streamlining a decades old learning method

berlitz go — interface & Illustration

berlitz go
Berlitz Go is a explorative and polylingual discussion on how we can transform a half a century old publication into a modern day experience.
Berlitz Go updates the Berlitz Self-Teacher series for modern day learners. The original series of books were published during the 1950’s and have remained untouched to this day. The book is a starting point for anyone seeking a language learning experience close to that of learning their mother-tongue.
the accents & punctuations
Context
Independent Group Project
Spring 2020 — 3 Weeks
Team
Rebeca Estrada — Human Centered Design Consult
Julia Kim — Development & Engineering
Roles
Wireframing & Prototyping
Illustration & Interface Design
You learned to speak English the natural way, so you are capable of learning any language the Berlitz way.
MAXIMILIAN BERLITZ
their history
The first Berlitz Self-Teachers were printed in the 1950’s in several romance languages. Since then Berlitz has gone on to become a world-renowned language learning school, underground several massive identity shifts and technological advances. Yet, the workhorse self-teachers have not been touched since their first publications.
The set of books aims to teach language the way we learned our mother-tongues, through progressive exposure, not through verb conjugations and vocabulary lists. This project brings the content and presentation of the decade-old books into the modern era where mobile applications are experiencing substantial growth and publication are seeing their renaissance.
our history
At the beginning of the year, I had took my millienth stab at learning languages through an app, and for the millienth time I failed to stay motivated and engaged. So I bought a book to follow and the results were polar opposite.
I took this discussion to my peers: why has learning on paper been more effective than on screen and is there a way to have a paper experience on a screen
Unanimously, it was the lack of natural exploration and evolution of language. Where books are self- (or teacher) paced and provided extra clues along the way, apps overlook this and prioritize “bite-sized” lessons and overbearing push notifications. A lack of self, and too much systemification.
How might we take a 50 year old publication and modernize its medium for today’s students?
PROBLEM SPACE
"first lesson"
The goal of the app is to teach users a new language providing them with resources and progress reports as well go. This is our initial task flow and app architecture.
"lesson two"
After defining what our app needs to do we went in and design a screen for each of those tasks and then expanded some tasks as fit. We constantly tweaked these initial frames tryning to find a balance between recalling the books cluttered vintage stature and modern infortmation architecture.
"lesson three"
We added a splash of color and made it pretty! After working out the functionality details we went in and added the aesthetic details. We carefully followed the original Berlitz Corporation branding and then added addition colors and type treatment to further hierarchy and depth. The outcome resulted in something timely and timeless.
From 1950 (original publication)
to 2020 (this concept)
THE LARGER TIMELINE
keepin' it analogue
As a nod to the original source text the main structure of the app relies heavily on similarly size cards that are scrolled through horizontally, like pages in a book.
24/7 support
The key to successful language learning is to have strong set of resources and support. By having the resources tab always available (in main menu, lesson menu, and during lessons) support is literally at your fingertips
o.g. illustrations
Each illustration is inspired by drawings from the original source text. They were vectorized from their print verison, modernized in proportion, colorized to match the brand and given a bold outline to create further visual cohesion.
double hierarchy
The application requires double the typographical hierarchy due to everything being presented in the target language and in the presumed native language, english. The goal of this is too increase language submersion which in the Berlitz curriculum is key to fully learning a language.
danke schön
Thanks to my team for being relentless in a pandemic that could've put this project on hold, but you are still out there pushing. 감사합니다 Julia for reaching out for anything to practice coding, and informing best practices for giving designs to engineers. Muchas gracias Rebeca for reviewing each iteration and providing feedback on how users would actually interact with the course and application. And of course merci beaucoup to the book to the left for starting a new journey of language learning!

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