ABSTRACT The current cry of ‘back to basics’ can also be heard among foreign language educators. This article traces some of the causes for discontent, especially the lack of common goals in the profession, the proliferation of disconnected options, and the unrealistic expectations our instructional materials put on the learner. The author warns of interpreting ‘the basics’ too narrowly and maintains that foreign language study has a unique place and function in the general curriculum. She proposes reinstatement of a general language requirement, but only after we have re-examined our discipline for the inherent knowledge and skills which will contribute to emphasizing fundamental humanistic goals for all learners. She calls for the development of an articulated curriculum from FLES through college, differentiating between general requirement courses and those intended for the specialist aiming toward mastery of the target language.