Duolingo Redesign

“Learners with good English pronunciation are likely to be understood even if they make errors in other areas, whereas learners with bad pronunciation will not be understood, even if their grammar is perfect. Such learners may avoid speaking in English, and experience social isolation, employment difficulties and limited opportunities for further study.

Pourhosein Gilakjani, A. P. (2012).

Project Type
Interaction Design, Experience Design

Role
Research, Wireframing, Visual Design, Prototyping, Content Strategy, Mockups

Context
This is an individual project inspired from Duolingo application. As a second-language learner, I learned a lot using Duolingo, but also think that there are space for improvement for Duolingo.

Tools
Figma, Adobe XD

Deliverables
Final Presentation
Final Adobe XD Prototype

DuoSpeak provides speaking lessons, aiding learners in language comprehension with confidence as well as increasing engagement with Duolingo’s application. 

OVERVIEW

Problem

Design a feature that provide language-learners a comprehensive language learning experience.

RESEARCH

Understanding the Needs of Second Language-Learners

To be fluent in a language, students have to improve 4 foundational skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. I chose Duolingo as the main application for my feature because of its user-friendly interface and its interactive gamification.

When working with an already-established application, I often look for its user reviews in App Store, Android Play Store, and its forum community. This exercise was a great start because it allows a greater access to observing a large number of users’ pain points.

Then, I talked with users who previously and currently using Duolingo to have a deeper understanding about how Duolingo can still need to improve on language-learner comprehensibility. Realizing different languages have its unique challenges, I set up interviews with 5 students have used Duolingo to learn second and third-languages.

  • 2 interviews with students learning Chinese
  • 1 interview with a student learning Japanese
  • 1 interview with a student learning French
  • 1 interview with a student learning Vietnamese

Driving Insights and Takeaways

Limited feedbacks on speakers’ prosody quality in words and sentences

Speech anxiety due to bad pronunciations/accents

With limited feedbacks from online language platforms, students have a difficult time hearing their own pronunciation mistakes, which which caused communication and comprehension difficulties for the students.

International students are anxious in communicating to native speakers.

Reframing Problem Statement

Design a Pronunciation Assistance feature that allows students to hear their pronunciation mistakes, assess their intelligibility from by receiving personalized feedbacks and visual displays .

PROCESS

Driving from my reading and research about a Goal-Directed Design method, I applied this method to translate research results into design solutions in a faster manner. I organized my research points to visualize my collected insights.

Defining Learner’s Speaking Goals

I investigated how learners perceive pronunciation and its goals in reducing their accent in language pronunciation production so that they achieve a pronunciation that is indistinguishable from native speakers.

Sticky notes brainstorming project’s goals

Identifying Frictions and Opportunities

From this, I was able to identify clear pain points, and frictions students felt when connecting with others, and on the platform as a whole. By answering How Might We questions, I would able to convert frictions to opportunities that are applicable to the final solution’s features.

Sticky notes brainstorming project’s frictions & opportunities

Ideating Solutions

As a results from identifying frictions and opportunities that language learners facing with speaking, I brainstormed different features I want to tackle and consider to implement it to my final solutions.

Personalized Feedback

Mimicking Model Speakers

Visual Displays for Pronunciation Mistakes

With the individualized instruction, students can spend more time on their areas of weakness, and students get feedback on their specific utterances instead of feedback which attempts to address generic mistakes.

Practicing one chosen sound and recording it, comparing the sound and waveform of their own voice with those of the native speaker and practicing selected words and sentences.

It shows specific sounds and the correct percentage that learners struggle.

Sticky notes brainstorming project’s solutions

Content Strategy

Working on content strategy helps me to define the tones for DuoSpeak writing, while allowing me to follow the branding guidelines from the original Duolingo.

Leveraging Information Seeking Behaviour. 

Boosting Confidence and Trust Through Design 

The accessibility of recording sounds and providing feedbacks is improved by leveraging audio speed and record features to compare the pronunciation with the model.

Recognizing the need to fix bad habits in pronunciation starting from initial words, content is designed to be consistent from words to conversations. It encourages learners to apply new vocabulary learning from the Dashboard to practice speaking regarding to different topics. Eventually, it aims to equip language-learners to be confident in daily speaking and fix bad habits in mispronunciation. 

Project Goals

  • Create a comprehensive language-learning community that is accessible to both native speakers and learners to get help with their learning journey.
  • Reduce frictions and complexity in practicing speaking while fixing learner’s bad accents.
  • Build confidence in communicating new languages. 

Identifying Our Primary Audience

To uncover my research about student behaviours, goals, needs, or frustration, I created a persona to get a holistic view of my solution.

User persona

Language Learner’s Journey Map & User Flowchart

Language learner’s journey map

By looking at the big picture to see the full journey of users using Duolingo then navigating to DuoSpeak as part of their features, I iterated DuoSpeak after users learn the vocabulary section, which allows them to practice speaking words they have recently learned. By perfecting their speaking and memorization of new words, users feel easier when practicing listening because they can visualize the words by the correct sounds/pronunciation.

SOLUTION

Sketches

Before finalizing my concept, I gathered all features to keep track in my sketch and see how feasible those features can be applied to the prototype. I then explored through quick pen-and-paper sketches to iterate the form and understand how users would move through the experience.

Initial sketching of the project

Feature Mockups

Digital mockup using Adobe XD

REFLECTION

Moving Forward

Given more time, I think it would be necessary to explore different patterns of prosody from different languages to update how users can improve their speaking mistakes. I believe additional consideration towards how DuoSpeak avoid duplication some tasks that already existed in the current Duolingo app will completely revamp the learner’s learning process.