When her grandmother turned 80, Christina Hayek — Arabic Language Manager at Google — and her sisters wanted to give their beloved sitto a gift that would bring her closer to them. Chadia lives in Lebanon but her children and grandchildren are spread across the world. To bridge this geographical gap, Christina and her siblings gave their grandmother an Android smartphone. Much to Chadia’s surprise, she was able to use her phone in Arabic straight out of the box.
This isn’t magic—it’s the work of a dedicated localization team at Google. Spread over more than 30 countries, our team makes sure that all Google products are fun and easy to use in more than 70 languages. Localization goes beyond translation. While references to baseball and donuts work well in the US, these are not necessarily popular concepts in other cultures. Therefore we change these, for example, to football in Italy and croissant in France. Our mission is to create a diverse user experience that fits every language and every culture. We do this through a network of passionate translators and reviewers who localize Google products to make sure they sound natural to people everywhere.
With more and more people from around the world coming online every day, the localization industry keeps growing—and so does the demand for great translators, reviewers, and localization professionals. So, as part of Google’s mission to build products for everyone and make the web globally accessible, no matter where users are, we’re launching a massive open online course (MOOC) called Localization Essentials. In the words of Peter Lubbers, Google's Head of Developer Training:
"The language industry is one of the fastest growing in the world today, and as a former Internationalization Product Manager (and Dutch translator), I am absolutely thrilled that we've added Localization Essentials to our Google/Udacity training course catalog. The course is now available—free of charge—to students all over the world. This was a huge cross-functional effort; a large team of localization experts across Google came together and rallied to create this course. It was great to see how everybody poured their heart and soul into this effort and it really shows in the course quality."
Localization Essentials was developed in collaboration with Udacity, and is free to access. It covers all localization basics needed to develop global products. This is how Bert Vander Meeren, Director of Localization at Google, described the collaboration:
“Today, localization is becoming more and more important because the internet user base is growing rapidly, especially in non-English speaking countries. At the same time, education opportunities in the field are limited. This is an issue for our team and any business in need of large numbers of localization resources. So we decided to take the lead and address the issue, because who knows localization better than dedicated localization professionals with years of experience? Udacity already helped us develop and host several successful courses for Android developers, so this partnership was more than logical. This course is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get knowledge and new skills in a still lesser-known field that’s important to develop products for a truly global audience. Whether you are a student, a professional, or an entrepreneur, you will learn a lot and expand your horizons.”
By sharing our knowledge we hope that more culturally relevant products will become available to users everywhere, to provide opportunities to them that they didn’t have before.
We’re looking forward to seeing how sharing this localization knowledge will impact users from all over the world.