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Language Placement and Testing

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Foreign Language Requirement

"The faculty considers competence in a foreign language essential for an educated person. Studying language other than one's own helps students understand the dynamics of language, our fundamental intellectual tool, and enables students to understand another culture. The sooner a student acquires competence, the sooner it will be useful. Hence, work toward the foreign language requirement should be undertaken in the first two years." -- (Cornell University Courses of Study)

Courses in foreign languages and/or literature are taught in the College of Arts and Sciences by the following departments: Africana Studies & Research Center, Asian Studies, China and Asia-Pacific Studies, Classics, Comparative Literature, German Studies, Linguistics, Near Eastern Studies, and Romance Studies. Asian languages offered are Bengali, Burmese, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi-Urdu, Indonesian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Nepali, Pali, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

The language requirement may be satisfied in one of two ways: 

  • Option 1: Passing (a) a nonintroductory foreign language course of 3 or more credits at Cornell at the 2000 level or above or(b)any other nonintroductory course at the 2000-level or above conducted in a foreign language at Cornell.
  • Option 2: Passing at least 11 credits of study in a single foreign language (taken in the appropriate sequence) at Cornell.

Any exceptions to these rules will be noted elsewhere in individual department descriptions. See the section on exemptions below.

Placement in Asian Language Courses

These scheduled placement tests are offered the week classes begin; there is also a make-up exam a couple of days after classes begin for students who cannot make it to the initial exam. We encourage you to take the initial placement exam because the make-up is given after the first day of classes. 

Placement tests are used for the purposes of course placement or exemption; no course credit may be earned through a placement test.

A Placement test IS NOT needed for: 

  • Students with no background in the language at all. You may enroll directly in the elementary level (some exceptions may apply, so please check individual courses for more information)

A Placement test IS needed for: 

  • Students who have had two or more years of high school study in the language.
  • Students who are bilingual or native speakers, or who have spoken the language at home.
  • Students who have been awarded credit for language work at another college or university and wish to continue with the language at Cornell.
  • The placement exam may have been taken in high school (SAT II, taken after the last course, or AP, if the score was 4 or 5) or at Cornell (LP Test). The instructors will still want to test you to judge which level will best suit you.


  • Students whose speaking, reading, and writing competence in a language other than English is at the same level we would expect our entering freshmen to have in English (as shown by completing high school in that language or by special examination during their first year here at Cornell) are exempt from the college's language requirement. (Cornell University Courses of Study)
  • Students outside of the College of Arts & Sciences, if granted exemption, should contact their own College Registar.  Each College stipulates their own policy regarding how credits are distributed.

Posting: Placement test results are posted for your convenience and only with your permission, for which we would need to know your Cornell ID number. Please tell the instructor giving the exam if you want your results posted and you will be given a permission slip to fill complete. Placement test results cannot be posted if you do not fill out one of these slips.

For more information, please contact

Schedule of Placement Examinations

Placement tests are scheduled for Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Japanese, and Korean at both basic and advanced levels. For testing in other languages, consult the contact for that language listed below.

Sign-up is not necessary for these tests, but please bring a #2 pencil. You will also need to know your Cornell ID #.

January 23rd, 9-11:30am and
January 24th, 5-7:30pm

Hindi All Please contact Sujata Singh (ss596) to schedule a test             
Japanese* All On-Line:                                             
(Please take no later than Jan. 21)                      

For Placement 

For Exemption


RCK 110


All RCK 102
RCK 103
RCK 104
RCK 105

*All students with any knowledge of Japanese are required to take a placement test to determine the right course for them. The placement test can be taken anywhere, anytime of the year online. Students can take the test once per semester only.

**All students with any knowledge of Korean are required to take a placement test to determine the right course for them. The placement test can be taken anywhere, anytime of the year online. Students can take the test once per semester only. Results from this test cannot be used to pass any college language requirement or to be exempted from that requirement. For exemption in Korean, you must take the Korean exemption test.


Language Contacts

Bengali: Sreemati Mukherjee 303 Rockefeller 5-0718
Burmese: Yu Yu Khaing 302 Rockefeller     5-1340
Chinese-Mandarin: Stephanie Divo 387 Rockefeller     5-2813
Hindi-Urdu: Sujata Singh 309 Rockefeller      5-4358
Indonesian: Jolanda Pandin 306 Rockefeller     5-0685
Japanese: Misako Chapman 375 Rockefeller     5-0289
Khmer: Hannah Phan 301 Rockefeller 5-0642
Korean: Meejeong Song 388A Rockefeller     5-8498
Nepali: Shambhu Oja 339 Rockefeller   5-8447
Pali: Anne Blackburn 346 Rockefeller     4-6501
Sanskrit: Larry McCrea 347 Rockefeller     4-6738
Sinhala: Bandara Herath 336 Rockefeller     5-8409
Tagalog: M. Theresa Savella 330 Rockefeller     5-7524
Thai: Ngampit Jagacinski 304 Rockefeller     5-3099
Vietnamese: Thuy Tranviet 335 Rockefeller     4-6715