March 23, 2007

Spinelli, Barbara Silver_nugget
[V1121] Intensive Elementary Italian I and [V1121] Intensive Elementary Italian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Reading through these other reviews, I feel that I am living in an alternate universe. I am very happy that others had a good experience with Barbara SpinelliÂ’s class, but I simply canÂ’t echo the sentiment. Her teaching style (as well as her personality) is very concrete. I found her classroom exercises mind-numbingly repetitive--sometimes she literally transcribed the textbook onto the blackboard--but I suppose repetition does help. I was just hoping for repetition and expansion.

That said, it was obvious from day one that teaching this class was the least of her concerns. I say this because I had a problem finding her during office hours and she did not respond to e-mails I sent to clarify assignments. I found her to be the least accessible instructor I have had at Columbia. We had barely any homework for a six-credit course, and most people simply copied the answer keys into the workbook to get an A. The occasional short compositions were rarely handed back before the next one was due, and that was usually a full month later. Again, obviously grading our extremely minimal homework seemed to be the least of her concerns.

If I were a person who wanted to speed up the language requirement, get six credits of pathetically easy A, and not learn much more than the book already told me, I would have loved this class. However, I have a genuine interest in learning this language and understanding the diverse and fascinating culture that lies behind it, and I donÂ’t feel attending this class helped me towards that goal any more than reading the textbook on my own would have.


Selections from the workbook (which most people copied straight from the answer key) and a few paragraph-long compositions