Study Proposal Zhou Xia

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The domain I am working on is breaking down barriers. The specific problem I am exploring is to break the communication barriers caused by language and cultural differences. Currently, because of globalization, there is a growing trend in communication with foreign languages. People have more opportunities to exposure to a multi-language environment. In this case, facing communication barriers because of a common phenomenon in daily life.

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Linguistic globalization in intensified communication and travel has a closer relationship with other sectors such as business and education (Sawir, 2005). However, it is a challenge when people are working and living while they have to communicate with a foreign language or in other countries. As for the foreign employees, it is difficult for them to hurt a job and adopt an unfamiliar language environment. According to Nikkei Asian Review, 52% of participants cited language as the most significant hurdle to working in Japan as a foreign national (2018). Such language barriers cause low work efficiency.

Madera, Juan M, et al. claimed that employees with different cultures are lack understanding caused by communication barriers, thereby leading to ineffective management in food service establishments (2013). The similar scenario not only happens in the workplace but also it would affect the immigrants’ and international students’ daily life. When they walk into a new environment, they often find some new aspects such as a different culture and language which will influence their ability to understand their surroundings.

Therefore, I believe that the lack of language proficiency will exacerbate communication barriers.


According to research, language plays a significant role in communication barriers, especially face-to-face communication. The lack of understanding other languages not only leads to inconvenience for people but also might influence their study and career.

Therefore, I plan to design a digital translator in order to help users understand foreign languages. I am trying to achieve that people can communicate with others without the language barrier via using the translator. In other words, I want to solve communication issues when people have conversations by using different languages.


I decided to design a project which helps users to break the communication barriers caused by language and cultural differences. Specifically, the domain problem I am exploring is to help immigrants and refugees to study the second language when they are taking related educational services.

Study Proposal Zhou Xia According to the social mobile course, I learned that ‘all uses of software that supported interacting groups, even if the interaction was offline,’ which is a social software term claimed by Clay Shirky 2002. (Shirky, n.d.) For the project, I aim to help users understand foreign languages and achieve the goal that people can communicate with others without a language barrier in an interactive way, which can be supported and developed by social, mobile theory.

There are five main purposes of the prototype:

  1. To test target users’ responses to my idea and the concept of my prototype.
  2. To test whether my solution is able to break commutation and language barrier in life and education setting.
  3. To find out the target users prefer the final product in which style, whether I should design it as a classic watch or a smartwatch.
  4. To test the three main functions mentioned above and to gather feedback to modify and improve my prototype for the next testing.
  5. To gather more useful suggestions from the target audience to improve my original concept.


To be able to achieve the project aim, I am going to follow a design process as shown in figure 1.0 to be able to produce a proof-of-concept prototype.

I will conduct interviews to gather qualitative data in the early process of design. I will use face-to-face interviews and get more in-depth, valuable information during the research, including users’ opinions and ideas on the immigrant communication barrier issues. I will mainly focus on immigrants as the targeted user.

Besides, I would like to get feedback from people with different age groups, because I believe people from different age groups might come up with different expectations on technology. Through my surveys, I am going to find out the user’s requirements, helpful existing technologies, and their advantages /disadvantages.

Reference List

Language is the main barrier to foreigners wanting to work in Japan. (2018). Nikkei Asian Review, 15 August 2018.

Madera, J., Dawson, M., Neal, J., & Busch, K. (2013). Breaking A Communication

Barrier: The Effect of Visual Aids in Food Preparation on Job Attitudes and Performance.
Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 37(2), 262-280.

Sawir, Erlenawati. (2005). Language Difficulties of International Students in Australia:
The Effects of Prior Learning Experience. International Education Journal, 6(5), 567-580.

Shirky, C. (n.d.). The group as User:
Flaming and the Design of Social Software.
Best Software Writing I, pp.211-221.

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Study Proposal Zhou Xia. (2021, Oct 10). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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