January 21, 2004

Curren, Erin Silver_nugget
[FREN W1101] Elementary French I

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

Erin likes to teach, and she wants you to enjoy the class as much as possible. This, I think, best summarizes my impression of her from the semester, and I think that's very important to making the class bearable. The problem is that learning a language can be confusing, overwhelming, and flat out difficult. Erin cares about the details, like spelling and pronunciation, that can make the class a bit more tedious in the shortterm, but it seems to me that an insistence on caring about those things is important for actually learning the language (and preparing you for more advanced classes, assuming you're taking it for the language requirement, like I am). For example, if a student reading a response to an exercise omits an elision or liason or mispronounces a vowel, she will prod the student until he or she pronounces the word correctly. Her grading is similarly demanding.

The only thing is that since it is her enthusiasm and energy that keeps the class going, if she runs out of steam for whatever reason (in particular, I can't imagine it is easy to keep up that kind of pace in front of a tired, impatient group of students for 1 hour 15 minutes on a friday afternoon) the class starts to seriously drag. This only happened a few times throughout the semester, and less towards the end when we started to understand what she was saying more and so were more involved.

She is serious about running the class in french except for grammatical concepts, housework type thing, and when students are completely, totally, and irreparably confused. She doesn't require students to try to ask question in french (at this level that would have been pretty much impossible).

Workload:

Significant, following the department's syllabus. Workbook exercises for every class that are gone over in class though she only verified about the first half of them, 5 compositions that start at 1/2 page and move up to 1 page in length, 4 tests that the class average for which was never below a B+, midterm interview that is more stressful that stricly grades, and a final that was a lot like the tests, just longer.