Culture Soup

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Do we need to localize?

Omni Intercommunications - Wednesday, August 09, 2017

For companies relying on a non-English speaking workforce, the decision to translate their training content is not always straightforward. Answering these 6 simple questions may help in the process.

Consider the following if you are unsure as to whether or not you should localize your training programs or at least some of them.

  1. Does your audience speak, or at least understand, English? Some foreign employees likely do, but the majority probably do not. So who are you trying to reach? Do not assume everyone speaks English.
  2. Is the majority of the content applicable, in whole or in part, to your target audience?  Note that this does not even have to involve translation since labor laws, customary usage, procedures, etc. are usually different from country to country.  It is common practice that some sections are adapted or simply removed.
  3. Do you have a legal obligation to provide the program in the local language?  Some countries, like Canada, require all materials (training, documentation, signage, etc.) to be in the official language(s).
  4. Do you have a legal motivation to provide the program in the local language? With safety training for instance, it’s likely that a course deployed in the non-official language would not be admissible in court in case of an accident.
  5. Does the size of the audience justify the cost of localization? Keep in mind that a given course does not have to be localized the same way across all the languages needed. An experienced localization company should be able to offer different approaches to fit various budgets. You may refer to this white paper on audio-video localization, an important component of localization cost.
  6. What image do you want to project to your foreign language speaking employees?  This final question may be the most important because even though many people speak English across the globe, most prefer to use their native language.  A localized training course is less susceptible to be perceived as a “Push from Corporate” and therefore more likely to be received favorably and adhered to.  As a side note to this point, all training development should involve the local personnel to some extent to give them a sense of ownership, as well as to give them the opportunity to provide feedback on points 2 and 3 above.

The next step: Some software is more conducive to localization than others. If you determine that localization makes sense, design your courses knowing they will be localized. This will save money and prevent headaches in the long run. Again, an experienced localization company should be able to assist you in the process.

For a more detailed discussion, give us a call at 800-777-2304.

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