Skip navigation


Our Mission

  • Encourage excellence in foreign language teaching
  • Establish and maintain performance standards
  • Provide professional enhancement activities for the teaching staff
  • Develop a research program about language teaching and learning

Teaching Staff and Students

The Language Center regularly offers fourteen languages and approximately thirty Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) on demand. At present, there are sixty full-time lecturers, thirty part-time lecturers, and a small cadre of graduate students who teach each quarter. The Language Center has a quarterly enrollment of more than 2500 students. This figure indicates that, in the aggregate, the language programs constitute the largest sector of the required undergraduate programs at Stanford.

Proficiency Objectives

For all languages at Stanford, proficiency objectives in each of the skill areas have been established for one year of study. For the most commonly taught languages, such as French, German, and Spanish), listening, speaking, reading, and writing objectives are set at the intermediate-mid level of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages-Foreign Service Institute (ACTFL-FSI) scale. In the non-cognate languages, the levels are generally set at novice high on the ACTFL-FSI scale.


Since 1996, Stanford has conducted its written placement testing online so that more time can be spent during orientation for oral assessments. In the Digital Language Laboratory, Stanford teachers are able to efficiently assess students’ oral performances in foreign language on a daily basis, if they choose. Performing oral assessments online and conducting Simulated Oral Proficiency Interviews (SOPIs) are critical uses of technology that bring about high performance among students and a high level of satisfaction among instructors.