hero image
Sara Smith - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

Sara Smith

Associate Professor | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

Sara Smith is an expert on emerging technologies for language learning, including digital environments and immersive virtual environments.


Sara Smith uses technology, including augmented reality and virtual reality, to develop immersive, personalized, research-based learning experiences that integrate into the learner’s physical environment. The broad aim of her research program is to gain a better understanding of linguistic experience and how it impacts language, cognition, literacy, and academic achievement. She also has expertise in disability among diverse learners. Sara develops new technologies for teaching and learning, including an AR vocabulary application for English learners and mixed reality solutions for learning new languages for professional purposes. In her teaching, Sara focuses on helping instructors integrate technology into their teaching and provide differentiated instruction.

Areas of Expertise (16)

Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality

Learning Differences




Dual Language Learners


Language Learning

Bilingual Education



Emerging Technologies

Language and Literacy Development

Learning Technology

Mixed Reality

Media Appearances (3)

The global reach of Florida innovations

Florida Trend  online


With no background to speak of in business, entrepreneurship or technology, Sara Smith has spent the last couple years as a part-time entrepreneur starting up a technology business. Fortunately, it’s based on what she knows thoroughly: Learning a second language. Smith is a University of South Florida assistant professor of learning English as a second language and language education.

view more

MARVL: USF Professor Develops App to Help Bilingual Students

Spectrum News  tv


“(Augmented reality) lets the child feel like they’re living in a Pixar movie. It really adds this element of whimsy and magic on top of the lesson,” said Sara Smith, who developed the MARVL app. Smith, an assistant professor of ESOL and foreign language at USF, came up with the idea several years ago. The idea came to her when she saw a friend’s son playing Pokémon Go.

view more

A Better Way to Learn New Languages

The Inventivity Podcast  radio


Despite the plethora of language learning tools, learning a new language is still very difficult for many people. What if it was much easier and much more fun? Dr. Sara Smith, a finalist for the 2020 Cade Prize, Oxford and Harvard educated Assistant Professor at USF, and CEO of MARVL shares how her patented augmented reality app can change how we learn languages.

view more


Articles (3)

What Motivates Multilingual Children and Youth to Read? A Systematic Review of the Research

Journal of Language, Identity & Education

Sara A. Smith, et. al


Children’s desire to read plays a crucial role in becoming a skilled reader, however, less research has examined the experiences of multilingual children. The current study reviewed the peer-reviewed literature on motivation for and attitudes toward reading in multiple languages among children. The review was guided by the following research questions: What are the characteristics of studies examining motivation and reading in multiple languages among children and youth?

view more

Leveraging Technology to Increase Access to Differentiated Instruction: A Case Study of a Synchronous Remote Delivery Dual Language Intervention for English Learners

Journal of Interactive Learning Research

Sara A. Smith, et. al


Research suggests that elementary English Learners (ELs) benefit from interactive dual-language vocabulary instruction delivered one-on-one or in small groups. However, there are many barriers to providing this type of instruction to all ELs, including time constraints and bilingual teacher shortages. Thus, there is a high need for innovative, cost, and time effective solutions to support the growing population of ELs in the US. This exploratory case study examined the feasibility and viability of a scripted intervention designed for synchronous remote delivery.

view more

Exploring the Promise of Augmented Reality for Dual Language Vocabulary Learning among Bilingual Children: A Case Study

CALICO Journal

Sara A. Smith, et. al


There is increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of augmented reality (AR) education applications, yet comparatively few reports exploring AR for early childhood. Augmented reality is uniquely suited to language instruction and the early elementary context, thus has potential to support the growing number of English language learners (ELLs) in the United States. The current study describes the early stages in the development of a dual language AR application for teaching vocabulary to ELLs.

view more





loading image