Several industries frequently hire international workers, both in a company’s home country and in international subsidiaries. Manufacturing, farming, hospitality, and construction are just a few of them. Localizing your eLearning materials for these workers may seem like an additional cost. It is, of course, but it has many benefits you can’t pass up, and there are options to help keep costs down and increase your ROI.
Your country/province/state/city may have legislation requiring that training be done in your workers’ native language, and there may be high penalties and serious consequences for not complying. In this court case in Canada, for example, the employer was found guilty of not providing a safe work environment, including not providing training in the employees’ native language.
We’re not talking about those high school on/off friends. This is a language term. It refers to words in different languages that have similar spellings but different meanings. A good example is the English word “blessed,” which looks a lot like the French word for injured, “blessé.” Another common French false friend is “journey” and “journée” (day). In German, “links” means “left.”
False friends can contribute to more misunderstandings, because readers may assume they know the meaning and therefore not look up the words…
Receiving training materials in a form they understand can help your workers feel more welcome and more like part of the group. Even in sectors where workers from foreign countries are highly trained before they arrive at your plant, the workplace culture and local laws will be different. Conducting your eLearning in their language will help them perform better, because they’ll know precisely what’s required of them.
This is especially important if workers come from countries where threadbare safety protocols are the norm. Training materials localized into your workers’ languages can help decrease the chances of accidents occurring. Many countries lack the infrastructure to enforce health and safety protocols, and the workers from these countires may need to learn not only about the concept of occupational health and safety in the workplace, but also how they need to comply with your company’s rules.
Localizing your eLearning documents can take several forms, from translating the documents to creating graphics and images to producing videos. You can work with a freelancer or a team of them, or you can hire a language services provider. Read our blog post on freelancers vs. language services providers for a more in-depth discussion on the topic.
If you’re considering a language services provider to translate and localize your training documentation, be sure to ask if it has expertise in your area. You’re looking for a provider that has in-depth knowledge of your industry and the culture the documents are being localized in to.
A good language service provider will point out potentially confusing areas and suggest ways to improve the original documentation to better benefit your workers. Does your company reimburse employees for certain safety equipment, maybe steel-toed boots, for example? Many companies around the world don’t reimburse for safety boots. A worker who comes from this background may not realize he can afford the boots and may wear his own, worn, unsafe footwear instead. A strong language services provider can point out these details, because it has in-depth knowledge of the language and culture you’re localizing to.
Almost everyone shovels. Whether it’s snow in the winter, or mounds of fresh dirt in warmer weather, shoveling tends to be a seasonal activity and comes with news reports warning people of the dangers of shoveling improperly. When you listen to these news reports, this is what you’ll never hear:
When shoveling, it’s imperative that, upon thrusting the shovel into the pile of softly frozen water crystals, the subject flex the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus in order to avoid lumbar strain.
That almost seems like a different language, doesn’t it? It’s really just a complicated way of saying it’s important to bend your legs when you shovel snow; otherwise you’ll hurt your back. Employees whose native language is not your company’s native language will have a similar experience when reading documentation. A small percentage will understand it, some will get the gist of it, and many may not understand it at all.
Localizing your company’s documents will increase your workers’ understanding of the material, help them perform better, and help them and others stay safe.