Translation and localisation in eLearning

The burgeoning eLearning sector demands content that genuinely connects with an increasingly global audience. Two indispensable processes in achieving this are translation and localisation.

Translation vs localisation: Understanding the difference

While translation and localisation contribute significantly to making your eLearning content universally understandable, their methodologies, objectives, and outcomes differ. Understanding these differences is crucial for effectively leveraging both processes to create eLearning content that resonates with global audiences.

The role of translation in eLearning

Translation in eLearning plays an instrumental role in widening the audience reach by breaking down linguistic barriers. Translation involves converting the content from the source language into the target language(s). The primary goal is to communicate the same information to a new audience using a language they understand.

For instance, an English software development course might be packed with valuable insights and cutting-edge information. However, its impact is limited if it’s only accessible to English speakers. By translating this course into Spanish, we extend its accessibility to millions of Spanish-speaking learners across the globe, from Spain to Latin America, thus creating more inclusive eLearning content.

Professional translators, with subject matter expertise, are typically employed for this process. They ensure that the translation is accurate and seamless so that the content is understood by the new target audience. However, the content itself does not incorporate any changes during this process.

The role of localisation in eLearning

Localisation goes a step beyond translation. While translation focuses on linguistic adaptation, ensuring the information content is retained. Localisation focuses on wider cultural adaptation. It’s about customising the eLearning content according to the cultural norms, values, societal expectations, and market-specific requirements of the target audience.

In the context of our software development course, localisation might involve more than just changing the language to Spanish. It might require adjusting images, design elements, or even the content structure to better resonate with the local audience. For example, the currency might be changed from dollars to euros for Spanish learners, and examples or case studies may be replaced with those that are culturally relevant and familiar to Spanish speakers.

Localisation ensures that the eLearning content does more than communicate information. It connects with the learners, improving their engagement and enhancing their learning experience. Professional localisation teams, which include translators, cultural consultants, and design experts, work together. They deliver a learning experience that feels custom-built for each specific audience, regardless of their geographical location.

Setting the stage for eLearning translation and localisation

For any eLearning project, starting off on the right foot is crucial. Both translation and localisation require careful planning, resource allocation, and time management.

Translation: The starting point

With translation, your first step is identifying the languages your eLearning content needs to be translated into, depending on your target audience. Next, you need professional translators who not only excel in the languages but are also proficient in the subject matter.

The translation process often involves:

  1. Content Analysis: The translation team analyses the content to understand its context and subject matter.
  2. Translation: The translators convert the content into the target language while retaining the original meaning.
  3. Proofreading and Editing: The translated content is then checked by another linguist for errors or inconsistencies, and refined so as to read as naturally as possible.
  4. Quality Control: The final stage involves a rigorous review to ensure the translated content is accurate, consistent, and meets the required quality standards.

Localisation: Going the extra mile

Localisation requires a more in-depth understanding of your target audience’s cultural, societal, and market norms. You need a team of language and cultural experts who can adapt your content to resonate with the local audience.

The localisation process often involves:

  1. Cultural Assessment: The localisation team analyses the cultural attributes of the target audience.
  2. Content Adaptation: The team adapts the content to align with the cultural, societal, and market norms of the audience.
  3. Visuals and Design Localisation: All visual elements and design components are modified to meet local aesthetic preferences.
  4. Testing: The final localised version undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it appeals to the local audience.

Both translation and localisation demand close attention to detail, deep cultural understanding, and high linguistic competency.

Navigating the Challenges in eLearning Translation and Localisation

As beneficial as translation and localisation are in globalising your eLearning content, they are not without challenges. Here are a few common hurdles and potential solutions:

  1. Cultural misunderstanding: This happens when the content creators lack a deep understanding of the target culture. Engage with cultural experts or localisation specialists to avoid cultural faux pas.
  2. Linguistic nuances: Direct translations can often fail to capture the essence of the original content. Skilled translators who can handle language nuances and idioms effectively can help mitigate this.
  3. Maintaining consistency: It’s crucial to keep the training message consistent across all translated and localised versions. Make sure to use translation and localisation teams who work together to maintain the course’s core message.
  4. Managing resources: Translation and localisation can be resource-intensive, demanding significant time and effort. The solution? Plan your project meticulously, keeping enough buffer time and allowing for possible challenges.


While they serve complementary roles, translation and localisation are each critical to creating effective eLearning content. To create truly global eLearning content, consider your translation and localisation strategy. If you need help making your courses linguistically and culturally appropriate, consider enlisting the support of professional language service providers who specialise in these areas.

Looking for translation services?

Our global translation services help companies distribute content to other audiences across the world. Whether this is information in documents, web content, product or marketing campaigns, or audio-visual media, our team of experienced, industry-qualified translators offers an exceptional level of service.

Did you know?

Global Lingo has one of the largest pool of linguists in the industry. Everyone is a native speaker in the language they are translating into, and we can translate into and from 150+ languages. So, whatever your project, whatever the language, Global Lingo can help.

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