The lessons and information shared in this blog have been compiled by Exult based on our experience working with a number of global organizations and meeting their corporate training translation needs. We have summarized our findings using inputs from our experience, our 3rd party translation partners, and Internet research.
Need and Benefits of Corporate Training Translation
Organizations that have a substantial presence in multiple geographic areas may require translation services for corporate training programs. Translated content can make life easier for your employees who do not consider English as their primary language. We have identified several benefits:
- Training material translated into the local language will help employees overcome some of their skill gaps and apprehension associated with acquiring knowledge in foreign language.
- If an employee has skill gaps or basic understanding of their responsibilities due to language barriers with training materials, there is a high possibility they will fail to fulfill their tasks.
- An employee who understands and comprehends their job responsibilities owing to training in their native language which they constantly use as guidelines, is far more likely to be effective.
- An effective translated training not only considers grammar and vocabulary, but also the culture of the country.
- Translation costs may seem prohibitive with a limited budget. However, access to poor or no translation might result in higher cost concerns in the long-term owing to lack of training on important initiatives.
- A few European countries have a legal mandate for making content available in local languages for regulations, compliance, and training that is application-oriented. Learners can refuse to accept the training topic stating their inability to comprehend the language. For these countries, translation is required.
- It may even be beneficial to provide training in multiple languages for an audience in large cities such as New York, London. Typically, such large cities may have employees from diverse geographies who will benefit from native language training.
Pointers to Identify Translation Needs Across Multiple Geographies and Languages
Audience: Identify the audience. Are they based out of a single geography like the United States or United Kingdom? If the majority of the audience is from a single location, then there may be no need for translation. If the audience is globally dispersed, then there may be a potential need for translation.
Audience distribution %: Identify the percentage of the total audience who are globally dispersed vs. a single location. The percentage indicates whether to pursue complete translation or identify another workaround.
Criticality of training: How critical is this training to the success of the business and ROI? This may help decide whether to invest in translation or not.
Budget availability: Identify the total available budget for a particular training. Is the budget sufficient to include translation?
Compliance requirement: Identify if there are any compliance requirements either internally (within the company) or geographically (within specific country) for translated training as a mandate.
Audience language analysis: Identify the percentage of the audience within a specific geography who are comfortable with comprehending English language vs. those who require training in their native language.
Politics: Some countries carry more political weight in organizations and demand translations even if their populations are not large e.g., France, Germany. Some languages demand translation because a country or global area of the world is moving in that direction e.g., Spanish in the U.S. market.
Pointers to Perform Audience Analysis
Global HR employee data: Request a report from global HR and/or global Finance that includes the distribution of employees across multiple geographic areas. This should contain employee name, designation, department, role, and location. This should also contain all employee data including permanent and contract employees.
Priority geographies: Based on the distribution of employees, identify the geographies that are high priority in terms of high employee count and business impact.
Employee language preference: Survey the employee population in high priority geographies to gather information related to employee language preference. This survey could be run across all employees or local HR or Managers within a specific location depending on logistic requirements and feasibility. The data should cover information such as –
- Do they understand and comprehend written and verbal English (US / UK)?
- Are they comfortable taking English training?
- What is the percentage of learners desiring the training in English vs. native language training?
- If they prefer native language training, which language and dialect?
- Past translation effectiveness: Run reports from the LMS or through a survey to gather feedback on the effectiveness of historical translated training. The reports should ideally cover information such as – percentage completion of local language training, learner’s location, and learner’s feedback on effectiveness.
- Employee background: If possible, gather the ethno-linguistic background of the employees to identify the top languages for translation. This could even help employees residing in other geographies, but with a different native language.
- English influence nations: Identify countries that have English as the primary language of business. For example, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium are well conversant in English. India has English as the business language. So if the target population is relatively small, it may be acceptable not to translate into these languages.
- Minimal Translation: The on-screen text and voiceover are retained in the original language. Only the voiceover transcript is translated into the native language.
- Translation: This covers word-for-word translation of the original training (on-screen text and voiceover) into the native language. The context and language correctness are maintained.
- Localization: In addition to word translation, localization also covers other aspects such as cultural differences. A portion of the content and treatment can undergo a change to better suit the native culture and language. E.g. a baseball analogy is more suited for United States, whereas football for Europe and cricket for Asia Pacific.