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Language in Motion: Cultivating Cultural Curiosity in Central Pennsylvania

Introducing: Language in Motion

Over twenty years ago, Juniata College stepped up to cultivate cultural curiosity in Central Pennsylvania by providing enrichment opportunities to local schools, whose teachers craved such experiences for themselves and their students. Over twenty years ago, we founded Language in Motion (LiM) to embody that mission. Using our students and their educational experiences, we crafted a program to diversify the cultural knowledge base of the surrounding area. And we have succeeded. 

Through Language in Motion, Juniatians from a variety of backgrounds share their experiences in local classrooms, celebrating their multicultural identities and furthering the cultural competency of local students. Study abroad returners, those with diverse heritage, language enthusiasts, international students, and future teachers, biologists, environmentalists, diplomats, provide an interactive, multicultural lesson. Topics range from Japanese Collectivism to Vedic Math to comparing the United States’ systems to those in other countries. Evaluations from students, presenters, and teachers have highlighted the incredible impact our program has on the education of students across Central Pennsylvania.

Local Engagement & Learning Beyond the Classroom

Part of our curriculum at Juniata requires participating in a local engagement course to work with and better the surrounding community while learning more from them. Language in Motion (WL-201) can be taken as a 1-credit course and satisfies this requirement fully. Interested students are able to take the course again at increased levels. The class meets for the first weeks of school to gather Juniata student information for teachers and provide aid while creating their presentations. After those first weeks, the class stops meeting on Juniata’s campus, and students go out to local schools to celebrate their culture and engage students in related activities. 

Language in Motion is one program at Juniata which we consider to be a high-impact practice, an outside-of-the-classroom learning experience that allows students to apply what they’re learning. Other programs within this vein include student research, student teaching, studying abroad, and senior capstone projects. We encourage all of our students to take part in at least one high-impact practice while they are here, and many participate in more than one. Participating in Language in Motion not only allows students to share their cultural identities but offers students professional experience they can include on their resume. These skills include but are not limited to:

  • Communicating with teachers in the local area to create presentations which fit their curriculum and craft exciting educational experiences for the classroom.
  • Quickly and efficiently responding to requests for presentations and sharing scheduling information.
  • Teaching language and culture to students K-12 in a digestible way that engages their minds and encourages them to become global citizens.
  • Practicing efficient public speaking in the classroom to students in K-12 schools.
  • Honing digital and in-person presentation skills using engaging and accessible PowerPoint features.

On a liberal arts campus, Language in Motion benefits from the perspectives of students from a broad range of studies and interests. Several years ago, a psychology honors student conducted a research study on our presenters’ responses to their Language in Motion experiences and how they were changed by our program. She found Language in Motion presenters were better at perspective taking and knowledge application. She also discovered they had increased their understanding of personal and social responsibility.

Language in Motion at Juniata has been enthusiastically supported by Juniata students and their surrounding communities for over 20 years. We look forward to welcoming you to our ongoing celebration of culture in the coming years. Over 20 years ago, we chose to further cultural competency in Central Pennsylvania and every semester since our students continue to make that same choice. Stepping up is what it means to be a true Juniatian, and we cannot wait to see you make this choice, too!