American Language & Culture


Program Dates: ALC was permanently discontinued in 2020
Open to: Current or incoming university undergraduate & graduate students 18 and older (primarily from universities in Asia, but open to other regions)
Location: Stanford University

The American Language & Culture (ALC) Program in Silicon Valley combines academic English classes with activities aimed at exploring contemporary American culture. The English classes, offered by the Stanford Language Center’s English for Foreign Students (EFS) department, are designed to improve students’ oral communication in English and guide students in analyzing sociocultural issues, especially current social issues in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area.

Extracurricular activities in the afternoons and weekends might include visiting local organizations, attending guest lectures, and exploring the surrounding environment. These activities add rich experiential elements to students’ in-class learning.



How to learn more!

Click on the titles or ( + ) circles  below for more information about the programs. If you have any other questions, check our ALC FAQ Page for more details. If you still have other questions, you can email us at siliconvalley@viaprograms.org.

The program fee includes:

  • Stanford tuition (approximately $4,100)
  • Dormitory housing
  • Full meal plan
  • Organization visits and volunteer activities
  • Guest speakers & panel discussions
  • 24-hour support from on-site VIA staff

Total: $7,900 (estimated – program fee will be finalized in early spring 2020 based on Stanford tuition and housing rates for summer 2020)

The program fee does NOT include:

  • Airfare
  • Visa or ESTA application fees
  • Fees associated with international payment (e.g., international bank transfers or credit card fees)
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional activities
  • Personal shopping expenses


ALC 2013 Participant Masaya“Although the program is called “American Language and Culture,” I’ve certainly learned a number of things about the cultures of other Asian nations as well. During the month at Stanford, I spoke with many of the other Asian participants about the similarities and differences between our cultures. I was fascinated every time when I found differences between our cultures even though we are all from Asia, and also when there were similarities despite the fact that there are also aspects where we feel we come from completely different worlds. The daily conversations we had with each other are what built the everlasting bonds among us, and also what gave me an open mind towards different senses of values and ways of thinking that people from foreign countries have.” – Masaya Tatsuta, ALC 2013 Participant, Doshisha University


ALC 2012 Participant Denise“The ALC program opened the door to a summer school with diverse students and opportunities for thorough English practice and social communication. ALC was exactly the kind of program I was longing for. And in fact, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. After the program, I decided to study Japanese. Every time when I hear myself speaking in Japanese, I feel closer to my ALC friends from Japan. Through the program I experienced that close human connections is what can make things different.” – Heng (Denise) Tang, ALC 2012 Participant, Peking University

Application Process

To apply to ALC, you must be 18 years or older by the first day of the program. If your online application is accepted, you will be invited to participate in an interview with one of the program staff.

Online Application

  • Part 1: Basic Information
    • Personal & Contact Information
    • Academic Information
  • Part 2: Essay Questions
    • Reason for applying to ALC: Why do you want to participate in the ALC program? What do you hope to learn or achieve?
    • Potential Research Topic(s): In your English class, you will do a project on a particular aspect of contemporary American culture that interests you. You can look at past topics here. You can choose topics that are NOT on this list as well. Please describe 2-3 topics you are interested in, and why.
    • Tell us about yourself: We would like to get to know you better, so that we can tailor the program to your interests and needs. Please write 1-2 paragraphs describing your hobbies, your personality, and your plans after graduation.

Essay-writing tip: Review the questions and begin writing your essays in a Word document. You can take your time and check your English while writing them. When you are finished, you can copy/paste them into your application. This way, you will also have a backup copy of your essays.

After beginning your application, you will be able to save your progress and continue working on it later.


If your online application passes the first round, VIA or your university will invite you to the second round interview stage shortly after the application deadline. Interviews will be conducted by Skype or phone. The interview will last about 15 minutes – about 10 minutes of answering the interviewer’s questions, and 5 minutes for you to ask questions and learn more about the program.

After the interview round, VIA or your university will notify you if you are or are not selected for the program within about three weeks. If you are selected, you will receive instructions for the next steps to enroll in the program.

Special Instructions

  • Waseda University students, please first apply through the Center for International Education (Ryugaku Center).
  • Doshisha University, National Taiwan University, National Taiwan Normal University, National Taiwan University of Science & Technology, and National Taipei University of Education students, if your application passes the online selection, you will sign up for interviews through your school.
  • Applicants from VIA’s partner universities in Taiwan should contact their university administrator in charge of study abroad programs for assistance – National Taiwan University, National Chengchi University, National Taiwan Normal University, National Taiwan University of Science & Technology, National Taipei University of Education, and Shih Chien University.
  • Students from Taiwanese universities not listed above can contact Luke Liu (luke @ via-alc.tw) of the Ming Shin International Education Center for support (http://www.via-alc.tw/) or contact VIA directly.