Six Tips to Developing Learning Content for a Global Audience

Online LearningLearners need high quality materials to properly engage and retain the knowledge provided through any type of learning program. Developing these materials for a global audience can bring a number of challenges. Course materials must be effective for the breadth of your learning audience, regardless of their geography. We have compiled six tips to help learning developers and content creators author materials for a global audience.

TIP #1:  Consider Localization and Translation at the Planning Stage

Considering your localization strategy from the outset helps learning organizations focus on the true audience and ultimately improve the user experience and reduce translation costs. Learning organizations benefit from being fully aware of all target audiences and languages, so they can develop the learning content for a global audience and take steps to ensure the localization process is efficient and integrated at the earliest stage of material development. This includes the planning and identification of all aspects of the localization process, such as translation, terminology research and cultural research. Preparing a file for localization should include tasks such as:

  • Ensuring the general format and layout of a document is ready for localization and translation
  • Using consistent terminology
  • Text expansion
  • Timing and synchronizing audio

You can read more in the Welocalize white paper: Ready Your Learning Content for Localization to Save Money and Improve Experience.

TIP #2: Keep Terminology Consistent and Simple

Simple matters. The best content will be understandable to a wide range of users around the world. Keep terminology simple also allows for easier and more consistent translation. Any complicated language, colloquialisms, jargon, acronyms or local humor increases the risk of incorrect and out-of-context translations. When authoring content, think “universal” context.

TIP #3: Check Imagery and Color

As well as linguistic aspects, consideration must also be given to imagery and color of learning materials destined for a global audience. This is to ensure successful translation to other cultures, without losing or changing meaning of the learning experience. This means avoiding the use of region-specific symbols and images, and also consider the regional differences in meaning, particularly if an image has any potential for bad interpretation or negative connotation in a certain area of the world. Learning is often digital and uses a lot of images to show examples. Even a background in a video can be disruptive to a learning experience, if it is culturally offensive in any way. All elements, digital and in word format need careful review. The best practice to to rely on images that are culturally neutral and do not need to be replaced no matter how they are viewed and no matter the language.

TIP #4: Video and Audio Files

Educational and learning course materials are often heavy in multimedia, audio and video content. It can be costly to reproduce multilingual versions of video footage, using new scripts, voice and acting talents. There are a number of lower cost options available to localize video. For example, subtitling or text-to-speech (TTS) technology are driving a lot of changes in the localization world. Significant advancements have been made in TTS in recent years, making audio track localization much easier, as well as lowering costs for buyers. Scripts can now be loaded into TTS software, which adds a synthetic voice, turning written text into phonetic text. When creating source video and audio content, consideration needs to be taken to ensure extra time is allowed for voice over language expansion and appropriate space allowed for when developing video content for subtitling. For more information on TTS, read Welocalize blog Text- to Speech Localization for Global Brand Marketing.

TIP #5: Provide Source Files to Your LSP

Most files need to be prepared for translation and localization. This means ensuring all source files are accessible and editable for translation and localization purposes. Certain course materials may include diagrams or cartoons. All source (editable) graphics files must be available for translation. Keep source files organized and easily accessible to the localization and translation teams, keeping a list of all files and content types to streamline your workflow, reduce costs and improve efficiency.

TIP #6: Consider the Impact of Learning Material

It is important to take into account what the content is designed for and the purpose it needs to serve, whether it be a corporate output for a global sales team or a partner accreditation program. The purpose of material and the impact it is expected to have on your global audience will have a significant effect on how translation and localization projects are managed and formatted. High impact materials may need more time and budget to get the localized content to the highest standards.

Welocalize specializes in learning and education translation and localization for multinational businesses, compliance and regulatory groups, global training providers, CLO’s and traning development departments as well as the general  e-learning and education market round the world. Click here for more information on Welocalize services to the global learning and education sector.


Matthew Johnson is a member of the Welocalize global sales support and marketing team.