Composition and Conversation

Dec 2016

Karen is an amazing professor! She is very thorough, extremely knowledgable, and wants to help you improve your French. This class was reading-heavy and, as the name suggests, analysis heavy. We spent a significant amount of time learning/going over analysis techniques.Since this was the first year the course was offered, it will probably change a little, but the course was broken into units based on type of literature (poetry, prose, theatre). I would strongly suggest this class to anyone looking to work on their literature analysis or improve their French writing and reading. It's a great intermediate class if you want to get your French skills polished a bit before jumping into more intense literature/film classes. I would also strongly recommend this class just for the professor -- Karen is really kind and funny.

Oct 2014

I do not know why there are not many reviews on Karen already. TAKE HER. Any class you can take with her-- I GUARANTEE that you will learn so much French. Her accent is extremely clear, the assignments are manageable, and even the literature she selects (for more advance French) is incredibly interesting. Aside from that, she cares. She really wants you to learn, and again, I guarantee you will.

Dec 2009

For me, this class provided an enjoyable setting for sustaining my knowledge and appreciation of French. Although the workload is fairly light, I feel that I still learned a lot, and I was able to frequently practice my French conversation skills in class. Brian O’Keeffe makes the class. He packs a lot of interesting material into a short time, and his memorable anecdotes and observations about French culture enforced what I had learned and made it very hard to forget the new vocabulary. The few longer writing assignments had such interesting prompts that it was nearly fun to write them. Overall, the class is a laid-back yet still engaging way to develop French skills.

Nov 2009

This was one of the best French classes I've taken. There is no hard and fast curriculum, so it really revolves around themes and discussions; we talked about different styles of writing, and certain French attitudes toward cultural trends. Each class opened with a discussion of what we did over the weekend, which made us apply our language skills to real life situations. The courseload was light,there were two in depth papers, a few journal assignments, and some short vocabulary quizzes. We also watched a few films outside of class, which provided basis for in class discussion. I still felt like I learned a lot, and Professor O'Keeffe's sense of humor kept us all interested.

Feb 2009

I took this class Spring 2007 so it has been a while but I still remember it clearly, mainly because I DID NOT LIKE Caroline Weber!!! She was pleasant enough in class to most everyone but would cut me off when I spoke. I am not the best at french but had placed out of the requirement and I told her this at the beginning, but she strongly encouraged me to take the class anyway, yet throughout the class, she would take me aside to belittle me and my french abiilities, despite the fact that I was getting A's in all of my compositions (which admittedly weren't that hard). It was mentioned before that not doing compositions (which never occurred in my case) and turning them in late (which happened twice with reasons provided) would simply cause her disappointment. This is untrue, she's a grudge bearer and just when you think she's getting over it she'll come back and bite you in the ass with a spiteful unprompted email. I found her ridiculously unreasonable, but still wouldn't have written this review if 2 of my friends that have taken the course since hadn't confided similar experiences with her to me. I ended up withdrawing from the class with special permission (it was past the withdrawal deadline) because I hated her so much. If you're interested in this class take it with someone else!! If you absolutely have to take her class here's a tip: she's partial to people who compliment her sense of style.

Dec 2007

I must say my French did not improve in this class at all. Madame J-F spoke English much more than she should have at this level. Her grading standards were also not clearly defined. If you don't have a good French accent, she will take that into heavy consideration with grading. She seems sweet, but overall, the class was not well done. The course definitely had a lot of potential, just not with this teacher. Take this class with Phillip Usher if you can - he is amazing!

Dec 2007

Professor Usher is absolutely incredible. I took this class as a way to brush up on my French, which was already rusty after taking one semester off. This course was a great way to practice my French speaking in a safe atmosphere where I was never embarrassed to conjugate incorrectly or stammer on vocabulary. The class was easily my most consistently enjoyable class of the entire semester--I left on a regular basis with a huge smile on my face. Whether he asks you to write poetry, analyze videos, discuss current events or cultural differences, his classes are consistently well planned and engaging. I highly recommend this class to anyone looking for a not hard French class to polish old skills. But if you're looking for an intense, crash review course designed to finally get you to fluency, look elsewhere, or at least to a different professor. Usher is a very sweet man, but is potentially too lenient to really kick your French up to perfect proficiency.

Jun 2007

Phillip Usher is the best French prof IÂ’ve ever had at Barnard/Columbia. He is extremely good-hearted, extremely accommodating and friendly, and does his best to stimulate discussion in a class without any real topic. The focus on this class is definitely not too heavy on writing, so donÂ’t worry about the workload because it is not very hard. He seems timid at first but by the end we were all great friends and had little cheese parties for our presentations. The class is good if you just want some opportunities to speak, though I didnÂ’t learn very many phrases or much colloquial French. I was taking French in preparation to go abroad, and now that IÂ’ve been I think this type of course was better preparation that the subject courses I took since you are forced to speak. If youÂ’re taking this course (or any other level he teaches), take it with Usher!

Mar 2007

Weber was definitely distracted when I took this class (1st semester), seeing that she just published a book on Marie Antoinette and has gotten a lot of publicity for it throughout the city. She was a pretty nice teacher and the class was a LOT of fun but I only worsened in my language skills. Too many of the other students lacked advanced french skills so we ended up speaking a mix of franglais and english. Take this class for fun but don't expect to improve on your french in any way.

Dec 2006

Weber is awesome! No doubt about it. She knows her French, definitely knows how to have fun with the class, and as long as you like speaking French, and are trying to expand your vocab you will have fun with the class. She really is such a nice woman, and you'll have fun waiting to see what outfit she'll wear to class that day. I wish I could take this class every semester with her, even if I didn't get credit, it was the most fun, relaxing class of my entire courseload! I HIGHLY recommend this class, especially if you are coming right out of intermediate french, or haven't spoken in a while, she'll get you back on track and make you want to take another class after the semester is over!

Dec 2006

I really loved this class! I highly recommend it... Phillip is a great professor and a great guy, and I always looked forward to classes - which kept me entertained. If you enjoy French and want to improve your speaking skills, take this class. The paper topics are original and therefore more interesting to do.

Dec 2006

This class is so much fun! Phillip Usher is funny and the class is such a pleasure to attend, however you don't learn much. Usher is very relaxed concerning grading and handing in papers and very nice to everyone. Despite the amount i enjoyed this class, i felt that my french actually worsened throughout the semester. I took this class as a first semester first-year, and felt that the class was no where near as informative or rigorous as my AP french class in high school. However, I would not advise against taking it. It's an easy A, and pretty entertaining

Nov 2006

Great Prof. Cute, funny, and somehow seems to me to manage to make everything sexual. Great fun all around and genuinely cares about his students. He's always willing to read drafts of compositions and to answer any and all questions. I've learned more french in one semester with him then I have in all my semesters at Columbia. He renewed my interest in the French Language. Highly Highly recommend!

Nov 2006

Phillip is a great guy. He is really enthusiastic about the French language and wants you to do well. He balances discussing grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation and tries to incorporate discussions of each of these as necessary. He is relaxed about the structure of the class without letting it slip, so he is keeping people on task without making it seem like he is bound to the syllabus. Phillip is really into writing and poetry and I liked that he was willing to accept very experimental and freeform compositions sometimes (as long as they were appropriate for the assignment). I felt like I could actually try new styles of writing in French instead of trying to fit some guidelines for the good grade that my teacher had preset. I feel like he is a really reasonable teacher who understands that you're busy students, as long as you do apply yourself in class. The class itself is pretty much what the name of it says - a combination of speaking on various topics and writing compositions. Some of the readings are recycled from other French classes, but you don't spend too much time on any one author or piece so it's not a problem. You also get to learn some vocabulary that is useful in everyday conversations. I feel a lot less self-conscious speaking in French in class and more confident in my French skills on the whole.

May 2006

She is so sweet and genuinely loves teaching. She was always enthusiastic and engaging, and I found that my French did improve, although you have to put in effort and not expect it to just magically happen. A really positive experience both with her and with the other students.

May 2005

Prof. Azagury is pretty nice, an ok teacher, not amazing or anything, just ok. The class is basically as good as the people in it, since most of it is made up of class or group discussions. Somewhat interesting, very easy... good if you want an easy A.

Dec 2004

She is beautiful, talented and extremely knowledgeable. I loved the class. The only other review on this comp class, from last year, is still accurate. I took it Fall 2004 and there are still 5 short essays, pretty vast in their topics, and relating to random things, i.e. make a French resume, write about two photos, write about an important emotion you felt, etc etc...must discuss and speak in class to get a good grade. I got an A- and i deserved less b/c i wasn't in class at the beginning, but she understood my predicaments and was so kind that it scared me. I love this woman and the class was easy, enjoyable and a good way to keep your oral french skills going. Not difficult, a break from the heavy loaded french lit classes you have to take for majors. I recommend the class highly.

Jan 2004

As everyone knows, the language classes at Barnard are harder and better than those at Columbia with maybe some exceptions. Anyway, this course was definitely challenging, since it forces you to do lots of annoying stuff in French, the grading of which has no clear basis (ex. we had to write a resume in French, and were graded on the format and presentation of what we did instead of how the French was; we had to make ads in French and were graded by how the thing looked more than if it was correct). If you have great French, you'll get B's and B+'s unless you pair that with an eye for detail (aesthetic and grammatical) and some sort of flash/ hook for your subject (ex. make your final presentation fun, and she'll forget all about your French). She doesn't want this class to be boring, though you can space out through a lot of it. She knows her stuff, and speaks French as a native (finally!). She also seems a little too put together, but she really just wants to feel like a part of a group instead of a teacher. The fact that there was no midterm or final (not even oral interviews) was great because by the end of the semester we were just having fun. You'll spend most of the classes just talking about something she handed out. Take the course to keep your French from slipping and use this unique, small, conversational centerpiece to develop your speaking skills. You won't get amazing, but you'll get better.

Sep 2003

Prof. Jouanneau-Fertig is very sweet, and she keeps the class size small and very relaxed. You have to do a couple of very brief (2 mins.) oral presentations and a couple of short essays (1-2 pgs. each). There is also a final project -- a 30 min. oral presentation with a partner (she gives you a whole class for it, but she encourages the other students to ask questions, which takes up time since she ususally ends up answering and commenting on all of them). This class is an easy A, but don't expect to vastly improve your oral or written skills.