Barbara Spinelli is the best damn professor at Columbia. She's the kind of person who is genuinely interested in what you want to do with your life, what your favorite movie is and why, what your family's like, and your personal story of how you came to Columbia. You feel less like a student and more like a person who gets to practice speaking Italian with your older, much smarter friend. You don't even have to go to office hours to develop a close relationship with her because her class is extremely conversational and interactive.

Despite being so friendly, she is extremely well-qualified as an educator and directs the entire Italian language program. Our class runs on schedule and covers a ton of material each week. You will have to pay attention and study vocab that you don't know.

If you accidentally skip an assignment, she will let you turn it in late for full credit, probably because she actually wants you to do well in the class. Her grading is very fair and she will gently call you out in class for missing something simple that you should already know.

At the beginning of the semester, I knew zero Italian, but by the end, I felt like I could talk fluently in six different verb tenses about literally any topic without stuttering or freezing up.

Honestly, attending her class is the best part of my day. It's never boring and mainly consists of answering questions out loud and giving your real opinion on different situations. We listen to songs and watch funny movie clips in order to learn stuff. You can tell that she puts a lot of effort into making the class interesting, and she's always well-prepared. I'm really going to miss her next semester because she doesn't teach the next level up. I highly recommend taking any class with her because she's so awesome!!


Each week you have around 20 workbook pages plus one 150-word essay, and there's a quiz every Friday. Attendance is mandatory and the class size is small (mine was 9 people). Make sure you have a large folder because you will have a million handouts by the end of the semester.