The Importance Of eLearning Localization For The Success Of Your Global Training Program
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What's The Importance Of eLearning Localization For Your Global Training Program?

The dominant language of the modern global economy is English. While English is the native language for companies headquartered in the US, most of the manufacturing, research, warehouses, and other facilities around the world communicate in other languages. Therefore, when these companies need to train or educate employees or their target audience in another country, the message must be conveyed in a language and style the learner can understand. This is proven to have the best engagement and comprehension. The best global companies realize this truth and are investing accordingly to assure that corporate strategies, policies, and processes are explained in their employee’s native language. Why? Rule #1.

eBook Release: Creating An Impactful eLearning Localization Strategy: A Complete Guide For L&D Professionals
eBook Release
Creating An Impactful eLearning Localization Strategy: A Complete Guide For L&D Professionals
Within this book you can find questions regarding ROI, investment costs, schedules, cost drivers, and engagement techniques for successful implementation of localized L&D content.

Global Training Rule #1: 90% Of People Want To Learn In Their Native Language

Employees want to work for a successful company. They also want to contribute to the company’s growth and prosperity. To do so, they will need to be educated on the company philosophy, best practices, processes, and desired outcomes. They must learn quickly how to perform according to company standards. Employees want to learn in their native language so that they can comprehend fully and apply information faster. To receive this information directly and not through the filter of a supervisor/interpreter is the purest form of learning.

Many companies expand internationally and require that their key managers be bilingual. Some companies, like the Japanese firm Softbank Mobile, who purchased a 70% share of Sprint-Nextel in the U.S., immediately offered 1 million yen ($9,800) for employees who could master a new language skill. This option is clearly limited because it is quite time-consuming and expensive. The option to simply hire individuals who are already fluent in two languages AND have the right professional skill collapses the labor pool to a very small number to choose from. Even when a bilingual candidate is found and hired, they are first hired because of professional competency in management and/or technical skill. To, then, add the burden that they are expected to personally train and/or translate books of policies and procedures to all other employees is a no-win situation.

"Localizing content" is the task of transforming information from one language (source) into another language (target) in a way that the end-user will digest with maximum engagement. The word “translation” is often used instead of localization. While these terms are similar in nature, there is a significant difference in the details, especially when graphic or images and non-text content is involved.

What Is The Impact And Return On Investment Of Localization?

One of the biggest questions many companies face is whether or not localization works and if so, is there a Return On Investment (ROI)? ROI is not just about the numbers. Localizing training content has proven to accelerate productivity, reduce lost time, mitigate injury claims, and improve employee retention. These are the 'soft costs' that can be dramatically impacted by localization vs. translation efforts. Here are some examples:

Case Study #1
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that language barriers contribute to 25% of job-related accidents. DFW Airport took this to heart and offered safety practices localized into Spanish to its employees. Lost time dropped to a level of 83% below the Texas state-wide average and the Airport Authority enjoyed a period of 5 years with no fatalities.

Case Study #2
A U.S. food manufacturer found it difficult to train non-English speaking laborers. Their inability to speak and read English made it difficult for them to perform their jobs effectively. The solution was to administer training material in Spanish to 1,265 adult learners. Assessments were conducted by comparing scores before and immediately following training. The impact?

Scores concerning food safety knowledge and food handling behavior improved dramatically when training was conducted in the learners’ native language. Spanish-speaking participants averaged an impressive 96.60% on post-training scores. This clearly demonstrates the impact and ROI of localization initiatives, when presented in native languages.

Localization Proven For Marketing … So Why Not L&D?

Companies are mastering localization when it comes to marketing their goods and services to target audiences in different cultures; because it works. There is slower adoption for performing this same service for employees of these same companies… but why?

Nataly Kelly of the Harvard Business Review asserts that “there is an undeniably strong link between in-language content and a consumer’s likelihood of making a purchase”. Common Sense Advisory surveyed 2,430 web consumers in 8 countries and found that 72.1% of consumers spend most, if not all, of their time on websites in their own language. 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than the price of the good or service. A study based on a Gallup survey of language preferences among web browsers in 23 E.U. countries revealed that 19% of Europeans never browse in a language other than their own. 42% said they never purchase products and services in languages other than their native tongue. Most Europeans are multilingual yet still display such preferences.

The global language services industry is big, reaching over $45 billion in 2018 and projected to grow to almost $56.2 billion by 2021! That’s a lot of money dedicated to making sure content is available in different languages. There isn’t hard data on what the L&D industry spends of that $45 billion, but it’s estimated to be a considerable amount.

Global English may be the language of commerce, but the global economy has employees speaking hundreds of languages. To unleash these employees into the realm of high productivity, innovative thought, and high retention requires engaging them in the language in which they are most comfortable. In our honest assessment, a confident, motivated employee is a huge Return On Investment in any language.

The Learning & Development professional is facing a growing demand for global adaptations of corporate training content. Download our eBook Creating An Impactful eLearning Localization Strategy: A Complete Guide For L&D Professionals to discover how a great eLearning localization strategy can help you turn your employees into rising stars and unlock their true potential. It also features tips to go global by launching an engaging program for your multicultural workforce.

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