local accent and dialect for each specific each locale. With flash files as before, it’s important to provide editable source files, otherwise animations and other interactive content will have to be re-engineered from scratch. Another important consideration with flash files in particular is the file and directory structure you use. When building your flash content make sure you minimize the repetition of common elements. Often in eLearning content, elements will be repeated on each page, (for example: the “Next” and “Previous” buttons). If these elements are integrated on each page, then the equivalent localized version has to be integrated - which increases engineering time. However, if these repeated elements are contained in a common repository/page template, then the elements only need to be replaced once. That way, when the original file is updated it will update in every section its used in. If this isn’t done your localization provider will have to manually edit every instance of this graphic in your flash file, again costing time and money. Another thing to take into account with Flash is directory structure. If you have many flash element in your course, authored by different people, make sure there’s a common directory structure between elements. For example, if you store audio files in a folder named ‘audio’ inside and ‘assets’ folder, make sure this is the same structure in each flash element. This makes finding and replacing assets inside flash files much easier and minimizes impact to your code.Finally the question of timing. This is an issue that often gets overlooked, we’ve certainly run into this on previous projects. If your interactive course elements are time dependent, for example a voice over runs and an animation is triggered at the end of a sentence, make sure you include timings with your scripts, or indicate timings with tags in your flash files. This is important since translated text and voiceovers will need to be adapted to fit. Overlooking timings can cause problems down the road and ultimately confuse students, so make sure your localization provider is aware of them and that they’re factored into the translation process.
  • So now your project is well under way, many of your course elements have been translated and they’re ready for review. With many large complex projects the review process can be staggered, as course modules or course elements are completed, they can be reviewed and amendments made as required. Once these are complete, all elements can be collated for a final round of review before publication. Here I want to talk a little bit about the importance of review and how to make sure it’s successful.
  • First and foremost, set review guidelines. Your localization provider can help you with this. It’s important that the people who review the localized versions of your courses understand what the review covers. This might be linguistic accuracy only, with style and tone left unchanged. If the use of specific translations has already been agreed upon, in the case of terminology for example, it’s also important for your reviewers to know this. Another important consideration is to give your reviewers content that is ‘in context’, make sure the translations that are reviewed are in their final layouts complete with graphics and other associated non linguistic elements. A word doc full of translated text is much more difficult to review than a course workbook with graphics and other contextual content.When assembling your review team it’s important to make sure your reviewers are checked for linguistic competence since you don't want errors introduced at the review stage. Localization providers will usually have a standard process and a small test to help review your reviewers. Make sure your SME’s are involved in review, both those who authored your source content and their in-country counterparts. This is vital since they are the experts on the course content and will be able to spot inaccuracies specific to your company, products, policies etc that our translators might not be aware of. Another area your in-country teams will be able to provide valuable input is in the area of cultural norms and customs. A good example of this was an eLearning course we localized for a well known global hotel chain. They were looking to provide standardized training for their front of house staff and one course module covered how to greet new guests to the hotel. The course was being localized into Japanese and therefore carful consideration was given to the differences in custom between Japan, and the US where the course was produced. By consulting with management in Japan we were able to tailor produce tailored video content and accompanying text perfectly adapted to the Japanese market. Something we would not have been able to do had their Japanese teams not been involved.
  • So now you’ve been through review and feedback, your localized files have been delivered and everything is ready to publish. At this point ask yourself, has everyone signed off? Has everyone who needs to given their seal of approval? Make sure that every detail has been covered before you publish since correcting errors after the course has been localized can be very costly. For example well known example came from a a company that produced courses for the the driving test market. They expanded globally very quickly before realizing they had some very serious localization issues. Their courses taught that the center lane is the safest on a multi-lane highway, but that is untrue in Dubai, where the center lane is used exclusively for passing….Once the company got negative feedback, it “had to redo what already was in the market,” The company spent about $1 million over 18 months revamping its existing product line, honing language dialects and local driving habits.
  • Now you have a number of fully localized courses ready for your international employees or students. You’ve planned and executed successfully and avoided the common mistakes and pitfalls others have made and best of all you’ve achieved all this on time and on budget.So that concludes my section, now over to the floor for questions.
  • So lets have a look at the questions.Ok so that’s all the questions for today
  • Well that wraps things up for today. I’d like to thank Jodi from Interactyx for joining us and demonstrating the benefits of using an LMS to manage your multilingual eLearning content. You can find out more over at and of course for more information about all aspects of translation and localization head over to our website, And we will of course email everyone who attended once the recording and slides are available.Thank you.
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