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Intensive English and Academic Orientation for Visiting Scholars

Preparation for Visiting Scholars

All EFS programs and classes for Summer 2020 and Summer 2021 have been canceled, including those that might have been offered online. We hope to see interested students in 2022.

EFS 688V is an intensive English and academic orientation program designed to prepare incoming visiting scholars of all types (researchers, professors, postdoctoral fellows, etc.) for their US university experience. Many of the scholars in previous years have been associated with the Asia/Pacific Research Center. This program is primarily designed for scholars who are coming to Stanford in the coming academic year, but current visitors and those planning to go to other universities are also welcome to apply. Please read carefully through the program information to be sure the program is appropriate for you and that you meet the application requirements, before proceeding to the application procedures.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:  As a Visiting Scholar sponsored by Stanford (J status), you should be aware that if you take this course, it cannot delay the completion of your original program listed on your DS-2019. Incidental courses, including 688V, are allowable for those in J Scholar status only if they do not delay the completion of the J program.

The goals of this program are the following:

  • to improve the scholar's fluency and accuracy in English as much as possible during the period of instruction;
  • to develop the scholar's ability to continue learning and using effective communication strategies throughout the stay in the United States;
  • to provide an orientation to the expectations of the university, faculty, and peers both inside and out of the classroom and research lab;
  • to prepare scholars to be more confident and active participants in all aspects of their academic pursuits.

Scholars meet as a group for morning classes in pronunciation and reading/writing/vocabulary. They are then mixed with the students from EFS 688 for afternoon spoken language classes.

Reserved class times are MThF 10:00-11:50 and MTThF 1:30-3:20. Elective courses (EFS 689 sections) will be scheduled for late afternoons and Wednesdays. Due to the intensive nature of the instruction, we do not encourage scholars to take other Stanford courses while they are in this program.

In addition to classroom instruction, scholars will be doing work in the language laboratory and university libraries. Orientation to life at Stanford is provided by discussions, informal outings, and social events in conjunction with summer activities at Bechtel International Center and the dormitories.

All scholars who enroll in this program must agree to comply with the following requirements:

  • Speak only English in class and in all program activities.
  • Attend classes regularly, every session each day for all six weeks.
  • Fulfill all course requirements, including meeting paper deadlines.
  • Demonstrate substantial effort and progress in the development of communication skills in English necessary for academic success.


Core Classes

All scholars will have seventeen class hours each week, divided among the following classes.

Listening Comprehension and Discussion. This class consists of activities involving listening to recorded excerpts from television, radio, and university lectures, with special emphasis on comprehending reduced forms, idiomatic expressions, and rapid speech. The content of these excerpts provides topics and issues so that students can get experience in talking freely in small groups with guidance from the instructor. The purpose is to prepare students to participate actively and effectively in group meetings, academic discussions and graduate seminars.

Effective Communication. This class provides practice in conversational English with emphasis on current usage in natural situations for both academic and everyday uses of English. It also includes training and practice in the presentation of prepared academic talks with feedback from the instructor and classmates. The language focus is on fluency and clear, effective pronunciation.

Writing and Pronunciation.  This class meets three mornings a week and focuses on language production. It presents an overview of selected elements of English academic and professional writing. In addition concepts central to English pronunciation are explained, demonstrated, and practiced, including not only a review of the basic sounds, but also the stress, intonation and rhythm patterns so important to natural-sounding speech. Scholars typically meet in pairs for weekly tutorials with the instructor.

Hillier Lecture Series. Each week includes a one-hour academic lecture Tuesdays at 11:00 by a Stanford faculty member. Presenters come from various departments but offer topics of general interest. This provides additional practice in listening comprehension and contact with Stanford professors and lecturers.

Community Lecture Series.  On Friday afternoons, we host individual speakers and panels from the Stanford community speaking on topics of cultural interest. The presentation is followed by a social hour where students can interact with the guest speakers, EFS teaching staff and one another in a natural social setting.

Elective Classes: EFS 689

In addition to the courses listed above, scholars in EFS 688V may take elective courses. These are offered as sections of EFS 689, Special Topics in English. Each requires one additional unit of tuition: see the application for information on the cost.

EFS 689B:  Building Communication Skills through Improvisation

Would you like to be a more confident and spontaneous speaker in English?  How about a better listener and more effective team member? Improvisation gives you the tools to be more confident and collaborative with friends, in your classes, and in the workplace.  In this class, you will learn and practice theatrical improvisation games and techniques that will help you with spontaneity, team building, storytelling, and confident public speaking—all in a friendly and supportive environment. The course is co-taught by an improvisation expert and an English language instructor. No previous improvisation or theater experience necessary.

EFS 689H:  American Humor

Humor is an important part of life at American universities. Professors often tell jokes during lectures and group meetings, students like to "kid around", and campus newspapers feature editorial cartoons and humor columns. In this course, students study many examples of jokes and humorous stories that Americans find amusing, practicing advanced listening comprehension and expanding your understanding of English idioms at the same time. Note that this is an advanced class: An iBT TOEFL score of 100 or above is strongly recommended.

EFS 689S: Exploring Silicon Valley Language and Culture

This course focuses on developing the communicative skills in the context of Silicon Valley with its unique culture and language patterns. By interacting with authentic materials, such as blogs and videos, you will gain familiarity with local norms for interacting with the people who live and work in Silicon Valley. You will engage in discussions about topics relevant to local entrepreneurs, workers, and students; in doing so, you will improve your ability to understand and produce appropriate language forms for various purposes. At the end of the term, you will be responsible for an individual project that demonstrates your understanding of issues pertinent to Silicon Valley culture or business such as an elevator pitch, a business proposal, or a critical essay. This class is particularly recommended for those who plan to live, work, or study in Silicon Valley.

EFS 689T  Interacting in California's Vineyard Culture

This course serves as a vehicle for developing focused communicative skills in the context of California's renowned wine culture.  You will learn the language of wine: how to talk about wine informally using appropriate terminology, navigate restaurant wine lists, and interact knowledgeably with restaurant and retail wine staff. At the same time, you will become a more sophisticated consumer of wine by learning the fundamentals of vineyard techniques, varietal characteristics, tasting techniques, and drinking and ordering etiquette. Classes are co-taught by a wine expert and an ESL instructor.  Each class meeting will consist of a short interactive lecture, a communicative activity such as role playing, and a tasting of four specially selected wines. Additional  fee of $100.00 (cash only) must be brought to the first class meeting. Participants must be at least 21 years old.

Application Procedures