Learning languages by virtually meeting people from other cultures.
UX Case Study
Figma / Figjam
“One fact we’re particularly proud of is that there are more people learning languages on Duolingo in the US than there are people learning languages in the entire US public school system.”
— Luis van Ahn, CEO of Duolingo
“Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language.”
— Frank Smith, psycholinguist
The world is more connected than ever, and despite the countless translation sources, there is nothing like understanding a language and its idiosyncrasies. Learning a foreign language has a unique way of connecting people from different backgrounds and bringing them together.
How can the user experience in learning a foreign language on Duolingo be improved?
We first did research on language learning methods. We also found input on how people thought they best learned a language versus what professional language teachers believed to be best. People who had to live in different countries emphasized the importance of immersing and communicating with the locals.
Bottom line: In order to reach proficiency, the language learner needs to see progress through participation.
Based off our secondary research, we put together a set of questions to send out to language learners.
Survey Findings (58 responses)
User Interviews (5 interviews)
We gathered and categorized all the data we obtained.
“Cultural immersion right at your fingertips.
Meet a new face, learn a new language.”
Duolingo learners want to engage with native speakers and understand cultural contexts so that they can feel proficient and recognize progress in their target language.
How might we create an immersive language learning experience for Audre (persona)?
We looked at the problem from Audrey’s perspective.
How might we get her to learn Spanish fluently enough to be able to connect with her boyfriend’s latino family?
— have her practice with native Spanish speakers
How might we get her to practice with native Spanish speakers?
— create a space where she can converse to Spanish speakers during times that work with her schedule
How might we get native Spanish speakers to help Audrey learn their language and culture?
— have Audrey help them in return by practicing english and sharing her culture with them
We brainstormed ways to implement a space for language exchange in Duolingo’s environment. After several iterations, my team and I decided on aspects we thought worked best and put it together to make one coherent flow.
We then sketched out screens based on the user flow before beginning work on the prototype.
To the right is a draft illustrating what the user sees from start to finish of the language exchange portion.
As a team, we put together all of our sketches and discussed screens to take out, combine, or alter.
Next, we transformed our sketches into medium fidelity prototypes. We had time to perform a couple user tests before creating high fidelity work.
Here are examples of the transformation: