Behind the Scenes of an eLearning Localization Project

Localizing your eLearning content with an expert team should feel seamless. But behind the scenes, a large team is working to make it all happen, from defining the scope of your eLearning localization project all the way to delivering a fully localized course ready to work within your learning management system (LMS).

There are normally up to 30 various steps on our workflow that go into all of the processes of learning. Compared to other projects, such as software localization, for example, with the eLearning localization project, just from setting up a project, there is usually an extra step or two.

After localizing, there are a couple of extra steps, including any glossaries that are inherent to standards and best practices. Add to these various testing components that are compiled back into the learning, as well as an extra layer of voice.

Let’s take a look at the many steps of an eLearning localization project from start to finish.

Breaking Down the Steps of an eLearning Localization Project

Defining the Scope of Work

Before an eLearning localization project can begin, you will need to export files from your LMS so that our team can scope them. Our localization engineers will then assess the translatable content and, along with the sales and production teams, begin to define the scope of work.

As part of this process, we work with you to understand your target audience and the intended outcome of the course. Are you localizing eLearning content for your company’s employees, end users of your product, or contractors? What country do they live in? What is their education level? By listening to your responses to these questions, we determine who to bring into the project and what to localize.

In addition to determining how many words there are for translation, it is also important for us to identify any multimedia files that need to be included. For audio and video content, we need to address how they will be localized: with a translated transcript, subtitles and/or voice-over or dubbing, and whether you require human or AI voice-over.

The strategy you choose will depend on the type of content and the age and culture of your target audience—as well as your budget and timeline.

We also may recommend localizing elements that do not contain words based on cultural context. For example, an image of a yellow sedan implies “taxi” to an American, but a Costa Rican who is used to red taxicabs will not pick up on that meaning. Other elements to be considered include fonts, colours, icons, and even elements of the user interface. All of this is paramount to ensure your eLearning course adapts to the target culture.

an eLearning Localization Project

Preparation Work

Once the scope of work has been defined, our project managers and localization engineers have pre-translation work to do. Based on the file types involved, they will need to choose which software will be used for translation. They will also need to extract content for translation and convert files, if necessary, so that the translation work can be handled within a CAT tool.

While the files are prepared, our translation team is also hard at work compiling reference materials. An eLearning localization project is more likely to be a success if we have a robust style guide and glossary to ensure consistency throughout the project.

The style guide defines how the team will handle information such as dates, measurements, and currencies. The style guide should also delve into inclusive language—for example, if the English source for a human resources module uses the singular ‘they,’ how will it be sensitively handled in French or German?

The glossary addresses terminology issues, from industry-specific terms to internal or branded terms your company may use that need to be defined for the linguists working on the project.

For an in-depth look at the questions we aim to answer during the preparation phase, see our article 5 Key Factors of Successful eLearning Translation.

Building a Team

Once preparation is underway, we also work to build the production team that will handle your eLearning localization project. In addition to the localization engineers, terminology experts, and project managers who are already hard at work, there are several other groups involved.

On every project, we assemble a team of skilled linguists who meet several criteria:

  • They are native speakers of the language of the translation who reside in the country of your target audience to ensure that they are aware of the cultural differences and specifics of that market.
  • Additionally, they are subject matter experts—for example, if you are looking to translate an eLearning course related to heavy machinery, we will assign linguists with manufacturing and machinery expertise to work on the project.

These linguists handle the translation, editing, and proofreading steps of the project, working closely as a team for the best outcome.

If your project has audio or video components requiring localization, we will need to involve our multimedia team to work on digital files. Typically, multimedia localization starts with transcription services, requiring transcriptionists to transcribe what is said in the original file.

Once the transcript is translated, we will need subtitlers and/or voice artists to help us create the target-language content through software programs such as Adobe Presenter, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Captivate, or EZ Titles.

The other teams involved come into play once the translation is complete. Our desktop publishing (DTP) team is responsible for taking the translated content and reassembling it in the target language. Their job is to manage the layout of the translated documents within your LMS.

The last step involves our QA testing team, speakers of the target language who will navigate the finished product to ensure functionality, translation quality, and correct layout.

Localizing the Content


Once we have built the team and the files have been prepared for translation, it is time to begin the actual localization process.

Each file will pass through translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP), a three-stage QA process handled by at least two linguists to ensure that there are multiple pairs of eyes on your content.

Multimedia Localization

For multimedia content, we generally transcribe the source files and translate them into the target language. Then, depending on the desired final product, subtitlers will create target language subtitles or voice-over artists will use the translated script as the basis for new audio.

Desktop Publishing (DTP)

Once translation is done, the DTP team gets to work. Depending on the file types involved, they may use programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator to create localized graphs, charts, or images. Then, they will take the localized files and painstakingly recreate the eLearning content in the new language, making sure that the visuals are engaging and culturally relevant and appropriate for the target audience.

QA & Compliance

Once the target language files have been prepared, they are turned over to the quality assurance (QA) team for final review.

An eLearning localization project may involve several types of QA, typically performed by speakers of the target language who are aware of potential linguistic issues as well as functionality and layout concerns.

Among the issues they look for are:

  • Linguistic issues such as misspellings, missing words, or agreement within a sentence
  • Layout issues, such as a headline that is cut off or special characters that are not displaying correctly
  • Hyperlinks that point to untranslated content
  • Readability of fonts for non-Latin languages such as Chinese, Korean, or Hindi
  • Right-to-left layout for content in languages such as Arabic or Farsi
  • Functionality of interface, making sure that all buttons function as intended and the assessments work the same way in the target language as they do in the source.

In addition to visual and functional QA, we also look for linguistic inconsistencies throughout the project. If a concept is translated one way in the educational material and another in the assessment, it can impede both learning and evaluation.

Lastly, if legal translation is involved, we can also build in a step where translated content is reviewed by your legal team. Depending on the target audience of your eLearning localization project, it may be critical to ensure that content adheres to regulations and meets prevailing legal standards.

The Role of Project Management in Your eLearning Localization Project

eLearning Localization Project

As you can see, an eLearning localization project has many moving pieces, all of which are important to ensure that the finished course is functional and efficient for your target audience.

Your project manager will play a key role in making sure that your project is successful, starting with a conversation about what the intended outcomes of your eLearning localization project are.

Once they understand what your company aims to achieve, they can recommend what to localize and custom-build an expert team specifically for your eLearning localization project. They are also ready to handle challenges that may arise during the localization process, and they are trained accordingly in change management.

All this hard work of a multifunctional and multitalented localization team happens behind the scenes to ensure that your training is successful, no matter your target audience.

If you are ready to turn your next eLearning localization project over to an expert team that can take project management off your plate while meeting deadlines and delivering quality content, contact Art One Translations. We would be happy to discuss your goals and provide you with a quote for your next eLearning localization project.

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