April 12, 2007

Martin, Thomas
[FREN W1101] Elementary French I

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

Let me start off by saying that I was so excited to start learning French at the beginning of the semester. I am a language person, so I figured it would just be a fun class for me to take (I have already fulfilled my language requirement and decided to take French because I love languages). I was so wrong!!! Thomas is a nice guy with good intentions, but he is a horrible professor!!! He selectively chooses what he wants to teach, and leaves it up to the class to read the textbook and learn everything else on our own. Sometimes when I asked him to go over something, he simply told me to "look it up in the book".
When handing back compositions, he simply circled mistakes but did not put the corrections (even if the mistake was on material we had not yet learned) and expected us to know what was wrong. This is impossible at the Elementary 1 level! He also placed very little emphasis on pronunciation, and did not often correct our pronounciation mistakes in class or teach us how to say many of the vocab words in the book. He is often prone to going off on tangents with students who ask too many questions for their own good, even if the material is not relevant to our class or will be learned at higher levels.
This is frustrating to those of us who just want to learn what we are supposed to learn at this level. Also, beware if you're a total French beginner. Most of my class had had some exposure to French previous to the class, putting myself and a few others at a disadvantage, and Thomas did not recognize this nor account for it. Overall, the class was very frustrating and time consuming and I do not feel that I learned much French. In comparison with my previous language experiences at Columbia, the class is a joke! I may as well just have bought the textbook and taught myself.

Workload:

Medium. 5 compositions, aren't too bad but are handed back with no corrections, just circled mistakes, and expected to be corrected. The tests are doable, but strangely formatted (this is the department's doing) and often confusing. Oral interview for a midterm (be prepared for a completely biased and random grade) and a final. There are supposed to be weekly quizzes but we only had 3 in the beginning of the semester. Workbook is assigned, yet he only pretends to check it.