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A Note on Characters

We teach both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, starting with traditional characters in the summer term, then introducing simplified in the fall.  By the end of the fall, students are expected to be able to read both. Spring FALCON in Beijing emphasizes simplified characters, but students may continue to write in traditional characters if they prefer. 

A large number of the characters are the same in both traditional and simplified forms, and those that do differ are only in systematic, easily recognizable ways.  We provide a module that helps students make the transition to simplified characters.

Learning traditional characters before learning simplified is helpful for our students.
First of all, it's much easier to learn traditional characters first than to learn the two systems in the opposite order.  Secondly, while many of our students go on to work where simplified characters are standard, we also have students who have gone on to careers in Taiwan or Hong Kong where traditional characters are still the norm.  

Mandarin Chinese Curriculum

Over the past thirty years, FALCON has created a curriculum that develops students' ability to engage in culturally appropriate verbal interaction and the ability to read with accuracy. Students work on all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The full-year program in Chinese consists of an introductory level in the summer, intermediate level in the fall, and advanced level in the spring. Students need not enroll in the entire full-year program to participate in FALCON.

The program consists of four hours of daily instruction: four separate meetings of small, interactive classes conducted entirely in Chinese by native speakers.
Chinese is spoken in oral drill sessions, while English is used to explain grammatical points and to gloss Chinese words in order to assure that the student fully comprehends the new material.

There is individual attention as there are no more than eight students per section. You'll receive continuous feedback on pronunciation and grammar, and extra assistance when learning difficulties arise.

FALCON uses a variety of materials, many of them written specifically for this program. The introductory course makes extensive use of in-house materials, including grammatical notes and exercises, dialogs for conversation practice, character tutorials, reading materials, and interactive online materials.

As students advance, the selection broadens to include films, newspaper primers, and selections of short fiction and articles from periodicals. Traditional characters are taught first; then simplified characters. By the end of the program, students should be able to read both. Students also have access to University resources: libraries, museums, and films related to their own particular interests in Chinese.

Once FALCON students have finished the summer and fall terms at Cornell, they have the language skills necessary to benefit from total immersion. Full-year students spend their spring semester in Beijing, where they continue to improve their skills and put them to effective use in daily life.

Introductory Summer Level:  Chinese 1160 (8 credits)

Intermediate Summer Level:  Chinese 2201/2202 (8 credits)

Intermediate Level in the Fall:  Chinese 2260 (16 credits)

Advanced Level in the Spring (in Beijing):  Chinese 3360 (16 credits)