The process of learning a second language (L2) is both an intensive and time-consuming activity. After years of experience in training field agents, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,320 hours of full-time instruction are needed to reach a level of high fluency (Bialystok and Hakuta 1994, 34). This means that the time commitment for learning a Romance language minimally approaches 20 weeks of intensive, full-time study at 30 hours per week for a grand total of 600 hours, while for other languages, such as Russian and Chinese, the ideal exposure can exceed 44 weeks at 30 hours per week, or 1,320 hours. However, most university students spend on average only 150 hours per academic year actively studying a second language (10 weeks at 5 hours per week for three quarters = 150 total hours). Those students who began studying a second language in high school and continued at the university level find that most of the material taught in their second language classrooms appears to be remedial. However, it is a simple fact that it takes from four to six years to reach functional proficiency in a second language even counting the additional high school exposure (Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning, by Robert J. Blake, 2008).
Naturally, Study Abroad has been an effective way of dealing with the impoverished or insufficient input in the target language that impedes the development of student proficiency. However, given the fact that not all students are able to study abroad, technology, if used wisely, can play a major role in enhancing L2 learners’ contact with the target language. It is the mission of the Language Resource Center to enhance access to target language input by providing tutoring in the target language, conceptual scaffolding of target language processes, video media in the target language, access to tutorial software, and the technology required to produce documents, presentations, videos, and audio recordings as target language output options. In short, the LRC is designed to bring target language input to life.