How to deliver multilingual L&D content efficiently without compromising on quality

Posted: 11 Sep 2023

Are you looking for efficiency in developing multilingual Learning and Development content?

We’ve recently been working with a company that’s enjoying rapid expansion and international growth into several new overseas markets.

The company was handling the translations in-house, using employees in their new markets to translate content for them. However, as many Learning and Development professionals will know, managing multilingual versions of your content can be very challenging.

Unfortunately, the translation process was not efficient due to their L&D team having little experience in translating at this level. Ultimately this led to low engagement levels, which is why they decided to get a second opinion and talk to us here at Comtec.

One of the things our client wanted to know was “how can we speed up the time it takes to translate this content and still get high-quality translations?”

Since it’s such a popular question, I thought I would share what we recommend to help you deliver multilingual L&D content quickly, and without compromising on quality.

Our e-learning and training translation guide also shares tips for speeding up turnaround times, download your copy here.

How to get fast and effective Learning and Development, e-learning and training translations

    1. Create translation-friendly content

Create content with cross-market appeal.

Where possible, create content with a cross-market appeal that doesn’t require extensive localisation. This avoids any ‘problematic’ elements that might slow down the process.

Avoid culturally specific content.

For faster translations, any content that doesn’t readily translate into another language or is too culturally specific should be avoided. For example, idioms and puns are difficult to translate or find equivalent versions in other languages.

Keep in mind learner engagement.

That said, removing all culturally specific content from your digital learning and training programmes is also not ideal. While it may make the translation and localisation job more straightforward, it could hurt learner engagement.

Consider specific training methods for your key markets.

Content that considers cultural preferences makes learners feel more valued. Using imagery or text that reflects their location and the people they work with, adopting a tone of voice that engages them effectively or including specific training methods for key markets, will increase engagement and learning outcomes.

Check out our webinar Cultural Awareness: Ensuring your learning is truly inclusive to see how different cultural groups learn differently and how improving your cultural competence can improve learning outcomes.

Think about the L&D project holistically.

Fortunately, you can achieve all of this without negatively impacting the translation and localisation process. Just ensure that culturally-specific elements get created in a way that makes them easy to replace with localised versions for each target market. For example, if your content includes images with text overlaid, don’t embed it. Instead, use layers and provide editable files, so only the affected layer requires localisation.

    1. Get your local market review teams on board

Having the right people on your local market review teams makes such a difference to the time it takes to get translations approved and the quality of the final translations. Ideally, they should be native speakers who work in the market and understand the objectives for the training content.

Involve them from the start to help you develop content, create style guides and glossaries of terminology, and agree on review guidelines. This way, everyone has a chance to share their input and give the translation team all the information they need to do a great job. Getting your local market reviewers on board earlier on reduces review cycles and revisions later in the project.

    1. Establish a process that works for you

Think about the process collectively.

The process is everything if you want effective and speedy translations! Even if you’re only translating small volumes of content for one market, it makes sense to put in place a framework that’s easy to scale if your organisation expands further, or if your content requirements increase.

Centralise your translations for fewer headaches.

We recommend centralising all translations, instead of using a different local translation agency in each market. It’s hard to ensure that all language versions meet your standards when you work with multiple providers. There’s a risk that staff in one country won’t get the same quality of content as their colleagues in another.

Project managing multiple teams can be challenging, especially when you need all the language versions to be delivered and signed off to a strict deadline! Working with one translation partner, who reports to your central L&D team, really speeds up the translation process for multilingual projects.

The processes you establish are also crucial for fast and efficient translations. Speak to your existing translation partner about the way you work and how they can support you. As well as recommending processes to put in place, they should also be willing to adapt their processes to make it as easy as possible for you.

As you can see, there are several things to factor in when translating L&D, e-learning and training content. I’ve only really brushed the surface. There are plenty of other things to think about, like text expansion, fonts, foreign characters and other technical considerations, all of which have the potential to slow down the translation process if they’re not anticipated.

We’ve created a free-to-download guide to support your next steps in L&D translations. It’s packed with tips and advice!

For further info on how we can help you with your translation queries or requirements, please give our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email We’re always happy to talk translation!