The topic of inclusion affects many areas and encounters many barriers. One of them is the barrier of language. But what does inclusion mean in this context and who is affected by it?
Using qualitative interviews, my project team and I explored what "language barrier" means to young international students and how it affects the lives of the interviewees. It was found that many exchange students do not feel confident during everyday tasks due to poor experiences interacting with interlocutors speaking other languages.
But why is it important to overcome this barrier? Language is part of a culture and without learned or technological means, language barriers cannot be overcome so easily and quickly that they no longer cause problems in everyday situations. It is much better to focus on overcoming cultural barriers in order to integrate the target group in the best possible way.
But how could international students be offered a more comfortable language environment so that they are more motivated to communicate and there is less fear of failure with the knowledge they have acquired so far? How do you make this target group feel less uncomfortable in this foreign environment?
I was able to explore this question in an interdisciplinary team together with students from the university's business department and, in my role as a design expert for information design, I was able to convey methods and principles of design, thus consulting on the feasibility of our conceived business model. While the business students' task was to plan a functioning business model and calculate its development and financing, I was able to concentrate fully on the creative part of problem solving.
On the one hand, this resulted in a delightful starter kit for exchange students, which is provided by the university and helps the incoming student to better prepare for the "culture shock" and the foreign environment.
White Label Culture Kit:
The Culture Cards can incorporate features of all cultures of this world, related to the content as well as the design. Whether it's Switzerland, Japan or South Africa - the Culture Cards can depict the colors of all flags! Get a first insight into the German culture. What should you look for to have a better chance of fitting in with the Germans? As someone who comes from a different culture, what might you misunderstand?
Personalized Culture Cards:
Fill out your own Culture Card! Decorate the front in the colors of your country's flag and use one of the included stickers to visually support your Culture Card. Use it with someone from another culture as an icebreaker and share your differences and similarities. Maybe a foreign perception or two can be explained!
On the other hand, I was able to continue working on my Long Shot concept, which was considered too unfeasible by the business side. The interim result was a self-tested prototype of Smart Language Learning Glasses, aimed not only at students who want an anonymous learning environment, but also at general language learners who want to go a step further and fully integrate both idioms and figurative speech into their vocabulary.
The unintended side effect of the Smart Glasses turned out to be quite beneficial, because they look at the issue of "inclusion" from a different perspective - that of accessibility. After all, a language barrier affects not only other cultures, but also people with visual or hearing impairments.
While I really liked the idea of the Culture Kit because it serves as an icebreaker and is easily scalable from a small base, I can't ignore the potential of the Smart Glasses - even more so given recent developments in the broader marketplace regarding artificial intelligence and text- or voice-based communication through bots. It gave me some new ideas on how to potentially realize the Smart Conversation Mode.
Functional App Highlights:
Smart Dictionary Mode - Immersive language learning with AR Glasses
Smart Translation Mode - Real time support for listening and speaking comprehension
Doe in Boots Design
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