A Few Words

Getting the Most From Your eLearning & Training Investments

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Oct 15, 2015 10:06:00 AM

“The World is Flat,” declared Thomas Friedman in his 2005 examination of global business and competition. He said that through technology such as social media and ecommerce, the business world is experiencing globalization at hyper speed. The World Trade Organization bears this out: in 1980 there were 27,000 multinational corporations. There are 128,000 today.

When a company expands internationally, they face new challenges training their global workforce. Even for domestic-only companies, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the U.S. among a growing number of other foreign language speakers.
In the recent U.S. Census, 24% of those that speak another language at home admit to speaking English “not well” or “not well at all." Since it is difficult to divulge this in the workplace, it has become a business imperative to conduct employee training in multiple languages.

HR, Talent and Learning consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte has found that top-performing companies allocate more money to talent development than other companies. Bersin calls them “high-impact learning organizations,” and they reap the benefits of investing in training and development by financially outperforming their peers. They produce profit growth three times that of their competitors (Bersin, 2012).

Today, the best way to make employee training engaging is with eLearning platforms such as Moodle, Edmodo or Blackboard. But to maximize the value of this investment – and more importantly to ensure that health and safety information is quickly and completely learned – delivering employee communication in the language of the workforce is essential.

eLearning course content translation can be complex. There are difficult challenges, such as the need to quickly translate high volumes of content, often in multiple types of file formats (such as Flash, XML, and other multimedia formats). Voice-over content needs to be transcribed and re-recorded or edited down for subtitling. Then all localized components must be smoothly integrated back into the eLearning environment.

Our deep experience with eLearning platforms and related technologies ensures a smooth localization process and high-quality results. We want to make sure that all of your employees receive the same benefit and value that the best employee training provides. Elanex delivers eLearning localization services to enable your organization to respond effectively to the exponential growth of the non-English speaking world. Contact us today to learn more.

Topics: Localization, Employee Communication and HR, Best Business Practices

Managing the Global Workforce: Communication is Key

Posted by Donald J. Plumley, CEO on Apr 22, 2015 2:34:00 PM

images-2-1Successful global expansion takes more than renting office space in another country. Companies both large and small looking to global markets to drive growth are finding out that effective communication with the global workforce is both important and challenging. Accenture published a report discussing expansion best practices and lessons for HR professionals – such as how one firm seeks to:

“…manage these employees in ways that are aligned with a global approach to employee services, while also complying with different statutory requirements and respecting local differences in how people are motivated, developed and paid.”

Staffing overseas offices with trusted staff from the headquarters may be a convenient way to expand quickly, but:

“… if a company expects its growth to be in emerging economies, having leadership from the West swoop in with a set of attitudes and presumptions that may not be appropriate for a growth market can create a real business risk.”

The report notes that having globally consistent polices with local relevance requires:

“…an HR approach that is both super global and super local.”

You can read the entire Accenture report here. Communication that is both globally consistent and locally relevant takes a deft touch – and a trusted partner to help render it into local languages along with your training materials and other resources. We would be happy to share our best practices and approach to help you connect with your team around the globe.

Topics: Employee Communication and HR, Best Business Practices

10 Essential Tips of eLearning Translation and Localization

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Feb 4, 2015 11:44:00 AM

Localizing eLearning material can be an effective way to ensure that your global customers and staff are receiving appropriate training by making it available in their native language. Effective eLearning localization can help make sure that training materials are replicated across all of your target markets. With many moving parts, eLearning and training translation can be quite complex. However, with the proper preparation, you can eliminate unnecessary costs and foster an efficient process to keep the project on schedule. A key responsibility of your translation partner is to know the intricacies of culturally diverse audiences. This is particularly important when it comes to localization of eLearning and educational materials.


Here are 10 tips to help avoid common localization issues when preparing your eLearning applications for a multilingual audience.

1. Create content that is translation-friendly. Examples of this include using bulleted lists, as opposed to lengthy and wordy paragraphs. Avoid jargon/slang and idiomatic expressions. Sentences should be short, in active voice, and well-constructed.

2. Use images carefully. Reduce the number of screenshots, use culturally-neutral images, and exercise caution when using metaphorical images or pictures that feature people making gestures. Cultural relevance is important. As an example, images of road signs from the United States should be changed to market suitable images for each country – a sign that says, “Stop” means little to a Chinese reader. The “Ok” hand gesture has an entirely different, negative meaning in Brazil.

3. When using graphics, avoid embedded text. While they can be edited by a graphic designer, this requires additional cost and time because retouching may be required to restore the background after removing and replacing the text.

If a graphic does contain embedded text, having access to the source file can save a lot of headaches if the original artwork files contain editable text layers. This allows text to be extracted, translated, and replaced with less graphic design time. Typically, the content package includes secondary files (PNG or GIF) instead of the original source files (Illustrator or Photoshop), so you may need to ask specifically for source assets.

4. Avoid embedding screen text in scripts such as Javascript or VBScript. If you can’t avoid using text strings in your script, help your localization partner to easily locate and mange the localizable text (see #5).

5. Bundle your text strings. Text strings (a group of characters used as data) can be bundled together as variables in an external resource file, or you can assemble them in one location in the code as a collection of variables, identified as localizable.

6. Be mindful of expanding text. Non-English text tends to be longer than the English equivalent and can present a challenge if the text container is not flexible. Depending on the language, translated text can expand 20 to 50 percent. Verify your design and code to ensure longer texts can be supported. Areas that are susceptible to problems are horizontal navigation bars, menus and other text containers with limited space to expand.

7. Avoid string sequences/concatenation. Avoid language constructions that contain fragments of text combined with variables. Other languages may need to have those segments in a different order, or the translation of certain pieces might be different depending on the variable (case, gender).

8. Reduce complex content integration. Whenever possible, avoid integrating content that is created using a combination of different technologies, formats and tools. Examples of this are fixed time constraints or time-synched audio/video with on-screen subtitles. It may take longer for narration in a non-English language, for example. The more complicated the creation process of those elements, the more complex the localization process might be.

9. Source versions of the files used in the final product should be made available for localization. Typically, technologies used for eLearning products have two versions of source: editable and published versions. If the editable version is not available, then the localized version needs to be built from scratch following translations or, in the case of multiple languages, rebuilt before starting translation. This is costly, introduces opportunities for errors, and adds to project time.

10. Make Audio/Video content considerations. Determine at the outset if you want a timed audio or synced recording or if a non-timed audio recording is suitable. This will depend if the video is graphic only or if there are people speaking to camera. These choices will determine how the translation and recording is managed. If possible include a generous buffer in the audio. Keep the script as culturally neutral as possible (e.g. avoid sports metaphors). Give clear guidelines for pronunciation to the voice talent.

Have any other tips to share? Please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Topics: Localization, Employee Communication and HR, Resources, Translation Basics

Elanex GlobalNote | Communicating in Shampoo Language

Posted by Donald J. Plumley, CEO on Jan 21, 2015 11:49:42 AM



​Communicating with your employees (or customers) in English only? Take a lesson from your shampoo bottle.

Why do shampoo bottles from the UK sold in Denmark, a country with very high levels of English fluency, have instructions in Danish? Robert Lane Greene of the Economist mentioned in a talk I attended this is because marketers want to communicate with consumers as directly as possible without the extra mental processing effort*. For Danes, the instructions, “rinse and repeat” are quickly and easily understood with very little “mental cost” when written in Danish. The goal of the marketer is to build an emotional connection to their brand. They also want to reduce hurdles to adoption – even if its only the mental processing time of a bilingual customer.




In the US, there are over 37 million Hispanic speakers and the number of non-native speakers in other languages is growing fast. While global corporations have long embraced the benefits (and challenges) of a multilingual workforce, all companies face a variety of hurdles communicating effectively with their employees in various languages. So many simply don’t, or don’t do much.

So how are shampoo and the multilingual workforce connected? 

Employee communication - everything from monthly newsletters to training materials to health and safety instructions - traditionally happens in English. If the workforce were asked, “would you prefer to have communication in another language,” many would answer “no preference,” leading to the potentially incorrect conclusion that English is sufficient.  Why? Many simply do not want to admit lack of confidence in the language of the company. In the recent US Census, 24% of those that speak another language at home claim to speak English “not well” or “not well at all."**  

With an increasingly diverse customer base, there are obvious advantages to a multilingual workforce. Delivering employee communication in the languages of the workforce helps reinforce the emotional connection with your team. Considering the value of safety instructions or training materials, take a lesson from your shampoo bottle. Then rinse and repeat.


* This is based on research by Daniel Kahneman describing how much less effort it takes to connect with people in their native language. This is known as System 1 versus System 2 in his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow

** As Common Sense Advisory has noted in "Can't Read, Won't Buy", the comfort one’s native language provides is even more pronounced when it comes to customers’ purchase behavior.  

Topics: Global Consumers, Employee Communication and HR

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