September 03, 2003

Nastri, Paola 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.

Paola might possibly be the best teacher I've ever had in my life. I didn't understand a word of Italian before this class, so I was a bit nervous on the first day when she started speaking Italian without preamble. "I don't speak English very well," she announced later on, carefully weighing her words-- the only English we heard that first class. Don't let that fool you, though. Paola knows a good deal more English than she lets on. However, indulging students in their native tongue is not the way to teach a foreign language. What all the students in my class knew, besides what "buon giorno" means (I'm assuming everyone knew what that means; I don't know for sure), is that Paola really did love them. I can't remember a class that didn't begin with her asking us how we were feeling. She was the mamma and we were her famiglia, she loved to say (*tear*). She was constantly trying to organize a party outside of class where we could be at ease while speaking to each other in Italian. Sadly, due I suppose to lack of interest, the only festa we had was a 15 minute wine-and-cheese-get-together followed by an hour of class. Did Paola give busy work? Of course there was homework. Again, how else are you supposed to learn a foreign language? She wasn't unbending, though. We complained that the workbook was too much, so she didn't make us do it anymore. Nor was she a stickler for grades: people did poorly on tests, so she compensated with a gigantic curve. Paola, it almost goes without saying, really loves the language and wants people to learn it. We learned from opera on videotape, poetry, stories, role playing (very funny), oral presentations, written reports,etc., though some things were more helpful than others. As a student desperately struggled to spit out a phrase in broken Italian, Paola could be seen mouthing along. She would entertain even the stupidest question (yeah, there is such thing), lest anyone fall behind. Still, we worked at a fast pace, covering in two semesters what most language classes cover in three or four. It's unbelievable the amount of Italian that everyone, and I truly believe EVERYONE, learned in the span of a year.
If you want to learn Italian and you're not convinced yet, then stop reading. Paola will do better without you. If you think she may be the teacher for you, make sure you're willing to do the work and all that. Class participation is good too. If you try, she'll love you. If you don't, she'll probably still love you. She's a very loving person.

Workload:

Since I don't believe 1301-02 is being offered anymore, whatever I write here will probably be worthless. I'll do it anyway. Homework-- pretty constant. Bet on at least an hour or two worth per class.
Quizzes-- once a week or so. You get to drop the lowest one.
Tests-- probably one midterm and a final. Cumulative (as every language exam must be).
Paola wants you to succeed (translation: you'll be satisfied with your grade).