How to train international employees with translation of training resources

This guest post from Rachel Wheeler at looks at how to successfully implement translation of training resources for a global workforce

Having a multinational workforce can have several benefits, but it also comes with some challenges. One of the most significant is training employees who speak different languages and come from different cultural backgrounds.

With the rise of eLearning, companies with a global workforce now have a set of tools that can increase the effectiveness of training employees while reducing the cost of developing training programs for different countries.

Getting started with translation of training resources

According to a report from IBIS Capital, 41.7% of G500 companies are already using eLearning to train their staff. Part of the reason for this is that eLearning solutions are effective. However, it is also due to the flexibility that this technology offers. It is this flexibility that makes eLearning the ideal solution for companies that need to train employees who come from different cultures and speak different languages.

One important consideration is to plan for educational translation and globalization while you are developing the training program that you will deploy. In this post, we are going to cover some of the points that go into preparing eLearning training solutions for an international workforce.

Machine translation or human translation?

Everybody is probably familiar with machine translation services, such as Google Translate. Some of these services can work well for simple translations. Additionally, it might be tempting for some organizations to try using machine translations to save money.

The problem with machine translations is that they have limitations that do not lend themselves well to an educational platform. You could experience problems with mistranslations, and the translated version of the content is unlikely to come across in a way that is fluent to the language. For this reason, it is recommended that you hire a professional human translator to work on your training resources.

Human translators can account for differences in context and they can make adjustments that might be necessary for cultural differences. In addition, a professional translation service will use various tools to ensure the accuracy and consistency of the translations. These tools could even include machine translation to make the process quicker and cheaper, but they will always proofread and edit the results using a human translator.

Translation strategy

Before you start developing the base content that will be used for the training course, it is a good idea to develop a translation strategy. You will need to decide on the types of content that will work well for your training program, the scope of the translations, visual and audio elements that will be included in the program, and the types of authoring tools that will be used for it.

By developing this strategy before you start working on the base content, you can ensure you develop resources that are translation-friendly. If you contract your translations through an experienced Language Service Provider (LSP), they should be able to assist in the development of a translation strategy that is designed for the specific needs of your organization.


Localization is another important point to consider when you are developing the base content for the program. Beyond accounting for the differences in language, you also need to consider differences in culture.

If you can develop resources that avoid culturally specific references and images, it will make it easier to adapt the eLearning program for people in different regions. Depending on the LSP you partner with for your translations, they may also be able to help you with your localization strategy.

Managing costs

Some organizations might be hesitant when it comes to translating eLearning resources, or decide to cut corners by using machine translations. However, for eLearning to be effective, it needs to communicate in the language of the learner and do so in a way that is clear and accurate.

While translations are an additional cost for developing an eLearning program that is going to be deployed globally, it is a necessary expense. Fortunately, there a few things that can be done to reduce the costs:

  • Develop base content that is clear and concise
  • Make courses as culturally neutral as possible
  • Use audio and video only in situations where it is the best option
  • Use rapid authoring tools to reduce the time and cost that goes into developing content
  • Use translation memory to reduce the cost and time that goes into translations

Choosing a translator

Hiring a good translator is going to be critical for the success of developing a training program for a global workforce. You should try to hire a vendor that has experience with translating educational resources.

They will already have a process in place for translating courses and this should ensure better results. You also want to hire an agency that has the right tools for ensuring accurate translation while cutting the time and cost that goes into the translation process.

When done right, eLearning technologies can offer some of the best solutions for training a globalized workforce. This means developing base content with the necessities of translation and localization in mind.

A failure to build these strategies could increase the cost of adapting the program for employees in different countries. It could even result in a course that does not do an effective job of training employees.

Find out more! Check out our ebook, ‘12 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Authoring Tool’.

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