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Voice Assistant for Practicing New Languages
Voice UX
Conversational Design
Speed Dating
Ruchi Ookalkar
Pallavi Benawri
Sonali Tandon
1st in Student Design Competition
UXPA 2018
Chattie is a voice-based companion for practicing conversations in new languages. Having real-world conversation is commonly recognized as very helpful and useful way in language learning. We designed voice interface on a smart speaker to be used in practicing conversation in a new language. It is like an always-available person to talk to, and it allows users to utilize small pieces of time to learn.


🎉We Won in UXPA 2018


Research, Design, Testsssss

User Research

Why Smart Speaker?

In the initial user research phrase, we explored possibilities of using smart speaker to help language learning.
We created affinity wall out of interview notes.
Click to see the document
Voice assistant is a suitable tool for language learner’s needs:
“I don’t feel it is easy to ask people to just practice speaking, because everyone has their own busy work to deal with”
Based on the analysis, we decided to target:

Competitive Analysis

Unfulfilled Needs in Practicing Conversations

Aiming to address the pains in persona, we did competitive analysis on:
Language learning tools, combined with comments we gathered from survey data
Learning strategies that our target user created themselves when they learn or practice speaking.
“I learn the language to use it, to talk with people”
Speaking feature is generally neglected in most language learning softwares. The existing ones focus on pronunciations, asking users to follow the example then repeat the sentence. No dialogue was involved in speaking practice.
“I remember them after I actually used them”
“Sometimes I wrote lines from movies, because I like them, and I think I may use them in a conversation some day”
To help user improve speaking, it is important to not only let them practice, but also provide resources for them to enrich their expressions in scenarios.


A Peek at Chattie

“I am most motivated to learn phrases that are often used in real life, the useful language”
We selected topics that are frequently used in popular language learning materials, incorporated related interesting phrases into conversation design.
In user test, we found users like relevant answers to themselves, because they can borrow sentences for their own use. Accordingly, we increase the variety of sample answers under each topic.
To come up with captivating conversation, we had many rounds of speed tests with people. We iterate our design to encourage users speak more, and continue the conversation in a natural flow.


Pains in Language Learning

We designed different levels of clues based on user’s proficiency
We observed language learners often times couldn’t repeat a new word they hear, thus failing to remember or inquiry more information of the word.
"Say it again"
Therefore, in the conversation, we enable Chattie to repeat questions in response to “say it again”, and offer explanation of new vocabulary when users stumbles.
According to affinity analysis we made, recollection is a common pain in language learning.
We designed a notebook for users to collect words or voice clips. Chattie also suggests to add into a wordlist whenever there is a question.


In The World of Voice UX

We followed voice UX design guidelines to avoid common usability issues. Cathy Pearl’s book and AnswerLab’s VUI research helped us the most. We adopted their advice in language learning features.
Learnt VUI user’s difficulty in discovering features. we give a glimpse of the features in the beginning, and guide users for following steps when the feature is needed.
When asked about Chattie’s personality, our users all hoped it to be friendly. In multiple rounds of test, we found adding ad-libs gives Chattie a welcoming personality.