01 | FMP: Long ago…

“FMP”, written in the clouds — drawn by me

This marks the beginning of a new project, and the final one at UAL (🥲).

Finding a topic

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I would want to do for my final major project. After a lot of ideas, I finally decided on contextualising language learning as a topic because it hits close to home. I have studied many languages using two main methods: learning in class and learning by myself online. I found I really felt the absence of any correlating pictures or videos to help explain what I was learning, as I was mainly taught through reading and writing. And although my textbooks usually had some pictures, these were mostly used to explain grammar.

This made me wonder how visual imagery could help learn things other than grammar — specifically, vocabulary. During my entire language learning journey vocabulary has always been the most boring and tedious part to learn: In textbooks vocabulary was listed at the bottom of the page next to an english translation, which my teachers would ask us to take home and memorise. My classmates and I would transfer the words onto a word-learning app, doing repetitive drills and slowly memorising the words alongside their english translations.

This target language → english translation learning method made it hard for me to place words in my mind, and connect them with their use. Translating words into my native language wasn’t intuitive, my mind would rather think of the concept/ thing attached to the foreign language word instead of the english translation e.g. even though I might know what is being said, I don’t naturally translate it instantly in my head. Some things can’t even be easily translated directly, highlighting the need for a supportive contextual aspect

A focus on translation in vocabulary learning really flattened the experience, standardising the way learning languages function. This is where I think learning with other forms of context would be really beneficial, adding a necessary sensory dimension to the experience.


As we worked so well together in the Macro UX project with Applied Works, Tatiana, Kate and I were keen on teaming up again. We all had similar experiences learning languages, and similar thoughts on how language learning methods could be improved. We agreed that context in general has been missing, and wanted to explore ways this could be improved. As well as this, Kate and Tatiana are interested in exploring other aspects of language learning, such as motivation, which will be a great way of dividing work to end up with a well-rounded outcome.

We all think there has got to be a more interesting and effective way to learn words. We don’t yet know how to improve the process yet, so this is something we’re keen to look into in the final major project. However, we need to be careful going forward that we don’t draw too much from personal experience, steering away from any biases we may have in our outcome.

>>> For my next post on the project, click .



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Maria S

Personal blog for MA User Experience Design at University of Arts London