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Frequently Asked Questions
Japanese FALCON Program

Questions Relating To Curriculum:

What is Japanese FALCON?

FALCON stands for Full-year Asian Language CONcentration. FALCON's comprehensive, full-time approach to Japanese instruction is designed to build, within a single year, the linguistic foundation, cultural understanding, and real-world Japanese language skills that students need to function independently in Japan.

Is there a Japanese house available for on-campus housing?

We do not have a Japanese house, but there is a language house which has accommodations for Japanese students. Occasionally, Japanese FALCON students choose to live in the language house.

How would FALCON benefit me?

Falcon is a full-time (full course load) intensive language instruction program, and if you take the whole calendar year from summer through spring, you progress from the beginning to the advanced level. This would give you approximately three years' worth of traditional academic language instruction in one year of FALCON.

I live in Syracuse.  Could I commute to FALCON?

This wouldn't really be feasible.  The course schedule runs Monday through Friday, from about 8:30 to about 4:30 with practice time in the lab and prep for the next day's class.  Adding drive time on top of the schedule would likely be too exhausting for you to maintain.

Can I take other classes while in FALCON?

No. FALCON is a full-time course load: if you take the entire full-year program, you will be enrolled for 8 credits in the summer, 16 credits in the fall, and 16 credits in the spring. Classes are in session Monday through Friday 8:30 to 4:30, with only small breaks during the day.

How many students are in Japanese FALCON every year?

The program is designed to have small sections of 6-9 students. This allows for plenty of individual attention from instructors. In any given year, as many as 30 students are enrolled in Japanese Summer FALCON but fall and spring semesters are limited to 12 full year students.

Can I benefit from Japanese FALCON if I was certified in the top level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test?

If your strength is in reading and comprehension rather than speaking then FALCON could be of great use to you since it would develop a good solid base in speaking.

I'm a non-native English speaker.  Can I succeed in FALCON?

Plenty of non-native English speakers have done well in FALCON. Your English would need to be strong enough that you could understand explanations of Japanese language and culture in English, but most of your other work would be conducted in Japanese. FALCON does not require the TOEFL exam.

Is there anywhere I can get a more detailed curriculum for your summer Japanese program than is on your website?

In the summer program, we cover almost all of Japanese: the Spoken Language, Book I by Jorden and Noda (usually get through Lesson 10 and sometimes through 11A). In addition, we cover 10 or 11 lessons of Japanese: the Written Language, by the same authors. Please note that we emphasize internalization of all material covered. This means that you have not merely "covered" it, but have internalized it and can use it accurately, with some sense of social propriety, with fluency and confidence.

Would a FALCON certificate get me a job teaching Japanese in the U.S.?

No, the certificate that you receive in FALCON certifies that you have completed the program and that you have earned a certain number of credits in the course. It is not an official certificate enabling you to teach the language.

What will my proficiency be once I've completed the Full-Year Japanese FALCON Program?

By the end of FALCON, students can expect to have internalized Japanese grammar and to feel comfortable applying it in everyday conversation. The student would have begun reading authentic Japanese publications of medium-level difficulty, and will be ready to begin pursuing his or her own special interests in reading. 

If I complete FALCON, will I be qualified to work in Japan?

Japan does not have any specific requirements in terms of language for working in the country. However, you would be have reached the point where you can converse with relative ease about everyday matters and you would have reached the point where you can understand the speech of Japanese people you encounter.

I want to study in Japan. How can Japanese FALCON help me?

FALCON does not place students in study-abroad programs. Japanese FALCON is conducted entirely on Cornell's campus. Students very often take the program in preparation to go to Japan, but all of our instruction is here in Ithaca.

I worked for two years in Japan and studied Japanese and passed the 3 kyuu level of the JLPT. I am currently studying for the 2 kyuu test. So, I was also wondering if it would be advisable to do the FALCON Program, or is FALCON just basic Japanese?

FALCON begins with basics in June but the work is extremely intensive. The fall is intermediate, and the spring is a bridge to advanced. We frequently enroll JET volunteers who have lived in Japan two or three years. If you pass the placement test, we can admit you in the fall or spring if that would be appropriate for you.

Questions Relating To Applying:

How do I know if I'm qualified to enter Intermediate Japanese FALCON?

We conduct placement interviews over the telephone for anyone that has studied Japanese. These interviews are used to determine if you are applying at the best level for your needs.

Should I include a language attachment form for languages studied in high school?

Yes, include your high school courses. The admissions committee likes to see all the languages you have studied formally. This helps them determine your experience as a language learner.

I'm applying as a visiting undergraduate. Should I have my high school transcript and/or SAT scores sent?

If you are currently an undergraduate that has been enrolled for two or more years, then you can send the transcripts from your university. If you have not enrolled as an undergraduate or have been at your university for less than two years, then we will need your high school transcripts.

I can write a little Japanese. Should I improve my writing skills before FALCON?

Improving your written skills will help you very little in FALCON, since the focus for the first two levels (summer and fall) is primarily on speaking and internalizing the structure of the language.

Can I visit FALCON?

Yes, we would love to have you come see us! However, we do discourage visitors from coming on an exam day, since there isn't much to see and it can also make the students self-conscious.

What's the difference between a "degree" and "non-degree" student?

Students who are enrolled at Cornell and are working toward a Cornell University degree would be "degree" students (at either the graduate or undergraduate level).

Students who are NOT in Cornell degree programs are welcome to apply to FALCON as "non-degree" applicants.

What if I decide to go to Cornell after my year with FALCON is over?

If you are interested in applying to and being accepted by Cornell as a regular Cornell University student, you should contact Cornell Admissions for details.  Realize that if you apply to and are accepted into Cornell, you would still have to apply to FALCON separately. Similarly, if you apply to FALCON and are accepted, that does not mean that you are accepted to Cornell as a regular student.

I was told during orientation that I have to finish my undergraduate degree program at Cornell in four years.  If my FALCON year counts as one of the four years I'll be spending at Cornell, then should I take a leave of absence from Cornell so that the year I take FALCON will not count toward on of my four Cornell years?

Permission is granted to use a 5th year for FALCON study by your individual college at Cornell. Determining factors include your financial aid package, your curriculum, etc. In Arts & Sciences, we do have students who have petitioned for a fifth year. Consult your advising Dean. S/he might also be able to help plan your classes so that you can complete FALCON and your degree in four years.

My son is a junior in high school, and he's interested in FALCON for the summer. Is it possible for him to attend?

We welcome high school students who are motivated and mature enough to do FALCON, however, the program is not designed for high school students. They would be among undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals. On one hand, younger people tend to internalize a new language much more easily than older people, so our high school students are often very successful. On the other hand, they don't always have experience with this level of rigor and this degree of structured demand for their time, so it can be a hard adjustment for some.

Is it true that the FALCON Program is designed to provide the student with enough of the language so that they can pursue international careers?

Yes, FALCON is adventagous for people who want to reach a high level of proficiency in Japanese but who have not studied it before, and would like to then further their skills  using the understanding of the language gained here.

Do I need to have a recommendation from a Japanese teacher to be considered for Japanese FALCON?

A recommendation from someone who taught you in a language class is a good thing to have, since s/he can attest to your general language-learning abilities. However, a letter from any professor who knows your work ethic, intelligence, etc. would also work.

Should recommendation letters be from teachers only?

Former teachers would be best, although we do see letters from employers as well. Select people whose recommendation will paint a clear picture of your language-learning skills, or at least the types of skills that make a good language learner: discipline, analytical ability, etc.

What are the Japanese language requirements for an M.A. in Asian Studies?

The requirements for the M.A. in Asian Studies are FALCON or the equivalent, and then the student usually takes one language course each term during the M.A. as well.

Questions Relating To Funding:

Undergraduate Students

                         Please click here for more information about Financial Aid

Are there any academic year scholarships available for undergraduate, non-degree/special students?

There are two types of funding available for Academic Year undergraduate FALCON students:  FLAS scholarships and FALCON Scholarships.  The FLAS scholarship covers a portion of the tuition and living expenses for the academic year. If you're here as a full-year or academic year student, you could apply for the FALCON (Spring) Semester Scholarship. It covers a portion of the spring semester tuition with preference given to Cornell University undergraduates. If you're coming from another institution, you should see what they might have available. Any private scholarship that you secure should be able to be applied to your tuition here.

Can I use the G.I. Bill for FALCON?

You'd need to contact Sofia Salce, the Veteran's Affairs contact. Please be aware that the G.I. Bill has predefined limits and may only cover part of your time at FALCON, leaving you to find additional funding.

Which private loan company is most highly recommended for career loans to cover FALCON?

Students in the past have used Key Bank, CitiAssist, Grad Access, Nellie Mae Excel, and the Educational Resource Institute. You might also try looking into the bank that you or your parents use for checking--sometimes they will offer good rates to existing customers.

Questions Relating To Funding:

Graduate Students

Please click here for more information about Financial Aid

How can I fund Summer FALCON?

Funding for summer study is not especially abundant. There is one option that you may want to look into: it’s called the FLAS, or Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. There is a separate summer-only competition for FLAS awards, and the fellowship pays tuition and a living stipend.

How can I fund Academic Year FALCON?

Any graduate student (degree or non-degree/Cornell or non-Cornell) is eligible to apply for loans through Cornell's financial aid office. Additional financial aid (housing, living expenses, etc.) would have to be handled through the graduate school. 

Do I have to submit GRE scores for the FLAS?  What if I were to substitute other standardized test scores?

In the past we have accepted GMAT and LSAT scores from FLAS competitors, although this is not really an optimal approach. The GRE is a better measure of the types of skills needed to succeed in language study and you'd be competing against people who took the GRE. Thus, to be a more competitive applicant, you may want to consider taking the GRE.

To clarify, are non-degree students eligible for FLAS Fellowships?

Non-degree graduate students are eligible as long as you have a Bachelor's Degree. Not being in a degree program does place you in a less competitive category, because preference is given to applicants who are in a graduate program. Highest preference is given to those in degree programs at Cornell. Since the FLAS is a "portable" fellowship, your odds of receiving it through your own school may be higher.  You may look into competing for this fellowship at your home institution and using it to study here.

Are acceptance rates for both the Japanese FALCON program available?

We don't maintain formal statistics, but generally it's actually not very hard to get into FALCON. The program is geared toward beginners in the language, but we do have a cap of 12 people in the fall/spring portion of the program.

When are admissions decisions available for the FALCON Program and the FLAS Fellowship?

If you applied to FALCON in the fall, it's possible that the director would review your application and make an admission decision before the start of the new semester in January. The FLAS committee's goal is to have the FLAS awards decided by the beginning of April.  Applicants will hear about FALCON admission before they hear about FLAS fellowship results.

I am a graduate student at another university, and I am not a U.S. citizen. Am I qualified to apply for the FALCON Semester Scholarship? 

Yes, you are qualified.  The International Students and Scholars office might be able to help with international student funding.

Can I use the G.I. Bill for FALCON?

You'd need to contact Sofia Salce to discuss your specific situation. Please be aware that the G.I. Bill monies will only cover part of your time at FALCON, so you'll need to find additional funding.