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. 

My Role

User Research, Personas, Wireframes, Story Boards, Interface Design, Branding, Illustration, Art Direction

Tools Used

Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere

Timeline

6 weeks

Collaborators

Jenni Sands

Problem

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. 

Goal

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. 

Solution

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. 

"Through learning another language and culture, people become more effective problem-solvers, closer to achieving solutions to pressing social problems because of an increased awareness of a wider set of options.” – ACTFL 

Research and Discovery

Survey

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: 

Children ages 10 - 18 learn best with competitive, contextual systems, and with the aid of peers and instructors.

Currently, too much time is spent on memorizing grammatical structures, and not enough time is spent on real time conversation.

If done correctly, gaming can set up a system that shows skill development and establishes a fun and flexible framework.

Language and is a key part of motivation and encouragement for kids.

Personas  

Madison – The High Achiever
16 years old
High School Student
On the Debate Team

Studies Mandarin

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

Plays Hearthstone
Studies French

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
Runs Track
Studies Spanish

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.

YAK! App

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. 

Information Architecture
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.

Video Storyboard  
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.

Stakeholder Video

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.