The Stanford Non-Native Rapper Contest

Fostering Transcultural Competences Using Social Media

  • Per Urlaub
  • Joseph Kautz


The Stanford Non-Native Rapper Contest is an annual event organized by
the Digital Language Lab at Stanford University. Every year, language
instructors encourage undergraduate learners to engage in a creative
project: learners receive the opportunity to compose rap music, write
lyrics in the target language, produce videos, and share their clips via a
YouTube channel. The response from undergraduate students has been
positive: since the contest’s inception in 2008, almost 50 learners of world
languages and of less-commonly taught languages have participated, and
their clips have been viewed by more than 30,000 internet users in less
than three years. The first part of this article describes the evolution of the
project and outlines the roles of the language lab facilities and its staff
members in organizing this collaborative learning environment. The
second part of the article will contextualize Stanford’s Non-Native Rapper
Contest within current theoretical debates that relate to the acquisition of
transcultural competences and to alternative assessment in collegiate
language learning environments.