Client’s Mission and Objectives
The Client, who is also the author of the idea and the investor, asked us to implement an online simulator for English speaking practice.
Where does the idea come from? Now we'll tell you.
The client noticed that some team members could not speak professional English and had difficulties learning it. He recalled his university studies in England, in particular, a debate of two speakers emotionally discussing the agenda of the meeting. That's how the idea came up. It later grew into a mission which is to provide an opportunity to communicate in English on any topics of interest at your convenience.
When we talk about what is really interests us, the words emerge from the odd corners of memory themselves. We stop focusing on grammar constructions, we focus on the thought that we want to convey. This takes our language skills from passive stock to active use. A foreign language becomes a communication tool, not heavy baggage.
The name SayAnyway was plain to see. Using the available keywords of the .com domain, we found the perfect combination of “say” and “anyway”. If translated into Russian, you get the phrase "say in any case", which conveys the essence of the whole idea.
Having done the analytical work, we moved on to the implementation of a web service for developing informal communication skills. We were faced with the task of combining several target audiences in one place. It was necessary to develop such an online simulator that would bring together novice speakers
and professional moderator teachers.
Beginner Speakers, Students, etc.
Before starting the development work, we asked ourselves, “What do B1 and higher-level English learners have in common?” Our team turned to the relevant experience, and, as a result, we came to the following hypothesis: the classical study of English as a foreign language at school is generally ineffective due to the lack of the proper discipline and no sufficient motivation. Especially if you want to improve your spoken English skills.
Let's imagine a very common situation. An experienced student gives up studying with one particular tutor, having found out thousands of reasons for it. After a while, they grit their teeth and find another one. And here they are again going through all their favorite Present Simple and Present Continuous tenses all over again. Exaggerated, but so true to life!
The Client and our team needed to find a completely different approach — to get the learners interested and retain those who are thirsty for knowledge. So we came to the format of discussions on predetermined topics. The moderator facilitates the meeting and shares recommendations afterwards. Students get the tips on their screens, "rocking" the vocabulary. There are other participants around, sharing the same interests. Do you like the theme of humor? Here you are. Absurdity, cats or a relationship issue? You can find many things like this in SayAnyway.
Simulation of Real-Life Situations
The conversation environment is simulated depending on the selected topic. For example, for a group of sales managers, the moderator models the negotiation process between a client and a specialist. The discussion, objections handling, product presentation — everything is like in reality, but in English.
Hints and Moderator Help
To feel more confident, the participants are motivated by relevant prompts on the screen, which are pre-compiled by the moderator. Also, if necessary, the tutor can take part in the process and support the speaker.
Extensive List of Discussion Topics
In the online simulator, students can choose any topic they like. Those who often travel might choose such topics as recreation, vacation, pastimes and suchlike. If someone wants to discuss topical issues, such as unmanned vehicles or urban greening, they can initiate a meeting for tomorrow, and make an arrangement with a teacher. SayAnyway offers more than 20 topical areas and, in addition, the opportunity to suggest your own.
At the end of the lesson, each speaker receives a file with the moderator's individual recommendations by email. They contain everything that a student needs to pay attention to: tips on the use of grammatical and lexical constructions, as well as pronunciation guidelines.
A SayAnyway speaker can sign up for a private lesson. This opportunity is in demand, for example, when a student still does not have sufficient skills for group classes or has not overcome the language barrier yet.
Meeting Cancellation and Rescheduling
A student can send a request to reschedule a meeting in their personal account. The moderator and other meeting participants can agree on the proposal through voting for or against. The meeting is rescheduled only if all parties agree.
Professional Teachers, Moderators, etc.
The other side of the SayAnyway online simulator is professional teachers who conduct discussions, comment on the statements of speakers, and give individual recommendations. They are also the people we had to offer something unique to. We decided to focus on the following features.
Moderators independently determine the price for meeting participation and receive payment from speakers directly. Also, without stint, they agree on a convenient date and time for meetings only with speakers, form groups, and develop lesson scenarios.
The web service contains an extensive database with up-to-date content that is designed for meetings. Teachers can use prepared scenarios or create their own likewise.
Profile is the moderator's business card
Nothing extra. Moderators leave the most necessary information in their profile: a photo, full name, age, class prices, popular topics of meetings. The teacher's rating is also displayed in the same section.
We managed to implement an intuitive user interface. In the personal account, moderators can schedule group or individual meetings, mark available times, receive and send schedule change notifications, track the group recruitment process, use the topic directory, or create their own.
Web Service and Personal Account Design
The phase of UX/UI design making started with analytical work. Indirect competitors were studied, the necessary functionality was determined and wireframes were prepared. Based on the references, graphic brief, client feedback, and technical specifications, a prototype was formed. After agreeing on the final design with the customer, we prepared layouts and suitable photo content for filling SayAnyway.
The most important thing here is the work on the video conference design. Conducting video lessons in SayAnyway is one of the most important competitive advantages. The design had to be connected with the layout, and both of them with interactive prompts. Consequently, we succeeded in implementing both the video conference page and the public part of the online platform.
Simplicity and Understandability
The service target audience includes people of different ages and nationalities. Therefore, we built the entire design layout on simple and understandable blocks without large amounts of text, complex structures and nesting. We deliberately avoided overloaded visuals, illustrations and icons. The main graphic component of SayAnyway contains the most lively and relaxed photos of people interacting with the service.
We have developed an online simulator for developing English conversation skills. It helps remove obstacles i.e. overcome language barriers that prevent you from starting to speak English fluently.