“Speak to Succeed” is a scenario-based learning experience that helps non-native English speakers overcome their fears of speaking English at work. 

The Challenge

They’ve studied English for years. They know it’s not a matter of proficiency. Still, they don’t understand what’s holding them back. How can non-native professionals overcome their fears of speaking English at work and thrive professionally? 


If non-native professionals can’t manage their speaking anxiety, their performance will decrease, affecting business goals. They need to acquire a growth mindset and focus on their expertise. 

The Solution

A scenario-based learning experience is an engaging way to show non-native English speakers how their decisions have a real impact. It helps them recognize that their performance in the language is a matter of having the right mindset rather than being flawless.

The Process

Responsibilities: Research, instructional design, scripting, interaction, and visual design, creative direction, eLearning development

Target Audience: Non-native English speaking professionals working in an international company 

Tools: Articulate Storyline 360, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Audacity

Language: English
Year: 2021

I designed and developed this interactive story by working closely with an English coach and an English language researcher. I also collected feedback from non-native English speakers. I applied an action mapping approach, storytelling principles, scenario-based learning, and game design.


I researched the topic and interviewed the subject matter experts to identify the key problem, the actions to solve it, and the desired outcome: 


Non-native English-speaking professionals can apply self-regulation strategies to overcome their fears of speaking and leverage career opportunities while reaching business goals.


Once I identified the most important actions that lead to the desired outcome, I crafted a realistic storyboard framed around a person who works at an international company. They’re part of a project team working on acquiring an English-speaking client. Through this process, this person has to decide how to manage their anxiety to speak and contribute to the team’s success.

You are a confident and communicative person. You've studied English for years but when you speak it, everything feels off.

Visual Design

I decided to use realistic imagery that shows diverse and international professional settings and created a mood board and a style guide. After that, I developed a visual mockup using Adobe XD and designed the templates for the different components of the scenarios and the choices.

Different slide designs showing young people in corporate settings

Following Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement, “the medium is the message,” I strongly believe in the importance of visual design and visual communication in creating impactful learning experiences.


For this case, I worked with the concept of a software “glitch,” referring to how many non-native language speakers perceive their performance as deficient and flawed. The problematic situations presented through the scenarios and the bad decisions are framed with “glitchy” imagery and animation. In contrast, the path that leads to the desired actions is presented in a clean, colorful design that gives a sense of calm positivity.

Interaction Design

By giving the user a relatable, realistic scenario and asking them to make decisions, they’re actively immersed in the situations. They see their choices’ outcomes and experience the corresponding consequences. 

A scenario-based learning experience gives the user a safe environment to explore and reflect on their situations and gain new insights they can apply in their contexts. 


After a wrong decision, the user experiences the consequence and is prompted to try again. The correct answers are positively reinforced by showing a star.  


In the end, the user can review the different scenarios to see constructive feedback, which is one more opportunity to reinforce the message and help them leave the experience with a positive boost.


I developed a prototype of the setup and the first scenario to gather feedback from my SMEs regarding the layout and flow.


After getting feedback, I developed a complete prototype and tested it again with my SMEs and a group of users. I primarily worked with the timeline, animations, and triggers in Articulate Storyline for this project.

The Results

Besides Photoshop for image editing, I built this entire learning experience using Articulate Storyline 360. This has reinforced the idea that constraints make you creative.


The feedback from non-native speakers has been very positive. They strongly relate to the scenarios and value the pieces of advice given. Some also emphasize how this learning experience makes them feel acknowledged. In fact, this project addresses a phenomenon known as foreign language anxiety.


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