Foreign Languages Learning Applications
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Question: Prepare dissertation on the topic: User experience research with foreign-languages learning applications.
Answer: Literature Review
Introduction: Literature review helps in giving a structural flow to the research problems along with understanding the guide for the research objectives to be fructified. This acts as one of the most important parts of the research as it helps in understanding the various facets, impacts, implications, advantages, disadvantages and many other related things which might not be visible to the researchers in a randomized pattern, but literature review helps in developing the flow of the thoughts and to showcase them in a definitive pattern. The literature review would start with discussing the different aspects of the requirement for learning new languages along with explaining the ways by which the non-English languages are being learnt & persuaded in a traditional manner, This will set the context for understanding the gaps and the ways by which the new & emerging technologies are actually helping in addressing the hindrances and making it easier for the users to learn the non-English new languages with definite objectives. It will be followed by brief description on the ways by which the research would be carried out with the help of User Experience (UX) research tasks. The advantages of this method would be highlighted in accordance with learning the new non-English languages of the world.
Process of Literature Review: The literature review would start with a brief introduction, which provides the link between the aims, objectives and the questions of the research under consideration, followed by analyzing the various factors, parameters and the sub-parameters related to the same. All these would be searched through the secondary sources as available from free search, free databases and the registered databases. While carrying out the research, different websites, peer reviewed journals, blogs, articles, news-items, analyst reports, consultant reports, academic websites, advocacy group reports etc. would be scanned for generating useful insights related to the research under consideration. In order to search the above mentioned areas, use of key-words and phrases would be of high importance as that would help in generating focused artefacts, which when analyzed could help in generating more & more information regarding the research topic under consideration.
Key-words and Phrases: The research under consideration would require use of multiple key words & phrases which when used in the search areas would help develop multiple results, articles, reports, blogs, websites and journals. Some of them are:
• Incentives or Usefulness of learning foreign languages
• Foreign Languages learning pre-requisites
• Methods of learning foreign languages
• Evolution of technologies helping to learn foreign languages
• Impact of emerging technologies on the non-English language learning methods
• UX Research methods for Non-English language Learning
Incentives/Motivation for users to learn foreign languages: In a globalized world, where all the companies are striving to get a pie of the larger market share of the world, more & more people are getting themselves trained in other languages which are helping them to work or collaborate or to negotiate with other nationals. From the perspective of an employer, bilingual employees are more desirable in the job roles, because of the abilities to work in different countries and environment(Cla.auburn.edu, 2017). However, the incentives of the motivation from the perspective of the learners could be summarized as follows:
• One of the primary motivation which incentivizes people to learn foreign language is that of enhanced career options(Rivera, et al., 2012). While this has acted as a major selling point for the foreign language training schools & teachers, learning a different language other than English, learning a new language do provide a competitive positioning of the individuals in comparison to the other people at the same level(Bloomsbury International, 2013). For, an entrepreneur, this might help in the new expansion plan for other countries, while for a service person, it could help in getting more career options in the country where the new acquired language is widely spoken. For a Salesperson, a new language could help in selling items or negotiating the items with that of the buyers.
• For the literature lovers or the history lovers, learning new language could be one of the greatest incentive to understand about the evolution of the new language along with understanding the different perspectives about their own languages(Anjomshoa & Sadighi, 2015). This helps in learning more about the cultural perspectives along with understanding the origin of the languages or the origin of the new culture.
• Becoming a great learner could also be one of the incentive. For some people, learning new things on a daily basis itself act as one of the major incentives for acquiring newer knowledge and newer language skills. It helps in understanding the inefficiencies and the weaknesses, which in turn helps in overcoming the gaps in learning. As per some researcher (Lewis, 2019), learning newer languages could act as a boost towards opening up intelligence.
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• Many people seek to learn language just for the sake of learning new culture and to appreciate the art. Many literature lovers learn foreign languages just to understand the context and the meaning of their art forms, culture and societal outlook. It helps them to get different perspectives of the universes.
• Foreign language helps in creating less prejudices and positive attitudes of the people from varied culture & language(Dörnyei, 1994). As per researchers, foreign language indirectly help in improving upon the analytical skills which in turn could help increase the creativity in the individuals.
• Connection or origin from another country could also act as an incentive for the individuals or the groups to learn a completely new language of their own habitat. There are different groups of native languages across all the countries of the world, who try to promote other languages & culture among others(Merritt, 2013).
• Immigration could be attributed to an indirect motivation or incentive for the immigrants to learn a new language of the country in which they are immigrating, so that they are being able to cope up with the new culture, society & language(Theufuoma.com, 2016).
• Learning a new language could help in lifelong benefits, for example researchers have proved that learning newer languages could help in the maintenance of the memory in times of old age.
English language is not enough - Importance of bilingualism: One of the common & interesting fact is that, as of now, English although being the 2nd most spoken language, but it is regarded as more of a universal language when it comes to major business transactions or due to its presence across all the important business hubs of the world. Even, as of date more than 300 to 400 million Chinese students have also taken the option of learning English as their 2nd languages in order to align themselves to the global world. But when it comes to US, only 0.2 Million people have been registered for courses in Mandarin(Dirks, 2019). If the present trend continues, the world demographics could change massively in the next few decades with only 5% of Native English speakers, while the world getting educated in English. This might rise the importance of knowing other languages so that people could get themselves familiar with other languages & culture. Communicating with the world along with roaming about in new places & environment is also another incentive, which keeps the ball rolling for learning new languages other than English. For example, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language, followed by English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic (Sebastian, 2017). Learning any of the top five widely spoken languages could help the individual to learn their culture or to roam bout in a new place or to collaborate with a significant portion of the world population(Minot, 2018).
While, for many learning a new language other than English could be any one of the above incentives, it could also be a combination of the many as mentioned above. But most, importantly learning new languages prepares the individual to be an active member of the globalized world and for struggling towards global survival as a single community.
Traditional Ways of Learning Foreign languages: For learning a new language, other than English, there are many traditional methods which are being followed across the world. While some are customized and focused, some are quite generic in nature. Some of the common methods, which have gained importance in the past till date are:
Use of Offline methods - This include the use of traditional school or lecture sessions or even speakership session, where lecturer or the guide is responsible for giving lectures and notes in a common language which is common to all the learners.
Use of Books & Study materials - This is also one of the supportive methods, where books from Native Language to Foreign language translation is being provided to the learners, who refer to that book while the lectures are being given along with reading the study materials. Use of library with other book options or use of ready-made customized notes also aid to the objective of making the students familiar with the new languages, which are being taught in class.
Workshops - While learning a new language can pose to be a great barrier, it needs motivation and practicality which is often catered through the arrangement of the workshops, where students are often encouraged to write and speak in foreign languages or to debate in that language or to create a play. It is often followed by quizzes, extempore etc. with an objective of practical engagement of the learners towards the new foreign language. Collaboration is another objective of these types of workshops, where people also learn to work together & learn simultaneously in the new languages.
Self-Study - While lectures, workshops, books and study materials act as the biggest strengths of the traditional methods of learning a new language, self-study is of also immense importance. Self-Study on a regular basis is one of the mandatory requirements, which helps in combining the knowledge and the information being learnt in the class to be imbibed along with learning skills for greater understanding of the languages being taught.
Some of the pre-requisites of learning new language through traditional methods
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While there are many requisites which aids in learning the new language acquisition, some of the basic & focused requirements are:
a. The lecturer or the guide or the tutor or the mentor or the group who will be catering the lessons should be very much fluent in the new language. They should also be very efficient in solving all the problems or the hindrances or the questions or the doubts of the learners.
b. Secondly, there should be availability of a classroom setting which would help accommodate the learners in a single place, so that maximum number of students could be taught simultaneously.
c. Thirdly, all the books, library access, workshop arrangements etc. incur costs, which are normally borne by the students on a sharing basis, so more the number of students, lesser is the cost.
d. Physical presence of the classrooms as well as the regular timings, which on one hand helps in developing a discipline among the students or the learners.
Limitations/Gapsof learning new language through traditional methods: While traditional languages have many benefits of its own, there are subtle disadvantages which often result in the higher attrition rates. Also, the regular timings and time bound study makes it difficult for the slow learners to pick up the pace. While the role of the teacher or the mentor is very important in this context, but this factor is often being ignored. Some of the major limitations, which have resulted in making the traditional methods less attractive are:
• First of all it is very difficult to find teachers who are well abreast with the foreign language and even more difficult is the fact of understanding the capability of the teacher under the conditions of problem solving or solutions approach towards the learners.
• It is even more difficult to find teachers for the specific languages which are not widely spoken. Even if the tutors or the mentors are being found, they charge heavily and thereby add up to the cost of the students & the learners.
• Thirdly, for niche languages, the costs go up significantly because few students opt for the same and even few students actually finish the course.
• While increasing the number of students help in decreasing the costs for the learners, but on the other hand it is even more difficult to maintain higher student to teacher ratio, as that would actually decrease the credibility of teaching.
• Availability of physical space & co-ordination between the different stakeholders often makes it very difficult for the traditional methods to complete the course in time or to stick to the particular guidelines, without disrupting the timeline or the intended full course.
However, these gaps are truly overwhelming and acts as the deterrents to enroll themselves in such classrooms or private coaching, leading to even lesser registration & fewer completion.
Context & things to consider for the new technologies: The advent of Industry revolution 4.0, has called in for the increased use of different types of technologies in the modern day world. One of the first explosion happened with the increase of usage of the internet, however it is still being supported by the increased usage of mobile applications and mobile technologies in the recent times. Even though, Technology could not replace human beings altogether, but it could act as the enabler to make the human beings more capable of using the technologies for their own usages. One of the niche areas, where technology have started showing signs of improvement is in the area of language acquisition and new-language learning. One hand language relates to society, history, creativity, chronicles, culture etc. and on one hand language acts as the building block for the employability. While, most of the languages in this world are complex, but the basic tenets of communication and interaction remain the same. Technologies have been able to leverage this advantage and thereby has created unique methods of learning & new language acquisition.
While modern teaching methods are focused towards raising more interests among the incumbent learners, the incorporation of the different methods also prove to be attractive and the experience being received by the learners are truly enriching. Some of the modern day methods are:
• Use of Terminals or Computers or Laptops
• Use of projectors or screens for presentations
• Interactive boards usage
• Use of microphone for the larger classrooms
• Use of the various blogs or websites or software
• Gamification methods for attracting more & more learners.
However, all these have not been possible without the help of the different types of technological advancements and the emerging technologies which add a new dimension to the way of study along with helping the students to learn more interactively and at a more practical level than before. The study lessons are also being made available at the disposable of the learners at all time and the use of the props or games or interactive sessions are also aiding to the cause of helping the students to have a more fulfilling experience.
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Emerging Technologies aiding to Foreign Language Learning: Technologies have always played an important role, when it comes to learning new languages, whether it is English itself of Non-English languages or any other languages. The use of technology is not only useful for the teachers in helping them to enable the students adapt the classroom environment, but it also helps in increasing the language learning process by facilitating different processes and options(McFadden, 2019). The advent of globalization, seems to speed up the process of technology adoption and thus more & more people are using technologies to learn new things and new languages because of the ease of learning and the ease of access. The days
While technologies have evolved and have become more & more focused towards providing ease to the end users, mainly two types of broad categories of technology have come into existence which seems to revolutionize the process of learning.
Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL): This could be defined as the gamut of processes & the activities which takes into consideration the help of the computer terminals like desktops or laptops in order to help the people in the process of learning new language. This terminology has become very famous in the recent times, but the history goes back by few decades. The three phases of development are:
• Structural/Behaviorist CALL which came into vogue in the 70s was mainly focused towards providing a stimulus to the end user in the form of a prompt and as per the response from the end user, the answers or the end results used to be shown. However, the devices were mainly "listen & repeat" types.
• Communicative CALL became famous in 1980s and 1990s and it takes into consideration the Audiolingual and Grammar-translation methods. This method was slight improvement over the previous one, which try to engage students through tasks which could be completed using only that foreign language only. Language learning became more vivid and exciting with the advancements in the audio & the video qualities(Stevie, 2019).
• Integrative CALL- These types of technologies came into vogue from 2000s, when there was an advancement in the media world along with the advent of internet. As the name suggests, the Integrative CALL was more about integrating the knowledge learnings in the 1st phase followed by communication through interactive media and internet in the 2nd phase.
One of the examples is "FluentU", which brings a combination of knowledge and real life vides for students to learn a new language (Fluentu.com, 2019).
However, CALL technologies have become more & more advanced in the recent times and they have also started adopting newer & emergent technologies to help people and learners. Many websites have also come up with customized or individualized ways of learning not only through the websites, desktops or laptops but also through mobile applications. One of the great learning website in this context is "Busuu", which portrays itself as one of the simplest platforms of helping an individual to learn at their own pace and to learn a new language by just spending 10 minutes per day (Busuu.com, 2019). Another website which has made names in recent time is "Babbel", which tries to connect with the learners through real life conversation type's lessons(Babbel.com, 2019). So, CALL has led to the concepts of interactive language learning along with personalized lessons. CALL can be used for:
Mobile Assisted Language Learning technology (MALL): Mobile assisted technologies have become the order of the day which are better known as MALL and has started playing a major role in influencing the language learning. It is basically a subset of the combination of CALL and m-learning(Miangah & Nezarat, 2012). However, mobile applications have evolved and have become more attractive & exciting, which has led to the exponential use of these technologies by the new language learners of the day.
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Mobile Applications: Mobile applications do play an important role in today's life, as most of the world along with connectivity, starting from food to transport to weather report to news, all are being covered in the applications of the mobile. This has actually provided the opportunities for the organizations to leverage the huge demand base and to come up with some great Applications. Some of them are as follows(Fisher, 2019):
• Duolingo - one of the easiest ways to learn new languages through Mobile App, without registration also(Munday, 2016). It also helps in provide the due classroom experience in some of the courses, which also adds value and makes it one of the most popular websites or mobile app for learning new languages. It also provides opportunity for an individual to learn two languages simultaneously(Duolingo.com, 2019).
• Memrise - It might not be as smooth as Duolingo, but it is truly helpful in terms of offline courses. It has been supported by many as one of the best apps for the enhancement of the vocabulary(Memrise.com, 2019).
• Busuu- Offers customized solutions through social networking site.
• AccellaStudy Essential Apps- Several learning modes make this app useful.
• 24/7 Tutor Apps - All time availability with very less languages.
• Rosetta Stone- This is one of the most professional modes of using Application for learning new language.
• Google Translate - Although it is very open, but learning through only translation is difficult.
More New Technologies: The advent of newer ways of working and newer technologies have also added to the cause of making new language learning easier and attractive. Some of the new technologies which are slowly making their ways are being enumerated below.
Internet of Things Supporting CALL & MALL: The new phase of learning has started focusing on the concept of ubiquitous learning, which is one step ahead of e-learning. While blended learning concepts are still trying to make progress in the mainstream world, e-learning has received a wide acceptance, but with this new concept, the learning environment is predicted to change rapidly(Cohen, 2019). Applications have been studied with respect to task based learning in the process of learning new language and researches have shown that use of IoT devices could help improve the learning language experience to a great extent. For example, smart phones could be used for studying & viewing, while Bluetooth speakers could be used for listening and developing ear and smart objects could be used to reflect the learning(Liu & Hwang, 2010). Hence, role of IoT is slowly becoming more & more obvious in the process of new language learning.
Social Networking Site for Language Learning: The internet has resulted in the opening of different types of social networking sites, which act as the best collaboration platforms for the new language learners who wants to explore quick & easier options for learning new languages. In this context, the Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter act as the hubs for such group formation where likeminded people join together to learn new languages through different multimedia options. One of the classic example in this case is that of the social networking site Busuu, which provides community accesses along with options to collaborate with many people. However, the website lacks in terms of alignment of the content & the purpose with that of the pedagogical and theoretical tenets(Valencia, 2015).
AI (Artificial Intelligence) for new language learning: AI is already been used widely by many of the language learning websites in order to cater to the service of the learners(Lotze, 2018). For example, Duolingo, one of the largest learning platforms for the foreign languages, it has slowly picked up pace in terms of embracing the concepts of machine learning & AI for developing more customized or personalized conditions for learning new languages for the learners. It has helped create the CAT or the Computer Adaptive tests for the different levels of learners, where AI has played an important role for customizing the learnings & the courses (Gagliordi, 2018).
Advantages of Using Technologies for learning: In the first place, digitization has actually helped in providing convenience. Physical books have given way to digital dashboards, notes and lectures. Secondly, the use of multimedia has also helped in providing the required boost. Thirdly, the presence of the Auto-correction features has made the use of learning new languages more exciting for both the foreign as well as the native speakers. Fourth, the classroom experience could be replicated both in the home context and in the desktops/ laptops/ mobile. Fifth, the options of customization or personalization has given the due boost to the individual learners to learn new languages at their own pace. Sixth, gamifications have made it more obvious and easy for even the children to learn new languages. Lastly, the rise of the intelligent language learning teachers have given the due support.
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Improvement measures from gaps
A. Lack of Advanced Options - The case study of Duolingo as an App has been studied by researcher Ahmed (2016), where he found that while Duolingo is a great app when it comes to developing the basics of the two languages being learnt by an individual at the same time, it lacks the functionality of advanced level setup(Ahmed, 2016). Thus the mobile applications or the websites, needs to have proper certification courses, which are globally acknowledged, so that the learner could build upon the repute after learning the new languages.
B. Lack of Experience & Design - While from the functional side, there has been a great enhancement & improvement, but when it comes to the user-experience and design there needs to be a huge revamp with respect to the different technological websites and applications. The lack of relationship between the psychology & the need for the individuals to learn more and more languages have not been the core focus area for most of the incumbent websites, which has resulted in moderate attrition rates in language learning.
C. Absence of Blended Learning - While connectivity is not a major problem in most of the cases, the major problem still remains the ease of access through the mobile applications, as many of the applications have still not matured except a few. Hence, blended learning of books, websites and app has not been achieved fully by the latest technologies. This is also evident from one of the classic study done on the students using the Memrise app(Kent & Sherman, 2013).
Way forward for solving the problem of technology usage in language learning: One of the major drawbacks that could be captured from the analysis of the impact of the different technologies over the newer ways of learning new language is that, there do exist some drawbacks when it comes to linking the end user with that of the services & the offerings. While the use of AI and Machine learning have tried to bridge the gap, but still the new learners find it difficult to capture the new concepts or to reinforce the older concepts. In this context, the use of newer methods or changing the ways of understanding the requirements is very important, which might help the technology companies to understand the complexity between the different tenets of learning a new language.
UX Method for solving problems
UX research method is one such method which would help understand the basic tenets as well as understanding the complexities in the language learning, as it focuses more on the user rather than focusing on serving the whole mass(Walter, 2017). Design thinking approaches are mainly being considered in this method, which helps in greater alignment with that of the user needs & demand. This results in more user focused solutions and services, which are some of the greatest disadvantages of learning new language through the extensive use of emerging & new technologies.
User Experience Design
UX experience design could be defined as process by which teams resort to create products & services which are more inclined towards providing relevant & meaningful experiences to the users, rather than providing solutions which seems to be exhaustive. UX Experience design consists of the whole process of gathering inputs from the users followed by assimilating the data & the inputs to come out with meaningful meta-options, which in turn helps in providing the aspects related to branding, designing, functioning & using of the new solutions (Interaction-design.org, 2019). Products & services created by these concepts generally take quite some time to be developed, because of the considerations of varied options, but when created could generate great value.
Advantages of UX research method: The user research methods have proved to be fruitful in the long run, while some of its other advantages include:
• It helps in developing dynamic solutions which are adaptable for the needs of the users. So AI & machine learning could be the next targeted technologies for developing UX focused designs.
• It helps in automatic scaling & expansion of the solution, without doing extensive R&D for all the time(Novoseletseva, 2016).
• Ultimately helps in reducing the costs and the expenses in the long run as it saves the efforts of redesigning.
• Presence of a feedback loop makes it even more dynamic approach for developing user focused solutions.
• Helps in shortening the learning curve of the users, when it comes to the applications & usability part of it.
• Designs are based on SMART objectives, which are easily measurable for monitoring any deviations.
Summary of the Literature Review: The literature review starts with explaining the process which would followed to capture as much relevant data points as possible. The process starts with scanning the literature & different reports, websites, blogs and journals with the help of various key words & phrases which would bring out the relevant information around the research objectives. While English is one of the most important languages, but globalization has resulted in individuals or groups to strive for learning something new so that they remain relevant & competitive in a dynamic world. Thus learning only English is not enough in this competitive world. The next section talks about the traditional methods of learning foreign languages along with explaining the pre-requisites and how the pre-requisites are chocking the use of the traditional ways. Hence, comes the need for adopting newer technologies for giving boost to the foreign language learning concept. At first the various phases of CALL is being explained in order to emphasize on the evolutionary process of technology assisted language learning. Finally, MALL has been explained in great details with references of different websites and the uniqueness they provide to the end users in terms of learning new languages. This is followed by the explanation of even more new technologies which are opening the opportunities for newer ways of learning. The disadvantages of the use of the newer technologies have been identified in the form of lack of user experience and blended learning along with presence of advanced options. Thus, last section focuses on the User experience method which would be used in this research and could act as one of the most important source of gathering information & understanding gaps related to the hindrances in the use of new technologies for the language learning.
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