Three Best Practices to Create Effective Localised e-Learning Content

Share Article -- The convenience factor of e-Learning has made it the standard method of training for many businesses.

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Those who employ e-Learning programmes must ensure the concepts being presented are fully understandable by all their learners.

The convenience factor of e-Learning has made it the standard method of training for many businesses. Whether available via the Internet or in a multimedia format, e-Learning courses can be delivered to anyone, no matter where they live or work. Businesses find e-Learning tools to be extremely effective for employee training and also as a means to help customers better use the products they purchase.

Those who employ e-Learning programmes must ensure the concepts being presented are fully understandable by all their learners. Often, this means that the e-Learning content must be localised for overseas learners.

The following best practices can be helpful in creating localised e-Learning content that is engaging and understandable for all intended audiences.

1. Make Textual Content Clear and Readable
Content creators typically remove colloquialisms from content that will be localised. However, steps must also be taken to eliminate direct references to terminology specific to the country of origin. For example, terms such as Social Security number or national insurance number should be omitted unless their reference is absolutely necessary. Also, to account for varying levels of education in different countries, content should targeted to an average reading comprehension level between grades 6 and 8. Writers should also use shorter sentences and bulleted lists to simplify content.

2. Design the Course Format to Aid in Comprehension and Display
When working with multilingual eLearning content, it’s important that all character sets can be displayed. One way to ensure this is to employ Unicode (UTF8) encoding as a standard. Also, language translation can cause the text to expand—sometimes by up to 20 per cent—so it is important to leave sufficient white space around text and images. If text boxes are included for user input, they should be designed to either expand or provide enough space to accommodate different languages.

3. Review Visual Content for Potentially Confusing Images
Images can be very effective in communicating an idea, but only if the target audience understands the meaning behind them. Images such as hand gestures, for example, may be symbols of encouragement in one culture but might be highly offensive in another. Other commonly overlooked images include road signs and currency symbols. If the images are necessary to create clarity, make sure they are interchangeable for different cultures so that all applicable audiences can understand the content.

Also, to eliminate confusion, graphic elements used in localised course materials should not contain embedded text unless that text will be translated as well. This includes any buttons used to navigate the course materials.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal injury rates for foreign-born Hispanic workers were 69 per cent higher than for native-born Hispanic workers, because the foreign-born workers had to focus on interpreting safety training materials instead of focusing solely on the content.1 This statistic can be applied to any training environment. Taking the time to translate training materials and eliminate cultural references or biases will help increase learners’ comprehension and retention for longer periods of time.

Full Text:

1 Hale, Terry. Knowledge at Work. Web.

About Merrill Brink International
Merrill Brink International ( is a leading provider of complete translation and language solutions for global companies and law firms, with special expertise in serving the legal, financial, life sciences, software, heavy machinery and corporate markets. A proven leader with more than 30 years of experience, Merrill Brink offers a wide range of language solutions including translation, localisation, desktop publishing and globalisation services.

Merrill Brink is recognised in the industry for its commitment to quality and its pioneering approach of leveraging technology to reduce costs, eliminate redundant processes and accelerate translation life cycles. Merrill Brink is certified to ISO 9001:2008; ISO/IEC 27001:2005 and ISO 13485:2003, and compliant to EN 15038:2006 and ISO 14971:2007. Together, these standards provide assurance that the most stringent process and quality standards for translation are followed. Merrill Brink International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merrill Corporation.

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Vanessa Lontoc
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