In a conversation at a user group meeting, we were talking about options for adding foreign language to our products and the need for training in local language. Like many companies, we've made the effort to internationalize, but there is so much more to be done. The comment that I got today was that these customers don't particularly need local language for the software -- using the software is passive knowledge -- what is needed is that the training should be offered in the local language.
On the other hand, in training users get to think about their problems and ask questions. This is technical knowledge that's being discussed. It's hard to hear it in another language, even one where you might be proficient, and translate that into how you work. Even more, it is difficult to ask detailed, technical questions outside of your mother tongue. It is this active knowledge that is much harder to manage in another language. Having trainers who understand the language (or who's mother tongue is something other than English, so both sides have to work at translation), is much more important than converting the software for local language. And... it should be lots cheaper.
[Of course, there continue to be new markets for our products where local language in the software may be of more value.]
Has this idea of active / passive knowledge come up before? There is a connection, I suspect, to implicit / tacit / explicit. But this articulation of it seems to make more sense. At least it did a few hours ago as we were talking.