Establishing eLearning For Multilingual, Multinational Corporate Training

The Need For Multilingual eLearning Programs
Olivier Le Moal/
Summary: As the digital nature of business and life continue to expand exponentially, it will become increasingly common to use a multilingual approach when developing eLearning courses online.

How To Establish eLearning Methodologies For Multilingual, Multinational Corporate Training

Between the technological revolution and the recent global medical crisis, more people than ever before are resorting to eLearning and even working and shopping online. There is also an increase in freelancers working online and business process outsourcing, making even many domestic corporations an international and multilingual concern. How can these international interests create and promote eLearning materials for continued training and operations? How can eLearning content creators adapt to such a diverse market?

Business Process Outsourcing And The Need For Multilingual eLearning Programs

Even as your life is seemingly returning to normal in the post-pandemic world, you may see some very notable and important changes. An increasing number of businesses around the world have resorted to business process outsourcing in order to focus on the ability to retain business continuity, while at the same time being able to focus on growth and expansion. The concept of business process outsourcing and its advantages is such that there is an extended opportunity for the business in terms of savings, stability, and business continuity in operations and customer relations.

It is interesting to note that business process outsourcing is still largely focused on the ability of the business to outsource non-essential business functions. As the digitization of business continues, business process outsourcing has come to include substantially more vital business operations. The ability to offshore production, the ability to hire more inexpensive labor and even administrative operations overseas and other business savings opportunities have taken many domestic operations and turned them into international operations requiring a more nuanced approach to eLearning.

There is a rather long but very informative article on the ZDNet website where they discuss the increasing frequency of business process outsourcing, approaching the subject from many different angles. In their view, what they deem to be “XaaS” or “everything as a service” in terms of business operations, will become increasingly prevalent in the digital age. This, by necessity, already and will continue to include multilingual interaction even within domestic industries with a focus on the benefits of XaaS resourcing:

The next logical step from traditional outsourcing is to embrace the "everything as a service" or XaaS model, in which all manner of business processes are delivered over internet connections as cloud services. The benefits are familiar, including a shift from capital to operational expenditure on IT infrastructure, greater flexibility and scalability, and access for SMBs to enterprise-grade applications such as ERP and CRM that are managed, secured and frequently updated by the service provider.

And it's not just IT support that's being outsourced by SMBs. A 2019 survey of 529 small business owners and managers by B2B research, ratings, and reviews site Clutch found that 37% of small businesses (<500 employees) outsourced at least one business process, and over half (52%) planned to do so going forward. The most commonly outsourced business tasks were "technical" ones, such as accounting, IT services, and digital marketing.

International And Multilingual Administrative Operations

In the early phases of full business operations that need to be outsourced, there will be administrative tasks that may require a level of instruction or that may simply need to be translated into the native language of the new administrative personnel. It cannot be merely accepted that because someone is capable of carrying on a conversation in your native language, or their “L2” or second language, that they have a sufficient understanding of legal or other concerns of business.

Professional translation services are a preferable choice for business document translations, as they have legal standing. This is every bit as true when hiring a freelancer to write content as it is for official company policies. If you leave anything open to interpretation, the lawyers will generally be more than happy to interpret everything in any way they can for litigation.

Likewise, even professional translators may have the occasional challenge, and presuming that anyone without any industry-specific and linguistic training will be able to fully comprehend every subtle hint of language can be costly for the business. Any of the relevant business documentation translations should be conducted by professionals in order to reduce any legal liability and to ensure that there are no translation errors.

International And Multilingual Requirements For Logistical Support Services

The operational training for shipping and receiving is complicated enough on its own. Add in the fact that there are two or more languages in the ongoing operations, in addition to other language requirements for the legal documentation required for imports and exports, and it should be easy to see that training is required before these processes can be outsourced or off-shored.

Fortunately, all of these areas can also be covered through eLearning programs that are specifically tailored to the needs of the people who will be performing and managing these operations. These types of eLearning training courses, however, also require the presence of someone equally familiar with the language pairs involved, as well as being familiar with all of the legal terminology that will be required in this area of work.

Legal document translations for import and export paperwork is not the only area of concern. Depending on the products, owner manuals and other paperwork included with the product may require translation before the product can be legally imported or exported as the case may be.

In regard to this particular area of logistics however, much of the work may be outsourced to shipping companies or others within the logistical supply chain. Once again though, there may be an ongoing need for live communications, even if through the use of remote video interpreters in order to facilitate business continuity and operations.

International And Multilingual Operations Training And Ongoing eLearning Training Programs

There are many jobs that require continual training, re-certification, and have other requirements for ongoing educational requirements ideally suited to the use of eLearning courses online or within a localized system such as an intranet. This type of eLearning solution for large corporations may be domestic, but this does not mean that the eLearning programs will be monolingual in nature.

According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 350 languages actively spoken in the United States alone, and more than seven thousand languages in use in the world today. This is especially true in larger metropolitan areas where large corporations are more likely to conduct business operations. Add in the propensity for large corporations to outsource and offshore to other nations and even the most basic eLearning courses may need to be established in multiple languages.

In the LA metro area, some 54% of the population uses English as a second language. These numbers are repeated throughout the United States including 51% in Miami, 40% in San Francisco and Riverside, California, 37% in Houston, 38% in metro New York, and on and on. There are areas along the Southern border of the US where English is rarely, if ever, used in everyday operations.

Even in terms of domestic eLearning programs, it may very well be necessary to establish a more multilingual approach to reach the entire audience effectively and in a manner that allows all of the participants to learn from an equal footing. As society becomes increasingly digital in nature, it is likely that the preferred languages will continue to change with an increasing need for eLearning programs made available in languages other than English.

Translation, Localization, And eLearning Course Development

Translation and interpretation services may be a given when creating a multilingual eLearning course but there is more to the inclusion of foreign language students that should also be considered. The term “localization” is frequently associated with marketing and talking to people, not only in a language that they can understand but also as a means to establish a personal connection to increase the ability to successfully market to a specific demographic.

Localization takes into consideration any potential conflicts that may be attributed to cultural sensitivities or taboos and even the cultural sense of pride and tradition. Any time that there are foreign language students in eLearning programs, care must be taken in order to establish a course load, including course materials and any multimedia references, that will not offend potential students within the course.

How To Build A Multilingual eLearning Corporate Training Course

1. Find A Certified Translator And Interpreter

If you are ordering dinner and make an error in translation, you get the wrong meal, have a laugh and there are no major problems stemming from that which was lost in translation. In terms of business process outsourcing or commercial operations, there is no room for translation errors. Business document translation services and interpretation services for live communications may sound challenging, but often provide numerous benefits for those engaging in business process outsourcing or offshoring as the case may be.

2. Localization Of eLearning Course Development

There are other factors to consider when establishing eLearning courses for multilingual, multinational corporations. It is always going to be important to take any local cultural factors into consideration in order not to offend the eLearning student body. This is true for the selection of both instructors and course materials. A little research may be necessary, but it is a small price to pay to ensure more students are satisfied with the eLearning experience.

3. Cloud Or Off-Site Learning Management System

Site security is important, especially in terms of open communications. In-house tech should be avoided where possible. The LMS should be selected based solely on the needs of the business and what it hopes to accomplish. This may be something as simple as a remote video webinar to a full LMS system being put in place. Individual needs will vary.

4. Lesson Planning

What are the lessons that need to be learned? Are these tasks that are new and will take more time to accomplish? Is this a refresher course or more of a question-and-answer course? Is this an update to existing operations or the implementation of new processes that have to be taught? Multimedia eLearning materials may be a viable option in cases where language may present challenges.

5. Trained Instructor And Opportunity For Feedback And Question

Use a live, remote interpreter or qualified instructor who speaks the language at the native level. Interactive, bi-directional, live communications are necessary to ensure that questions can be answered on the spot. Interactive participation is one of the keys to successfully planning eLearning lessons.

6. Relevant And Proper Delivery Methods

The introduction of a new product line for executives and administrators will require training and introduction through the use of eLearning technologies. However, the delivery methods for this course would be substantially different than an eLearning course developed for the introduction of new production equipment for line workers.

7. Defined Conclusions And Purpose

Each eLearning course must focus on relevant delivery methods, and also must have a well-defined purpose and conclusion at the same time. Is testing involved in the eLearning course? Are there minimal test results required? What is the purpose of the eLearning course and what is the minimum acceptable outcome and what are ideal outcomes?

8. Student Feedback And Assessment

It is important that the people involved with the eLearning course be allowed to present their thoughts regarding the efficacy of the lessons being imparted. Not only does language need to be considered, but also any cultural differences and other ideological potential for misunderstanding.

9. eLearning Review And Analysis

When delivered for the purposes of increasing the efficiency of business process outsourcing, each lesson must be reviewed and analyzed in order to determine which eLearning methods are effective and which are not. After the analysis has been concluded, viable resolutions should be decided upon and implemented.

As the digital nature of business and life continue to expand exponentially, it will become increasingly common to use a multilingual approach when developing eLearning courses online. The use of translation and interpretation services are likely going to be understood to be important to this process. The use of localization in multilingual eLearning course building will ensure that no student is ever left behind, no matter what their native language or cultural heritage may be.