Have you ever cooked in an unfamiliar kitchen? Maybe you’d just moved into an apartment, or you were cooking at a friend’s place. You probably needed more time because the unfamiliar surroundings presented obstacles to you: No, the dishes aren’t here; they’re over there. Wait, which drawer is the cutlery kept in again?
If your eLearning modules for your international roster of customers are in only one language, they’ll have the same experience you did working in a strange kitchen. They may need to keep looking up words or pressing rewind to hear something again. Moreover, many of your customers won’t be fluent in English, so the training material will be that much more difficult for them to comprehend.
Localizing your eLearning training material can help. Here’s how.
What Is eLearning Localization?
When you localize your eLearning materials, you’re translating not just the language of the materials, but also the culture they’ve been created in. Essentially, you’re rearranging the kitchen to suit your customer instead of demanding that your customer gets used to your kitchen.
Localization is more than just word-for-word translation. For example, if a training video shows a sales rep greeting the customer by first name only, this might show trust and friendliness in North America. However, in other cultures, it could be the equivalent of saying “Hey, you!”
Some cultures also prefer less animated body language. If a training video has a more animated speaker, he or she may actually look comical to people from these cultures. They probably won’t take the speaker seriously.
On the flip side, if the speaker stays very still, and the video is intended for a culture accustomed to more expressive speaking, viewers may quickly get bored with the training video.
Culturally Insensitive or Progressive?
What if a clean energy company has expanded into a new country and is trying to sell its services to homeowners? It wants to use an online eLearning video to show customers how to sign up for its services. To explain the process, the company places an actor in a kitchen, a room inthe house that typically consumes a lot of energy.
The actor’s job is to demonstrate how easily customers can switch from their existing energy provider to this new one. Usually, a woman appears in North American commercials that take place in the kitchen. However, the company wants to brand itself as progressive and therefore places a man in the kitchen.
But what role does gender play in other countries? A man in the kitchen may be taboo or even suggest that the woman of the house can’t cook. In the end, the company will probably have a hard time selling its energy.
The best solution to this scenario is to get the eLearning localization partner involved at the conceptualization stage of the project. His or her input would help the clean energy company design a video that would easily travel across cultures without costing the company a lot of money.
If you put the effort into properly localizing your eLearning material for your customers, not only will they better understand what you actually want to say, but you’ll come across as knowing what they actually need: a company that understands them and knows how to speak to them.