How to select a language service provider for elearning localization

By Acclaro
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How to select an LSP for eLearning content

The global corporate elearning market will be valued at nearly $50 billion by 2026—and with good reason. eLearning is one of the most cost-effective ways to invest in training and development. However, 90% of people prefer learning in their own language. And that’s where elearning localization comes into play. 

Unlike other types of localization (e.g., software or marketing), elearning requires an understanding of pedagogy and instructional design. Linguists need to tailor the content to match both the target audience’s learning preferences and cultural norms. 

While most language service providers (LSPs) offer a range of translation and localization services, you need a partner that has experience in elearning. Why? Because not every LSP has the knowledge and skill set to successfully adapt training and development programs.

The benefits of localizing elearning content

Like any other localization initiative it’s important to start with the reason why you want to do it. Localizing elearning assets is a major challenge, but it’s worthwhile for organizations with a global presence. Below are just three of the benefits of doing so: 

  • Users retain more knowledge when they learn in their native language.
  • Multiple language options improve learning engagement in non-English speaking markets.    
  • Multilingual content helps you build stronger connections with international audiences,  as it allows you to match their linguistic and cultural preferences.  

When global learners have access to localized online courses, multimedia, and training documents, they’re better equipped to contribute and reach organizational and personal goals.   

Before you begin, you need to understand the localization capabilities of your learning management system (LMS) and develop a plan for working around its limitations. This includes evaluating:

  • How to move content in and out of your LMS
  • File and folder structures, and whether you can create a folder structure that works across languages and can be duplicated for each new project 
  • User Interface (UI), including interactive elements such as navigation buttons, tooltips and progress bars that contain text that require localization
  • Different types of content, such as text, graphics, and animations, and whether you can capture them all through either the export/import function or a connector  

Taking this step will put you in a better position to refine and execute your elearning localization strategy. Then, you can begin looking for a localization partner that can help you bring your vision to life.

Identify your localization needs

But before you reach out to LSPs, you should identify all of your localization needs. Why? Because this will ensure you choose a partner that can support all of your needs at the same time. From text translation and multimedia localization to adapting the design and user experience. As you review your multilingual elearning curriculum, consider the following:

  • Target audience. Make sure you identify translation agencies with experience in your target demographic. For example, let’s say you want to localize your company’s training courses for software developers. You’ll want to work with elearning translators who have experience adapting content on topics such as programming languages, software architecture, and software development methodologies.
  • Content type. Multimedia content such as on-screen text, audio, video, and graphics all pose unique localization challenges. You need a localization provider that can adapt each module of your course and ensure a positive user experience.   
  • Budget. Your localization budget will influence decisions such as whether to use subtitles or voice over for videos. An experienced provider will be able to offer guidance on how to best localize elearning content within your budget.

How to find prospective language service providers

Now that you know how to identify your needs, let’s take a look at how to find a language service provider for elearning. Here are four ways to locate—and evaluate—potential partners.  

Search on Google or other search engines

Look for information about elearning translation and localization on the company website. Do they have web pages dedicated to these services? Are there any case studies, blog posts, or testimonials that highlight elearning projects? All of this can provide insight into their approach to and experience in elearning.  

Ask connections or industry peers for recommendations

Recommendations are among the best ways to determine whether an LSP is a good fit. Reach out to fellow professionals who have launched multilingual elearning programs and inquire about their experiences. Ask questions such as:

  • How well do they understand elearning?
  • Did they provide high-quality localization services in a timely manner?
  • How easy was it to work with them?
  • Would you hire them again?

Review translation industry rankings from sites like Nimdzi and Slator

Localization industry organizations publish annual rankings of the top 100 localization providers. These lists are based on an organization’s size and revenue and include information such as location and business verticals. They’re a great way to start a search for a  translation agency with experience in elearning localization.

Search comparison websites such as

G2 and other comparison websites offer reviews, pricing, and information about various business verticals and market segments. These websites can give you a general idea of how much localization services cost and whether a provider works with companies your size.

Questions to ask prospective language service providers

After you’ve done some preliminary research, it’s time to reach out to agencies that could be a good fit. Ask the following questions to further vet their qualifications.

How much experience do you have with elearning localization?

You need a localization partner that has experience and a dedicated team of experts in elearning localization. This includes in-depth knowledge of cultural variations in learning styles as well as how the target audience prefers to interact with content.      

How much domain experience do you have in [MY] industry?

Ideally, the elearning localization provider will have experience in your field. It’s important that the provider understands your domain-specific terminology and references to successfully adapt your content for international audiences. 

Can you handle all of my elearning localization needs?

As an elearning localization buyer, you need a full-service language solution to maintain consistent training content across languages and cultures. You need a vendor that can adapt all of your multimedia content, and offer guidance on moving content in and out of your LMS.          

Do your multimedia teams have experience delivering assets in all common formats?

You need a vendor that can deliver any adapted multimedia content in the original format. Common formats include: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and Avid Media Composer, among others. You may want to give them a list of the formats you use to ensure they can work with them.

How do you source linguists? What type of qualifications and experience do they have?

Linguists must be native speakers of the target language and specialize in translating elearning content. That’s because they need to be versed in the target culture, industry vocabulary, and basic pedagogy to adapt the content’s structure and instructional methods.

During your consultation, ask about the process they use to source and evaluate linguists as well as how many years of experience they require.  

What is your process for submitting and receiving files (e.g., audio, video, graphics)

eLearning localization involves submitting and receiving numerous files for translation, and you’ll need a centralized location to manage the process. Ask the LSP if they have a translation management platform or use popular cloud integrations like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive.

How do you ensure brand consistency and language quality when you localize elearning content?

eLearning linguists should reference your company’s style guide and glossary to adapt the tone and preferred terminology in the target language(s). They typically also use a translation memory tool to capture and automatically translate industry terms and preferred definitions as well as previously translated text to maintain consistency.

The LSP’s QA process should include steps to ensure the content adheres to your company’s standards. To do so, the QA team will refer to the style guide, glossary, and translation memory to review translation quality.   

Because elearning content requires a consistent training experience across all languages, translation quality is critical. As you evaluate LSPs, consider:

  • Language accuracy, style, and tone of sample translations
  • How they approach elearning programs
  • Quality assurance processes
  • Reviews and/or recommendations from previous clients

This process will help you narrow down the number of potential vendors, and help ensure they meet all of your requirements. 

What are your typical turnaround times for elearning content?

eLearning localization can take weeks to months, depending on the scope. Asking about the typical turnaround times will help you set a realistic deadline.

Is your approach different for elearning content vs. other types of content? How?

You need to know how the LSP approaches elements that make elearning content unique, including content structure, visual aids, and interactive components such as quizzes, exercises, and simulations. This helps you verify that they can correctly adapt the entire learning journey, instead of simply localizing individual elements of your course.       

Can you provide elearning localization samples?  

eLearning localization samples in your target languages or industry will help you evaluate the quality of a provider’s work. Share them with someone on your team who speaks the target language and ask whether the translated content meets your organization’s standards.        

How do you suggest we budget for elearning localization services?

eLearning localization requires an investment in translation, multimedia localization, and user interface adaptation. An elearning expert will provide guidance on how to best allocate your budget for an ideal user experience.  

How to generate a shortlist and make a final selection

So, how do you decide which localization partner is right for you? We recommend requesting three to five references from each vendor, specifically for elearning localization. If possible, schedule calls or online meetings with the selected references. 

How to negotiate the best contract for your organization

Before you sign with an LSP, you need to negotiate a contract that meets your needs. Start by requesting an itemized breakdown of the required investment. From there, you can negotiate terms such as turnaround times and volume discounts.

Scale your global elearning program with Acclaro

As you can see, you need to consider multiple factors before selecting a language service provider. You need a partner that goes beyond localizing elearning content and offers the guidance you need to create exceptional learning experiences—regardless of language.

When you work with Acclaro, we help you create a scalable elearning localization strategy, and serve as a partner to guide you through the process. We take the time to understand your company’s culture, needs, and target audience. This allows us to customize an efficient, repeatable process that results in multilingual courses that keep users engaged and helps them meet learning goals. And it’s this strategic approach that sets us apart from the “words in, words out” agencies. 

Want to learn more about how Acclaro can help you connect with elearners in any language? Get started today.

Training and elearning ebook

Educate, engage & inform across cultures

Language barriers should never stand in the way of hiring and training the right employees, or of informing customers. So, how can your company deliver consistent, targeted and relevant instructional materials across language markets? It starts with an elearning localization strategy.

Wondering what’s involved? We developed an elearning localization ebook that highlights best practices on:

  • Creating effective and consistent global training content
  • Working with imagery, graphics and videos
  • Handling space limitations
  • Catering to potential customers

Download our training and elearning ebook to discover how you can save valuable time and money by taking a more strategic approach to localization.

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