Understanding internationalization in Tahoe & Open edX

The ability to offer a learning experience to users across the globe is a primary purpose of online learning. It's one of the most basic reasons you would offer courses online as opposed to in person. It even enables you to offer learning experiences to learners who may speak different languages. 

With Tahoe, you can achieve this with what we at Appsembler call internationalization (i18n, for short). Internationalization gives you the tools you need to properly 'localize' your Tahoe site and Open edX courses. 

This doc will give you an overview of how i18n applies to the different parts of Tahoe, as well as how it might evolve in the future. 

Note: Our Translation and Internationalization features are part of the Pro and Premium plans

Open edX

What is translated

The translation of Open edX as a platform extends to all parts of the user interface. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to things like: 

  • Menu items & buttons
  • The LMS dashboard
  • Account settings
  • System emails
  • Theme pieces
  • XBlock UI's
  • Anything else a user might interact with that is not site or course content

What is not translated

Course content must be explicitly written in the language(s) your learners can understand. If a certain language pack is installed on your Tahoe site, it does not mean your course content will automatically be available in that language. You must write course content in the actual language(s) you wish to offer. Read more about creating multilingual courses here: Creating multilingual courses in Open edX.

Similarly, Tahoe site content outside your Open edX courses - on things like your landing page and static pages - is not automatically translated. You will need to write the content for your pages in each language you would like it to offer. Read more about that here: Translating and localizing your Tahoe Pro site.

How Open edX is translated

To add language support in Open edX you will need a language pack installed. This is a technical process handled by Appsembler engineers.

Once a particular language pack is available and installed, Open edX will be displayed automatically in the language that matches a user's browser settings. Users can also choose from the available languages on their account settings page

Who does the translating

Open edX, as you may know, is an open source learning platform. The translation of this platform is therefore handled by the community, via an organization called Transifex. You can see the public page for the Open edX project on Transifex here. On that page, edx-platform is the primary sub-project to pay attention to. edx-platform is the codebase that runs Open edX.

You can see that Open edX is translated into 133 different languages. However, those translations are all at widely-varying levels of completion. French (Canada) is at 99.2%*, for example, whereas Romanian is at 18.5%*. This is part of the reason that Appsembler only supports specific languages, as we require they be at high levels of completion.

* Language translation statuses as of Dec 9, 2019.

Studio

If you have course authors writing courses in various languages, you may want them to have Studio's user interface translated into the languages they're working in.

Good news! Studio is a part of Open edX, so it also automatically translated by language packs. If a course author isn't seeing Studio in their preferred language, they can change their language in the LMS and Studio will update as well. 

Appsembler Management Console

The user interface for the Appsembler Management Console itself - where you can build and theme your Open edX site - is not currently translated. 

However, using the language selector tool on the management console's page-builder, you can create an Open edX site that displays different content depending on the browser language settings of the user accessing the site. This is crucial for giving you a high degree of control over how you communicate with your learners and prospective learners. 

While it's common for modern web browsers to have an auto-translating tool, these are far from perfect. We strongly recommend against relying on these tools. Writing the content yourself guarantees you are able to communicate clearly and effectively.

Supported Languages

The currently supported languages are listed below. These are languages that are available to Tahoe Pro and Premium customers:

  • English
  • French (Canada)
  • Japanese
  • Spanish (Latin America)
  • Portuguese (Brazil)

What does "supported" mean?

When we say these languages are supported, we mean that we have vetted them, confirmed that they are functional on all parts of Tahoe, and contain very few missing parts/mistranslations. In the event that one of those missing pieces is found, we commit to working with you to improve the translation.

If you find errors in a translation, please contact support@appsembler.com.

Will we be adding more languages?

There are currently no plans to add additional supported languages. However, our feature roadmap is fluid and subject to change based on what we hear from our customers. Compelling use cases and needs are great ways to influence the features on the Appsembler roadmap.

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