Localisation Vs Translation

If you have been following my blogs then you would have seen (and hopefully read) one of my last posts that showed that using a template based solution has numerous benefits. One of these key benefits is that a template based solution also allows for a faster and more efficient localisation process for content. Note that I have used the term, “localisation” and not “translation”. The latter is deliberate, as I use the term “localisation” to also encompass and include the process of translation from one language to another but localisation also expands on translation to involve local nuances within the group, country or demographics you may be targeting. Some examples of this would be:

  • A German course aimed at Health Care professions in Germany may not be appropriate for physicians based in Austria and Switzerland who also speak German as there may be specific drug recommendations including dosage or brand/generic names of said drugs may not be the same in all these countries. Therefore, some localisation would be needed.
  • A Spanish course designed for Spanish speakers in Spain cannot be pushed in Latin America countries like Mexico or Argentina as the Spanish dialect is different, so this course would need to be localised for Latin American users.
  • A classic example is English courses in British English would need some localisation if used in the USA to American English (especially some of the spelling – e.g. Localisation to Localization).

So how do you implement a localisation strategy?

I have worked on numerous projects for corporations that operate across the globe and have a requirement to ensure the content they produce for training can be localized for a specific locale that they operate within. The key components within a localisation process are as follows:

  1. Ensure you have a template based solution which can then be easily localised. This can be done by ensuring:
    • All buttons and controls used on the templates can be localised
    • Any Audio and Media used have source files that are available that can be either translated or have sub-titles added.
    • All text on pages can be easily downloaded for translation or can be accessed by localisation personnel or available to translation software with ease.
  2. Have a localisation workflow that has at least the following steps:
    • Download all textual elements
    • Machine localisation process- Where the machine translation process such as Google Translate can be trained to not only translate but also have localisation terms to update.
    • A localisation review process by a human to ensure accuracy of machine localisation and where possible to ensure update of any errors to the machine process to ensure machine knows terms to use for future localisation (This is called the Feedback Learning Loop).
    • Compliance review for any local laws where the content is targeted and also for any cultural taboos that must be taken into account for the target audience.
    • Final review from a local resource is available. Noting this is an optional step but always good to have.

Below is a typical flow we have used in previous projects.


The above example process was implemented within the health care sector where we implemented a combination of an LMS and CMS. The whole process was automated using a CMS to manage the translation process and then publish the content to our LMS.

I hope this gave you a taste for the localisation process within eLearning arena.




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