Language Acquisition Project

UX Research

Key Goal

It may be difficult for West Germanic language speakers to learn language and vice-versa. Tone is the use of pitch  in language  to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning. We’re going to explore ways to incorporate effective learning methods to help users acquire a new language to develop into a new product.

Responsibilities

Usability study Memrise, Interviews, Survey, Usability study read, write, and speak Thai

Timeline

Project timeline: 11 weeks

Tools

Photoshop, Keynote and Mechanical Turk
image of memrise's language apps language list

Methodologies & Key Questions

Usability testing Memrise / Read Speak Write Thai

  • Do users find the pronunciation model useful and if not why?
  • Would users like to have the ability to communicate with competition
  • Are color coding tones effective?

Interviews

  • What keeps the language learner consistent in learning to proficiency?
  • Are there any common techniques used to learn a new language?
  • Has the language learner used any digital products that assisted them on their language learning journey?
  • Has the language learner used any digital products that assisted them on their language learning journey?

Survey

  • What are the language learners motivations and goals?
  • What is the primary use of that digital product? (podcast, interactive app, music or movies)

Executive Overview

User research found that:

  • Learning the pronunciation tool was useful but it would be better if a native speaker were to be able to review it as well.
  • Users wanted to be able to communicate with other users that were native in their target language.
  • The most common techniques for language advancement were for participants to communicate with native speakers, listen to music and watch movies
  • Users that were inspired by relationships were more proficient in their target language.

Future efforts should focus on:

  • Gamifying language learning with clear instructions, live feedback, and the ability to communicate with target native language users
  • What is the primary use of that digital product? (podcast, interactive app, music or movies)

References:

Picture of a language view list in an app called Memrise

Findings - Gamifying

1. Add instructions during the onboarding process by adding a info button to reduce frustration for users.

  • Jeremy wasn’t clear what the flower symbols meant initially and wants more information at the start of the game.
  • All users were initially confused to what to do because there were no instructions.

2. Start a game with least amount of steps as possible.

  • All 4 participants assumed the icons lead to another page
  • Victor thought the button should be blue or green, red is more of an exit or stop color.
image of game list on an iPad for the app read, speak, write Thai

3. Users want live feedback

  • All participants found this feature useful, and two participants suggested that they’d like this feature even more if your voice recording could be rated and reviewed by a native speaker.
  • Afiya wanted to see a feature where you could compare your performance and get recommendations for improvement

“It’s useful for everyday practice ” - Jessica

References:

Findings - Relationships

1. Users that were inspired by relatioships to learn a language were more proficient in their target language.

  • 7 out of  33 participants may speak like a native 6 of the 7 native like speaker’s motivation were from a relationships or has some sort of relationship with a native speaker.
  • Motivation for opportunities in career advancement and communicating with family then friends were the top motivators to learn a target language.

2. Users that were inspired by relatioships to learn a language were more proficient in their target language.

“I started making friends in the neighborhood and they all spoke English it made me want to understand and communicate with my friends. As time went by I started picking up more words and phrases.”
- Amy

“Natural way I learned Thai was from the household and my family was always surrounded by friends… Later I learned English from going to school and making friends.”
- Kitty

References:

Findings - Color code tones, vowels, consonant grid

1. Color code tones and link to more information

  • Wendy a native Thai speaker thought it was a good idea and an effective way to learn tones in the Thai language. However, it needs to be more obvious.
  • Wendy thought the symbol charts was helpful in learning Thai.

Recommendations

The next steps will be to create a paper prototype and do a User usability test on 5 people. The goal is to see how to incorporate the tools and see if users will be engaged with the new options. The contents of the language app will be based off of all the data from all of the studies taken thus far. The app will have flash cards, phrases, tonal color code, users will be able to see their ranking and get feedback on their performance with suggestions on what areas they need to be focused on.

  • Add instructions and links like so users can get more information if ever confused by the game.
  • Create an app that gamify’s language learning in an environment that encourages users to interact with native speakers and vice versa. May be explore options to incentivize ways for native speakers to review, grade and give suggestions to user recordings.
  • Incorporate color to identify tone and have it on the interface so users do not have to think about it. Also, link the color code to standard tones so if a user forgets he/she can refresh to practice correctly.
  • Incorporate color to identify tone and have it on the interface so users do not have to think about it. Also, link the color code to standard tones so if a user forgets he/she can refresh to practice correctly.

Questions to Explore

  • Will users understand the color code for tones presented on the UI quickly?
  • Could gamifying the concept of voice recording with native speaker review be a viable option?
  • Would users be interested in having foreign pop music, movies and clips for learning content?
  • Would users like the idea of incorporating pop music, film clips into the app with interactive lessons?

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