On-campus internships create new ways to teach languages

The BYU College of Humanities offers an on-campus internship course where students work on creative, language study-based projects. One of the projects is Language Like Locals, a Spanish language newsletter. (Cassidy Wixom)

The BYU College of Humanities offers an on-campus internship course where students work on creative, language study projects.

WordScenes and Language like Locals are two innovative internship projects used to teach languages in innovative ways.

The Humanities On-campus Experiential Projects course is overseen by academic advisor Doug Porter. He said it revolves around learning project management skills, effective teamwork and managing relationships with clients.

However, Porter said the main focus for students is their sponsored language project. These projects are led by real company sponsors.

He said when students add the course, they submit an application to determine which internship project fits best with their interests and backgrounds.

Oftentimes, BYU alumni will become sponsors, or businesses are referred to Porter. He said the sponsors submit an application and talk with him about the interns and resources he has available.

“A lot of students went on LDS missions where they learned languages and are now interested in doing something with those languages,” Porter said, adding that the number one priority is to promote career readiness.


WordScenes is one of the internship projects and will be launched as an app at the end of 2021. It uses scenes from television and movies to provide context while users are learning a new language.

Co-founder and BYU MBA student Jordan Ellett said he believes there currently isn’t anything out there that will give customers a tailored experience to learn a language.

WordScenes is a language learning startup company BYU students work on during their humanities internship course. WordScenes was created by BYU alumni Tyler Slater and Travis Nuttal, as well as current BYU MBA student Jordan Ellett. (Jordan Ellett)

Ellett said the project’s most prioritized feature will be customized lessons for each user. WordScenes creators want to use the context, visual emotion and storyline in filmed mediums while users experience language on a deeper level.

“Similar to how Google Maps indexed the physical world, we want to index language,” Ellett said.

He said WordScenes will give app users the scenes that represent what they’re trying to learn and the context behind it. WordScenes hopes to help people foster connections across boundaries and cultures.

“Breaking down language and cultural boundaries is so fulfilling and exciting. There’s too much division in the world and WordScenes is something to help us understand one another,” he said.

Language Like Locals

Another internship project within the class is Language Like Locals, a weekly informational Spanish newsletter. Junior communication disorders major Jillian Anderson is a student in the internship class working on the newsletter.

She said BYU alumnus Andrew Walton recognized LDS returned missionaries needed something to help them maintain their Spanish skills while giving them other language learning contexts besides religion.

The Language Like Locals title page will often feature the meanings of popular Spanish phrases. The newsletter is sent out to subscribers weekly. (Jillian Anderson)

Anderson said Walton came up with the idea of a Spanish newsletter that could offer fun and exciting content and now oversees the project.

Language Like Locals includes travel sections on different countries each week and newsreels from those countries, Anderson said. Recipe and song suggestions, with links to Spotify, are featured from various Latin American countries, as well as a “word or question of the day” segment.

Anderson said Language Like Locals is a perfect on-campus internship to prepare her for her career.

She is minoring in Spanish and said the newsletter is very valuable to her because it gives her access to real-world situations, news and content native Spanish speakers use or see.

“I know after graduating, I’ll be working with people in the real world. I feel like this newsletter reaffirms BYU’s message of going forth to serve by helping readers broaden their language skills to reach more of God’s children,” she said.

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