Go Global With Training: Insider Insights Into Localization
Milles Studio/Shutterstock.com

Insider Insights Into Localization For Going Global With Training 

When I began my career in the languages services industry, it was just after 9/11. Many global companies began to pull back their traditional efforts in marketing their goods and services outside of the US. In order to continue to drive sales with less money invested in translation, printing, and distribution, we began to see more effort put into the localization of websites and other forms of electronic communication tools.

Major advances in technology and support helped fuel the fire. Language specific keyboards, workable office programs with multi-language support included, and viable fonts for double-byte and script-based languages brought software, websites, and video games into a huge growth phase. These are what also began to separate a translation company and a language service provider (LSP).

New industry buzzwords such as localization, globalization, and internationalization were emerging and becoming a part of our corporate vocabulary. In the beginning those buzzwords were confusing, and over the years they have become even more confusing. Localization, especially, has been blended into a mash of meaning that isn’t necessarily correct. Part of this stems from the LSP industry being confused about what “localization” really means which in turn leads to confused clients.

When the term “localization” is used, it can mean 2 very different things depending on the scope of your particular project:

1. Language Or Content Localization. 

When we are localizing from a language standpoint, we are taking some sort of content in one language and converting through a translation process to another language. During the course of that process, the information will be translated so the end product will be understood, culturally appropriate, and an accurate reflection of the source. During this process, things like images, color schemes, slang, colloquialisms, and acronyms may need to be addressed. For marketing content, it is likely that trans-creation will be necessary. If audio is involved, selecting the proper narrator is key. Accents vary country-to-country and region-to-region. The goal of language localization is for the final product not to be recognized a translation. Instead, it should be received as if it were developed in that particular language from scratch.

2. Localization Engineering. 

When a project that involves some sort of translation, the platform in which that translated content resides may involve localization engineering. As an example, software has its own set of unique challenges from a technical perspective and isn’t something that can be facilitated by a DTP staff member. It takes an experienced localization engineer. When localizing software, a website or a Learning Management System, there are font incompatibilities sometimes inherent in the target language. Diacritical marks, stacking, and text expansion don’t always play nicely with a user-interface. There are character limitations that always come in to play with navigational buttons and tabs, for example. These same issues are not atypical with video games and mobile apps. It can be a disaster if the running scripts are compromised during the language localization process. Something as simple as deleting or adding a comma can be disastrous. A thorough functionality test and linguistic QA must be a component of the localization engineering process! With something like an eLearning course, syncing the new audio with a longer running time even in the common authoring tools can be a challenge when you can’t read Arabic and the course needs to be converted to right-to-left. Also, syncing animations can be a trick when you don’t know the language.

Here’s a real life example as to why this could be important to you.

I have a client that develops training in Storyline for a large, global company. This developer is great and knows what they need when a project is localized. For this exercise, we’ll refer to their end client as Company A.

Company A has a long-standing relationship with a translation company. This relationship is important to Company A; I respect that and so does the developer. So, Local Concept takes these provided translations, records the audio, and then handles the localization engineering to produce the final published course and SCORM package.

Now, this is where it gets tricky. Company A’s translation companies cannot work with a Storyline export file. (It’s OK to go ahead and chuckle.) Instead, the developer has to cut-and-paste the English content into a word table for translation. (You can chuckle again – it’s OK.) That translated word table comes to me at Local Concept along with the Storyline source files. We, then, export the English from Storyline (for localization engineering) and cut-and-paste provided translations (language localization) so we have that for the alpha build and can ultimately create a final published course and SCORM package.

Is this a lot of unnecessary work and billable man hours? Yes – for both the developer and us. But, it’s also a great example of not only a difference between a translation company and a language service provider, but also the difference between what it means when a LSP says “Yes, I can localize your training course” and when a translation company says the same.

So, in a nutshell, localization engineering takes your localized content and makes it work in something outside of a doc or graphic file here there is some necessity of higher level functionality on the user experience side. And, you need to make sure it still works.

The bottom line is to make sure you are clear in what you mean by “localization” for your particular project. This will help us –your language service provider– better understand what you want right out of the gate. This information will also help you, as a consumer of language service, ensure you are aligning with the right resource.

Close