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Language Requirement

Stanford students are required to complete one year of college-level study in a foreign language (or the equivalent). Students can fulfill the requirement in any one of the following ways:

  • Completing three quarters of a first-year 4-5 unit language course at Stanford or the equivalent at another recognized post secondary institution subject to current University transfer credit policies.
  • Scoring 4 or 5 on the AP language test in a language other than English. Literature scores are no longer accepted.
  • Achieving a satisfactory score on the SAT-II in the following languages:
    • Chinese: 630
    • French: 640
    • German: 630
    • Hebrew: 540
    • Italian: 630
    • Japanese: 620
    • Korean: 630
    • Latin: 630
    • Spanish: 630
  • Taking a diagnostic test in a particular language which either:
    a) places them out of the requirement or
    b) diagnoses them as needing one, two, or three additional quarters of college-level study. If the latter case (b), the requirement can be filled either by:
    c) passing the required number of quarters of college-level language study at Stanford or the equivalent elsewhere or
    d) retaking the diagnostic test at a later date and placing out of the requirement.

Students who pass out of the language requirement but wish to pursue further study should take the placement test to determine the most appropriate course for them.

The Enhanced Language Requirement

Language programs at Stanford University housed in the language departments (Asian Languages, French and Italian, German Studies, Slavic, and Spanish and Portuguese) as well as through the Center itself (Arabic, Hebrew, Swahili, as well as an array of additional less-commonly taught languages) have committed themselves to imparting to students a set of second language literacies. This means that beyond having students informed about the belles lettres of the cultures they choose to study, all Stanford language programs are also committed to having students use their speaking, listening, reading and writing in the language of their choice for learning in all of their academic and personal endeavors.

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 ACTFL-FSI scale [American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages-Foreign Service Institute]. In the non-cognate languages, the levels are set at novice high on the ACTFL-FSI scale. Students in each language program are assessed annually. Their performances indicate that they do indeed meet these objectives after one year (30 weeks) of foreign language instruction. Clearly, the Stanford language programs meet a high national standard. In addition to these fundamental standards that all programs meet, individual programs may meet additional objectives that are particularly important or specially reflective of their program traditions and student interests.