Goodhabitz

Moving Forward on cultural learning: a discussion with Head of Localisation María Rosales

In the age of themultilingual workforce and AI translations, you may be wondering if localisation matters. When it comes to learning, however,studies show thatit’s vital. Localisation isn’t just making sure that the translation conveys the intended concept rather than a literal translation of each word. It’s about making sure that educational content is suited to the learner. In this episode of Moving Forward, we explore these nuances with GoodHabitz’ Head of Localisation María Rosales. You can listen to it here or get the key takeaways from her responses to the three statements we posed to her.

#1: English learning content is perfect for a multilingual workforce.

In fact, research shows that you learn better in your mother tongue. It’strue that, in many places, English is the language of international business. But that doesn’t mean that people learn new topics or ideas as thoroughly in English as in their mother tongue. Even employees who are fluent speakers may find their focus being pulled from the topic to the language in which it’s being presented.

“One of the things that we see is an increase in the cognitive load,” explains María.“So, your brain is so busy deciphering the words that it then doesn't have the energy to actually gain the knowledge.” Maríaespecially sees that with courses on digital skills. If the topic is already challenging, the additional layer of translating can further frustrate learners. This is especially true if the vocabulary is either new or being used in a different way, which can be common with digital skills.Words like affinity, breadcrumb, or optimisation have digital nuances that add yet another layer for someone learning in a second language.

Another pitfall is not doing the cultural translation. As María notes,“Imagine that you are learning about how to manage your finances, but all of the examples are about the UK retirement plan. Or I'm giving you ideas for products in UK banks. Or the examples are in pounds about how much you should be saving. Of course, you would be thinking: how does this apply to me?”

#2: Localisation is a luxury.

“It’s definitely not a luxury,” María stated firmly, “especially if you are going for an effective and inclusive learning environment.”Localisation isn’tjust about language. It’s about all of the cultural nuances. Are the facts, figures, and quotes applicable and understandable to the target audience? Sometimes even visual elements need to be tweaked to make them more understandable and accessible in a different cultural context.

An easy example would be a first aid course from the UK sent to offices across Europe. The obvious change would be switching from UK units to the metric system. Even within the EU, however, there are many different country-level laws that would apply to what is taught.That’s why María believes that localisation specialists don’t just need to be native speakers; they also need a native’s understanding of the culture.

In fact, the process of localisation is itself a refinement process. Maríalaid out how it works. “Imagine that we are localising a course about a mental health topic. The specialistcould say that this could be a sensitive topic or that we need to approach it in a different way.” Based on that response, GoodHabitz would revise the training, which would then go back to the specialist.“So, it's actually a constant feedback loop.”

#3: Culture creates the context for learning.

This one is true at every level. “Context is everything,” María asserts.“If I'm not understanding the references, it is not going to be relevant for me.Therefore,I'm going to stop paying attention.”

The cultural context isn’tjust important for courses about concrete topics like digital skills. Cultural context matters hugely when localising courses on soft skills. For example, a course on negotiation needs to be very differentfor someone from India than for someone from Portugal. They’ve grown up with a different framework around communication and negotiation, so the course guidelines need to take that into account.

Cultural values can also define how people need to learn. Some cultures lean towards visual learning, rather than verbal instruction. Others lean towards detailed instructions. Obviously, every individual is unique, but their cultural context can affect how they learn and that is a crucial factor in localisation.

“There are many studies which highlight that, overall, there are those specific cultural differences,”María explained. “Some people prefer to learn in groups because they value more community, for example.Other groups will prefer detailed instructions while others need more context.”

Overall, localisation of learning content is all about making sure employees get the information they need in the way that they are most likely to understand and retain it. In a world where upskilling is so crucial, that makes localisation a necessity.

Want to listen to
the full podcast episode?

Discover more of María Rosales' insights, tips and tricks in our podcast episode 'Mastering multilingual workforce training'.

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