A conceptual idea to create your own personalized foreign language pocket dictionary that helps increase situational language skills.


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How can we support foreign language learners who are residing and employed in a new country to assimilate into the local language and culture more effectively?


What? A foreign language learning app geared towards expats and immigrants that focuses on new vocabulary acquisition for situational usage

Why? Because trying to make a doctor’s appointment, or pay a bill, or ask for directions in a new language is frustrating and pressing



The result of competitive research concluded that there are two main types of vocabulary apps —flashcard apps or language learning apps. There are few language learning apps that allow users to choose and add vocabulary they wanted or needed to learn.

User Interviews

In interviews with foreign language learners, I discovered that language learning apps are fun, but when you need certain vocabulary for specific situations, there is a lack of customization and focus on scenarios. In one interview, the potential users told me about the perils of having to go to the hospital and explain your situation in a second language.

To give the potential user a personality, I created a proto persona:

Refining the Problem Statement

These stories helped define the goals of Linglobal to act as a personalized international pocket dictionary and language learning app for expats and immigrants looking to learn and practice situational language acquisition.

We believe that by creating a language app that focuses on learning situational words, encourages authentic integration via lessons and speaking, and is highly customizable, users will have fun engaging with the app, and will improve overall comprehension and communication skills in real-life measurable ways.

Synthesizing Research


She needs…

  • to be able to upload new situational words and categorize them for easy retrieval
  • to practice situational words when she’s at home for upcoming events, such as going to a doctor or having a job interview
  • to be held accountable for practicing new words and lessons
  • to be able to learn in a multi-disciplinary way to keep it fun and engaging, but also so her learnings stick

I started to develop Linglobal to directly address these goals and pain points by defining some of the functionality of Linglobal: Linglobal needs to…

  1. Allow users to create personalized language lists to assist with specific situations
  2. Upload words users have encountered in their day to day to create a unique learning experience that addresses personal needs
  3. Create language learning reminders to increase accountability, and
  4. Include both lessons and auditory/spoken practice to help with verbal communication.

Defining Structure & Features

develop & organize

In order to better understand the intangible knowledge that I’d gathered, I created user flows to understand how to help Nina address her pain points and goals:

How could we encourage Nina to review new vocabulary and stay accountable for following up?

How can Nina add new words to Linglobal and then categorize them in easily retrievable word lists?

After exploring user flows, I decided to hone in on the following features during the first prototyping phase:

  • Quick access to need-based words
  • Ability to add new words such as dialect or industry jargon
  • Notifications
  • Lessons 

Wireframing & Prototyping

I sketched lo-fi wireframes that included Onboarding, global navigation, notifications, language selection and features for three important tasks: uploading new vocabulary, categorizing words into flashcard decks, and creating methods for practicing vocabulary. 


To see if my prototype successful, I tested five different tasks to see how easily the user could navigate Linglobal. Feel free to check out the Marvel prototype here.

Test Results:

Positives: The tests revealed that onboarding, log in and adjusting notifications and language were easy for most users to complete.

Negatives: Information Architecture for learning and adding vocabulary was confusing.

The results of the usability tests clearly showed that I needed to create two distinct experiences:

  1. Easy to access vocabulary that’s straight forward to practice, review and study.
  2. Leisurely language lessons and quizzes with rewards to add motivation.


In a second round of prototypes, you can see I directly addressed these design pain points to isolate the two different learning styles to make it fast and easy for users to be able to both learn their new language via play. 

High Fidelity Design

Visual Design Development

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Next Steps:

  • Develop the Speak feature which focuses on assisting users with pronunciation.
  • Refine the app Information Architecture.
  • Design the look and feel of the app