How to Create One Storyline Course with Multiple Languages

One of the most powerful benefits of e-learning is the ability to reach learners wherever they are—anywhere in the world. But that perk also presents an additional question: How do you create and manage e-learning content when your audience speaks different languages?

Many organizations tackle this challenge by building multiple courses—one for each language they support. While that approach works, it often increases production time and costs. And it can lead to frustrating reporting headaches if you’re tracking completions.

Instead, why not streamline development by creating one course for everyone? Thanks to the power of layers, variables, states, and triggers, you can quickly fulfill this linguistic feat of e-learning awesomeness all within a single Storyline 360 course! Not only that, Storyline 360 offers multiple ways to make this work.

So let’s take a closer look at three of the most popular methods you can try.

The Branching Method

Many folks use the branching method to create different scenes in their projects, one for each language. When the course begins, learners choose from one of several language options. That choice then prompts a “jump to scene” trigger that directs them to the appropriate scene.

Watch this short video to see how this method works.


  • Branching is probably the simplest way to provide learners with language-specific content.
  • This method also allows you to use layers and states to create a more interactive experience.
  • Storyline 360 can now track multiple quizzes, so you can create an assessment for each language branch. No matter which one a learner takes, the course will send its completion data and results to your LMS.


  • This approach may significantly increase your project’s file size if your course has a lot of audio, video, or animations.
  • Branching is also useful for creating interactive stories, scenarios, and content. But using it for both content choices and supporting multiple languages can make development complex. In those situations, the two techniques below are often a better fit.

The Layers Method

When branching isn’t the best option, you can instead add layers on your course slides—one for each language you support. Similar to the previous process, learners select their preferred language at the start. But instead of branching to a different scene, this approach uses true/false variables and a few simple timeline triggers to show the appropriate layer throughout the course.

Watch this short video to see how this method works.


  • All your content is streamlined across one set of slides.
  • You can use custom states to keep things from feeling too static.


  • Typically, layers are used to add interactivity to your course. But this gets complicated when you also have multiple layers on each slide for different languages. Because of that, this method works best when you can create the course interactivity you need without additional layers.

The States and Triggers Method

The states and triggers technique is similar to the previous one, but it uses object states instead of layers to display content in each language. It begins much like the others—with learners choosing their preferred language on the title slide. Thanks to true/false variables and triggers, each slide in the course then automatically shows the correct object states.

This one’s a bit easier to see than to explain, so here’s a video demonstrating how it works.


  • Much like the layers approach, with states all your content is streamlined across one set of slides.
  • This technique leaves your layers free, making it easier to create interactive content.
  • Once you’ve built an object with all the correct states and triggers, it’s quick and easy to copy and paste and carry over the triggers.


  • Adding translated text to object states can be a bit tedious.
  • Changing object states means using more triggers as well—more than the other two methods.
  • This approach tends to get in the way of using object states for other interactivity functions, such as adding a hover effect to your translated buttons.

Additional Considerations

Regardless of which method you choose, here are a few more things to keep in mind when creating a single Storyline 360 course with multiple languages:

  • Course Player Labels: You can only choose one language for the course player text labels (the menu, the resources tab, the navigation buttons, etc.), which can be a challenge if some of your learners don’t understand that language. In those cases, try these workarounds:
    • Create a navigation primer in your course for each language. Check out this article to see some examples and learn more. 
    • Skip the built-in course player menu altogether. Instead, build a custom menu on your slides with navigation buttons for each language your course supports. Check out this free download for some custom menu design inspiration.
    • If you’re comfortable working with Javascript, this forum thread offers codes you can use to change the course player button labels on a slide-by-slide basis.
  • Text Expansion: Content in one language may take up more or less layout space when translated to another. For instance, German copy can take up as much as 35% more space than the same information in English. So when planning your layout, base it around the lengthiest language to ensure each translation will fit.
  • Production Schedule: Even with the help of these time-saving approaches, a multi-language course will always take more effort to create than a monolingual one. So make sure your timeline takes the additional steps into account. For example, consider the time it takes to get translations, hire voice talent for each language, and have fluent speakers review your translated storyboards and scripts.
  • When Separate Files Are More Efficient: The methods in this article work best if you plan to include up to three languages in a single course. If you need to support more than three languages, separate project files may be the more efficient option.


Thanks to the flexibility of Storyline 360, you’ve got several options for creating content in multiple languages—each with its own strengths and drawbacks. So before you start building your course, consider which one is the best fit for you and your learners’ needs.

Want to learn more about translating and localizing content? Browse through these articles for even more tips:

What’s your preferred method for working with multiple languages? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share with others? Leave them in a comment below.

Want to try something you learned here but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

Nadine Monn

This year, I built my organization's first multilingual tutorials (English, Spanish, and Korean). Because we didn't have a lot of built-in interactivity, and we were limited to demo sites for screen captures, I used the layers method. Translation was accomplished in-house by our bilingual staff. The viewer selected the preferred language on the second screen (the title one displayed "Begin" in all three languages), and the remainder of the tutorial's content displayed in the preferred language. The only difficulty came with the Glossary and Resources sections on the player unit. Our work-around was to use a three-letter abbreviation (ENG, ESP, KOR) to designate the language used for each entry. You can view them in action here: Employer Decision Support (http://pensions.adobec... Expand

Tom Kuhlmann
Lloyd Hill
Dean Peters
Thomas Gora

I can share the general process that I use to create a single SL course with multiple languages. Happy to receive feedback or hear from others on their approach. 1. Create and finalize the English version SL project. 2. Create copies (Save as) of the English version for each language needed. 3. Translate the other language versions using the SL Translate export/import tools. 4. Create a new SL project which will be the Multilanguage (ML) version of the training. 5. The structure of the ML version should have a single slide/scene where the learner can select a language. the buttons/triggers on the language selector slide should jump to separate scenes that you create for each language. 6. Go into each scene and import the slides from your translated single language SL files. 7. Go... Expand

Andrew Miller

I lead a Project Management team in the translation industry and work with Articulate Storyline and Rise files very often. We recommend against building language selection inside the course as seen above with the layering and branching methods. We instead promote Thomas' solution of duplicating the English course and localizing those duplicates. This is optimal for both translation production and long term maintenance. The major reason is Articulate built a feature to export editable source text as XLIFF, which is the de facto file format for translation. If the course is multilingual then these files are essentially corrupted and cannot be used by modern translation technology. Instead the linguist would have to translate directly on the Articulate course, meaning tools like transl... Expand