Language in Motion

2002 Heiskell Award Winner: Internationalizing the Campus

Nomination submitted by: Deborah Roney, Ph.D., Program Director, Center for International Education

Program Mission 
"Language in Motion exposes rural and mono-cultural high school students to native speakers of the language they are studying and to young people just like themselves who are fluent in a second language and comfortable in different cultures."

Language in Motion is an innovative cooperative outreach program using international students, study abroad returnees, and upper-level foreign language students to enrich small, rural, public school language classrooms. After participating in workshops on language teaching methodology, distance learning techniques, and idea development, the college students work with local public school language teachers to create language and cultural activities appropriate to various grade levels. Presentations are made in and about French, German, Russian, and Spanish, both in the classrooms and via distance learning. Presentations on other languages and countries are occasionally offered to show public school students the breadth of human culture.

This replicable model increases young people's interest in second-language learning and study abroad while engaging international and language students in community-based service learning. Professional development opportunities for local language teachers strengthen the impact of the program and the quality of the teaching in the local schools.

A program evaluation reported: The pilot year of 2000-2001 exceeded our expectations. A full 100% of the teacher evaluations indicated that the program should continue or expand in their school districts. Most teachers wanted us almost whenever we could come, primarily because we were working together with them to bring experiences that would advance their particular curricular goals for each class, rather than bringing in canned, one-size-fits-all presentations. Additional teachers asked to join the program. Our second year continues that strong teacher interest.

Responses from participating high school students and Juniata College students ranged from positive to very enthusiastic, and most suggestions were to add more presentations or make existing presentations longer. Last year, 89% of participating high school students wanted us to provide another experience similar to the ones we had presented in their classrooms. In addition, 67% of public school student participants agreed that having Language in Motion in their classrooms increased their interest in or made them consider both studying the language further and going abroad at some point. In our area, this is a real coup. All Juniata participants noted significant learning, personal growth, and emotional rewards from the experience.