Just-in-Time Vocabulary Learning: Designing Adaptive Learning Modules to Support Spanish Language Internship Students

Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

For Spanish students, internships can pose a challenge regarding industry-specific vocabulary. Personal adaptive learning (PAL) modules were created to build students’ language competency in two internship fields: medicine and law. PAL modules focusing specifically on professional vocabulary, incorporated into Canvas companion course, constitute a new opportunity for  just-in-time adaptive learning.  



Shelly Wyatt is an instructional designer in the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida. She earned her PhD in instructional technology from UCF in 2013.

Extended Abstract

For college and university students pursuing a major or minor in a second language, internships serve a vital role in preparing graduates to find employment in the competitive fields of translation and interpretation. Internships provide clear benefits to students: 

  • Acquisition of hands-on experience, 

  • Networking,

  • Interpersonal 

  • Intercultural competence,

  • Problem-solving, and 

  • Advanced knowledge of the field (e.g., current terminology, industry norms). 

There is, however, a large gap between communicating in the target language in the classroom and communicating in specific professional contexts (i.e., without their instructors or classmates’ support and in a real-world context).  At our large public university), Spanish language internships are offered through the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in collaboration with the Division of Teaching and Learning’s Internship Program.  Internships have been conducted in-state (Orlando, Tampa, Miami), out-of-state (Texas, Illinois), and internationally (Argentina, Peru).  For students beginning an internship in what might be a potentially new cultural and interpersonal context, preparation to meet the demands of this new environment may make the difference between a successful experience that builds excitement and confidence. The challenge for instructors of internship courses involves the limited instructional opportunities to interact with students.  To respond to this challenge, the authors of this presentation implemented Cavanaugh et al.’s (2020) Adaptive Learning Design Framework, designing Spanish language personalized adaptive learning (PAL) modules for legal and medical terminology. These PAL modules were created using Realizeit, a PAL platform that allows instructors to create their own content and assessment items.  Industry-specific (medical and legal) Spanish vocabulary modules were added to the Canvas internship companion course, where students could select the Realizeit modules that fit their internship placement.  PAL modules focusing specifically on professional vocabulary, incorporated into an internship Canvas companion course, constitute a new digital potential for just-in-time adaptive learning.  This session will engage attendees by using online polling to elicit feedback.  Takeaways from this session include instructional design suggestions for incorporating PAL in internship courses.