At the Language Center, we prepare all Stanford students to have a foreign language capability that enhances their academic program and enables them to live, work, study, and research in a different country. Stanford students need to be able to initiate interactions with persons from other cultures but also to engage with them on issues of mutual concern.
In order to accomplish this goal for Stanford students, the Language Center is proficiency-oriented and standards-based. A proficiency orientation refers to emphasizing doing rather than knowing. We try to make sure that students learn to speak, listen, read, and write in ways that are immediately useful in a real world setting. Based in research and theory on language and on discourse functions, this orientation is adaptive, compensatory, and developmental, not additive. Standards-based refers to the National Standards on Foreign Language Learning that attend not only to linguistic dimensions, but also to connections that learners make between languages, cultures, and various academic areas; comparisons between languages and cultures; and a knowledge of communities that speak a particular language. Our programs are attentive to the pragmatics of each language and culture and respectful of the relationship between genre and function.