YAK! Foreign Language Education App
Foreign language learning is a challenge for educators and students alike. YAK! is an application that supplements school curriculum to create a gamified foreign language education experience in Spanish, French, and Chinese. In its current state, YAK! acts as a piece of stakeholder facing, UX storytelling.
As the world grows more and more global, America is falling even further behind on foreign language learning and fluency. From middle school and into high school foreign language is a mandatory area of study, yet there is often a steep drop off in interest and study fairly early on in the learning process. Language education is challenging, repetitive, and often not very fun.
Engage middle and high school students in foreign language education by focusing on adaptive and contextual education that moves away from the tedium of repetition models. Create a stakeholder facing video that presents a minimum viable product.
YAK! Incorporates adaptive AI technology and merges it with and educational gaming system to create a system that supplements foreign language curriculums at a elementary, middle, and high school level.
Research and Discovery
In order to better understand the problems surround foreign language education and learning behaviours in students aged 10 – 18 we conducted user research, user interviews, and a literature review. Below are our key takeaways:
Madison – The High Achiever
16 years old
High School Student
On the Debate Team
Madison has been studying Mandarin since Middle School and she loves it, but she wants something more challenging than a textbook to help her push her language skills to the next level.
Emily – The Bored Student
12 Years Old
Middle School Student
Emily just started learning French, and so far she’s just not that into it. She’s following along okay in the classroom, but she gets bored doing her homework and isn’t practicing as much as her teachers would like her to
Blake – The Reluctant Participant
17 Years Old
High School Student
Blake started studying Spanish in High School and doesn’t enjoy it very much. He is often too nervous to practise in class where others can hear him, which causes him to often fall behind in lessons, homework, and overall retention.
Visual Style and Branding
In order to appeal to middle and high school age students I designed a logo that would fit next to Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp which are the some of the most used apps for this age group. I continued this use of bold color and gradients into YAK!’s mascot, duly named YAK.
I developed the information architecture for the overall site. Our research and formation of user personas led to the introduction of a gaming system, user profile and point system, lesson modes, and adaptive A.I. functionality.
Onboarding User Flow
While it would not end up the final video, it was important that we establish the general user flow for account creation and onboarding. During this phase users would enter their fluency level, current curriculum, and undergo a fluency test so that the A.I could adapt to their needs and set realistic challenges.
Storyboarding and Whiteboarding
As a piece of UX storytelling, Jenni and I combined whiteboarding practices with story boarding to establish user interaction and engagement in addition to creating a narrative for the final video. Since YAK! is an application that will be used by a variety of age groups decided to create an interface that was very graphic, using bold colors and shapes to have clear call outs for variable and important information. Almost all activities lead to the user gaining experience points which can then be used to gain digital stickers and unlock activities, it is important to have a progress bar represented on most pages. Establishing and attachment to the A.I. YAK character is also an important factor in engagement, so screens hint that they talking to the user the entire time they use the app.
In order to create a product pitch for stakeholders, we created a story that was centered around a user. Due to this, the video also acts a kind of persona that leads the viewer through YAK’S main features and tasks.
Final Solution – Stakeholder Video
For the final video, Jenni and I animated our video in AfterEffects to create a fun and playful feel, while showcasing YAK!’s functionality. I created the illustrated assets and UI for the video, in addition to directing the voice talent.