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Localization, Not Just Translation, for Effective Global Corporate Training

Corporate training, at least the way we envision it here at Allen, isn’t a conduit for transferring information to a learner but needs to reflect the culture of the organization behind it as well. For international corporations, a strong sense of corporate culture can infuse employees a sense of inclusion and belonging.

But employees and companies are also shaped by the culture around them. There is no singular, static organizational culture; especially in international corporations, it’s necessary to ensure the training connects to the learner not just as an employee, but as a member of the larger society as well.

As they expand into the international arena, clients often come to us for help, and we take them through a process we call localization. We help clients take the core values and expectations for their training and make them more relevant to a specific audience.

The most obvious localization change is to the language in which the interactive elearning course is delivered. The course elements must be translated and verified and, in the case of narrated courses, the audio files for the course must also be re-recorded and re-engineered. Recently, we translated a multinational insurance client’s corporate training into 28 languages, including 2 versions of Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese and Russian.

Localization is more than simply changing the language, however. Images in the course can be removed or added according to what’s appropriate for a specific audience. It’s crucial to work with members of the target audience to help determine which aspects of the course are truly “global,” and which aspects need to be more finely tailored.

For a localization project, Allen follows a rigorous process to ensure target audience members have a chance to weigh in on all relevant details. Our experience has revealed some best practices for this process:

• Consistency: It’s key to ensure all markets/groups are getting same level of individualized input. We’ve created a set of standard documents with which we always start the process, and these records are invaluable both in ensuring we get all the documents and information we need and in building a relationship of trust with the client.

• Customization: Clients can request additional services to ease the localization process. For instance, most often, a client localizing a course provides audio files and input to us, but at other times, a specific market may request that we coordinate with our vendors to translate the course and create and engineer the audio files.

• Communication: Nothing about the process works if we can’t achieve a shared understanding of what’s expected. Patience and willingness to help all team members succeed at a localization project are absolutely critical.

Localization projects are fun and challenging to create and, more importantly, are more applicable and meaningful to the learners who experience these courses.

Learn more about Allen’s training consulting.