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14 October 2020

Multilingual LMS: teach your learners in different languages

Kenny McCormack

Kenny McCormack

Senior Solutions Architect

It doesn’t matter how many countries you operate in or how many languages are spoken by your learners, you can still provide a consistent learning experience by using a multilingual LMS.

For international organisations intent on delivering learning of a consistently high standard to learners around the world, there has traditionally been two main hurdles to overcome: language and distance.

A learning management system (LMS) clears both of these hurdles. Online learning doesn’t discriminate by distance: it provides learners with the same learning experience regardless of whether they are based in the same building as you or on the other side of the world.

And as long as the planning and setup is done correctly, an LMS needn’t discriminate by language either. You can have a learning platform that teaches each of your learners in their native tongue, while avoiding having to rely on a third-party to relay the information to them.

Let’s take a look at how you can use an LMS to teach your learners in different languages.


LMS language packs

The easiest way to introduce a multilingual LMS is by using language packs.

Totara Learn currently has 36 language packs available, including French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and many other languages. These can easily be installed on your site. Once language packs are installed, you can rely on Totara’s auto-detect functionality (which applies the user’s browser language to Totara) or override this by choosing a default language for the site. There is also the option of displaying a language menu from which users can select their preferred language.

Similarly, Moodle LMS has more than 100 language packs available to install on your site. These are created by translators contributing to the open-source code. Moodle suggests that more than 20 language packs can be installed on your site with no noticeable impact on performance.


Custom language development

If a language pack isn’t available in a language you need or is unsuitable for your requirements, custom language development is an option. We have created bespoke language functionality to meet specific needs.


Single site, multiple sites or multi-tenancy sites

As we’ve mentioned above, you can have multiple language packs installed on a single LMS. By using auto-detect or user selected languages, you can create translated versions of your learning platform.

In some cases this might not be appropriate. Perhaps your learners in different locations undertake very different forms or training or are governed by different legal requirements. You might need multiple versions of your learning platform to cover different markets. Initially, this was achieved by creating multiple sites featuring as many different versions and languages as needed.

A far easier way to achieve and maintain the same result is through multi-tenancy sites, which can be created on Totara Learn and Moodle Workplace. You only need a single implementation of the platform, but can create tenancies or sub-sites to serve each of your audiences. In this case, you could have a different tenancy for each language you need.

Since the multi-tenancy sites are all controlled centrally, you avoid the need to duplicate work in the creation and administration of the platform. For instance, you will be able to pull the same reports for each tenancy to get a complete picture of training across the organisation.


Examples of using a multilingual LMS to teach learner in different languages

We’ve worked on several multilingual learning platforms over the years. Generally, these sites have been for global organisations who want to provide consistent training in order to yield consistent service worldwide.


Western Union

One such example is financial services company Western Union. We worked with the money transfer giant to create the world’s largest Totara Learn LMS by user base to deliver training to 500,000 agents in 50 different languages. This was achieved through language packs and some custom language development. Learn more about Western Union’s LMS.



Industrial supplies company Rubix operates in 22 European countries and wanted to provide consistent product information and sales training to all of its 8,000 employees. We created a Totara Learn platform that provides standardised training in seven languages.


Sinclair Pharma

For aesthetics company Sinclair Pharma, operating Western Europe, US, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil, and via distributors in Asia, North America, Latin America and the Middle East, had made it very difficult to build the sort of relationships it wanted with physicians.

It wanted to deliver a training programme that would maintain consistency in best practice, health and safety and patient outcomes when working with its products, but the pharmaceutical industries traditional travelling rep model was unworkable. Having dabbled with a makeshift online training platform, the Totara Learn platform we built, which includes multiple translated versions, has improved training completion rates dramatically. Learn more about Sinclair Pharma’s LMS.


What are your multilingual LMS requirements?

For a chat about creating a multilingual LMS and start teaching your learners in multiple languages, just fill out the form below and we’ll give you a call.



Request a Callback. It’s easy!

Whether it’s about upgrading your current platform, starting from scratch with an LMS of your choice or you need guidance on where to begin, we’ll be happy to help!


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