EFS 687 American Language and Culture: Silicon Valley 2020
EFS 687, American Language and Culture (commonly abbreviated as ALC) is a 4-week intensive program during the month of August (for 2020, August 2-29). The program is run in collaboration with VIA, a private, non-profit organization based at Stanford dedicated to Asia/US public service and education. Students do not apply to Stanford or EFS for this program, rather they are recruited by VIA from select universities in China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. A major focus for the 2020 program is the language and culture of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
A note on coronavirus (COVID-19)
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This year, we anticipate a small number of openings for students who wish to apply directly to the program (through VIA). To be eligible, a student must be currently attending or recently graduated from a university: preference is given to students from East Asia or Southeast Asia, but others will be considered. Prospective students should understand the overall goals and content of the program, which can be accessed on the VIA website. A minimum TOEFL score of 500 (paper)/173(computer)/61(iBT) or equivalent proficiency is required. Students need to submit an application and be interviewed (in person or over the phone) to be accepted to the program. If you are interested in applying, please contact Patrick Arnold (email@example.com) at VIA.
EFS 687 American Language and Culture is designed to improve students' oral communication in English while providing analysis of and experience in a variety of topical sociocultural issues. This integration of the academic with the experiential offers students an enriching curriculum to further language development and to analyze aspects of US culture from a sociological perspective. Given the brevity of the course, we select four issues from the areas of diversity, innovations in decision-making, environmental initiatives, voluntarism, family, and stratification. These issues are addressed within the following two classes which make up the course:
This class is concerned primarily with developing spoken language fluency. The emphasis here will vary according to level, with greater emphasis on listening comprehension at the lower levels and on oral presentation at the higher levels. All students will participate in small-group interactive tasks encouraged to increase their fluency in self-expression and their contributions to group discussions.
The objective of this class is to gain a sociological perspective on the issues listed earlier. Through readings and videotapes, students explore and discuss topics with the guidance of the instructor. To ensure a common frame of reference, a weekly lecture is taught by instructors from the Department of Sociology. In addition to the morning lectures, the students will be introduced to research methods and tools by means of laboratory simulations at other times. Each week the English instructors will prepare students for the lecture and follow up with review, discussion, and evaluation of comprehension. A course reader will provide related readings for orientation to lecture topics and for further analysis.
To enable students to explore their individual interests as well as their class topics in greater depth, the course requires each student to complete an individual project. With the help of the Topic Development instructor, students choose to design and conduct either library-based research or a community survey. The project culminates in a written report of the results for Topic Development and in a final oral report presented for fellow students in Effective Communication.
Placement and Class Schedule
Upon arrival the students are divided into sections of 8-12 students each according to their level of aural/oral proficiency on the placement exam. Effective Communication and Topic Development each meet for 90 minutes every morning, Monday through Friday, for a total of 60 instructional hours over the four weeks. Given the program's emphasis on promoting oral communication, the placement exam assesses aural/oral skills rather than grammar or writing abilities. Following a thirty-minute multiple-choice listening test, the students are interviewed individually. Students are assigned to sections based on the results of both tests and other factors such as the gender ratio and university/country of origin. This ensures not only diversity in backgrounds, but also exclusive use of English during class sessions.
At the end of the course instructors meet individually with students to provide feedback on their progress. While they comment on the students' proficiency, credit in the four-week course is determined by the quality of students' completion of assignments, active class participation, and overall effort. The individual project is evaluated as an oral report in Effective Communication and as a written report in Topic Development. Grades are awarded on the scale of A, B, C, D and no pass (failure), with + and - modifications.