ABSTRACT This article proposes that in-situ exploration, a methodology adapted from field-based learning of unwritten languages, has useful applications in the American foreign language classroom. Based on learner independence and community involvement, in-situ exploration utilizes native-speaking mentors, who, using a five-step “Learning Cycle,” help guide learners in defining their language-learning needs, and in drawing effective language from the local community. In the process of learning the basics of the new language, students learn the skills needed to continue self-directed learning once formal training has been completed.