After a break in the summer holidays my group met up online to discuss our thoughts on the project. Both Kate and Tatiana shared my concerns about the project’s breadth, so we made a research question:
“Design a way to most effectively apply context to vocabulary learning in foreign language learning”.
This helped us clarify whether or not we were focusing on teaching a language — clarifying that it is not our aim to do so. We wanted to focus on creating an additional visual component to the learning process.
Learning Systems Testing
We decided to test three different language learning systems that were highlighted by our questionnaire results: an App, Podcast and Textbook. We were interested to compare these three methods because of the different forms of context used in each: App uses text, pictures and audio, the Textbook uses text and visual, and the Podcast only audio.
We managed to gather seven participants who would use one of these methods to study French over the course of one week. They were asked to fill in a multiple choice diary every day even if they didn’t study that day, which covered these topics. This was the best way we could think of to get participants to record their thoughts, which also required the least-amount of effort.
Synthesis: "Don't synthesize anything I wouldn't synthesize!
After the week had ended, we each arranged a call with the participants to talk through how they felt throughout the week. We had discussed arranging a group workshop following the week with all the participants, to get them to do some card sorting together. However we were advised in a tutorial that we needed to move past the exploratory phase of our project, so we should instead focus on synthesising what we had already.
We each made a Behaviour map to represent the information put in the diaries.
Learn French by Podcast
15-Minute French Textbook
All the participants noted that there was a lack of meaningful imagery. The Duolingo group mentioned that they were useful to illustrate the meaning of nouns, but were generally hard to remember because of a similarity in style. The textbook participants noted that they would have preferred watching a TV show as it presents a more cultural environment, and is more conversational. Finally, the podcast group noted the lack of visuals made them struggle to associate what they were hearing with its meaning.
All the participants felt that there was a definite lack in personalisation, which was noteworthy. They found it cumbersome to look back through past material, and wished there would be a function that would do this automatically as it often ruined their flow.
Motivation was difficult to measure. As is clear from the behavioural mapping, this varied greatly, especially in the podcast and app. The podcast listeners noted that they felt a little more motivated to study because their learning was passive — they could put it on in the background. Two of the participants from the textbook and app group said that they had no prior interest in learning French so this lowered their motivation.
In hindsight our test could have been developed further by asking more specific questions relating to each medium to find more meaningful differences between them. If I could go back I would also let the participants choose any language they wanted to learn, rather than make them focus on French. We chose French because we thought this would be a good way to test motivation, letting us see participants who wanted to learn the language in comparison to those that didn’t. However, I think it would be more important to test motivation in relation to something they initially wanted to do, and find out where/why it went wrong.