Professional dilemmas

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Q  I have been asked to
research the availability of multilingual e-learning programmes for general business
skills. Can you tell me how common multilingual programmes are and what I
should be looking out for when I buy the training?

A  E-learning enables many
multinational organisations to implement successful and consistent training
programmes worldwide, and there are many companies providing multilingual
e-learning. However, there are several issues you need to consider prior to
choosing a provider.

Firstly, make sure you have a thorough strategy in place. Your programme
will only be successful if it is targeted and provides a relevant solution to
the user, regardless of which office or country they are based in. The
challenge is to ensure you offer a programme that is a quality global and local
solution, no matter where you are based.

Secondly, watch out for poorly translated products. Good quality e-learning
needs the expertise of both subject-matter experts, with the knowledge of
relevant applications, and localisation experts, who are highly skilled in the
native language.

Translating e-learning requires more than a straight translation of words.
It must be precise and matched to the application being taught. Check that
simulations and multimedia have been translated. With video content, it can be
annoying if voices are dubbed, so this is another aspect to consider.

Thirdly, make sure that the provider you choose has adapted its courses to
take into account cultural differences – this is particularly important for
localising business skills courses. A course on Microsoft Office is going to be
much the same the world over, but for interview or management skills, you have
to consider culture. Simply translating a course doesn’t allow for subtle
differences in how business is carried out.

To get the most out of your programme, choose a provider that has offices in
all the countries where you intend rolling out the training. This will ensure
you have support, advice and expertise at hand.

Response provided by Nige Howarth, vice-president of international
marketing at e-learning provider NETg,

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