Intensive Elementary Italian I

Dec 2008

This was a great class. Gozzi is entertaining and hilarious and always keeps the class interested. I feel that I have truly learned a lot of Italian, and although there is a TON of material to go through, I never felt too rushed. I would definitely recommend this course, even though it is a big time commitment. Gozzi creates a nice class atmosphere and everyone gets to know each other, which is nice. Intensive elementary is well worth the workload, and is a good investment of your time.

Mar 2007

Reading through these other reviews, I feel that I am living in an alternate universe. I am very happy that others had a good experience with Barbara SpinelliÂ’s class, but I simply canÂ’t echo the sentiment. Her teaching style (as well as her personality) is very concrete. I found her classroom exercises mind-numbingly repetitive--sometimes she literally transcribed the textbook onto the blackboard--but I suppose repetition does help. I was just hoping for repetition and expansion. That said, it was obvious from day one that teaching this class was the least of her concerns. I say this because I had a problem finding her during office hours and she did not respond to e-mails I sent to clarify assignments. I found her to be the least accessible instructor I have had at Columbia. We had barely any homework for a six-credit course, and most people simply copied the answer keys into the workbook to get an A. The occasional short compositions were rarely handed back before the next one was due, and that was usually a full month later. Again, obviously grading our extremely minimal homework seemed to be the least of her concerns. If I were a person who wanted to speed up the language requirement, get six credits of pathetically easy A, and not learn much more than the book already told me, I would have loved this class. However, I have a genuine interest in learning this language and understanding the diverse and fascinating culture that lies behind it, and I donÂ’t feel attending this class helped me towards that goal any more than reading the textbook on my own would have.

Dec 2006

Barbara is an amazing professor. She is funny, helpful, and genuinely interested in her students. This was the first time I had ever taken an Italian class and I learned so much. She is a very generous grader and makes the material fun and enjoyable to learn. I couldn't ask for more in a foreign language professor.

Dec 2005

Professoressa Spinelli was without a doubt the best teacher I have had at Columbia. She was entertaining, dedicated, and absolutely the most helpful person I ever met. I am amazed at how much Italian I learned in one semester with her. I assure you that if you're debating over whether to take the intensive class or the regular ones and are discouraged by the amount of presumed work in the intensive class, you should not let it worry you - Prof. Spinelli will pull you through it. She is a gold-star caliber teacher if I ever met one. There is not enough I could say about her style and her true caring for all of her students.

Sep 2003

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.

Jul 2003

I adore Professoressa Gozzi! I would highly recommend both her and this class to anyone interested in taking Italian. She moves quickly through the material but never leaves you feeling rushed or left behind. By the end of one semester of Italian, I was astonished at how much IÂ’d learned. Bottom line: Gozzi is amazing. IÂ’m even contemplating taking her rapid reading and translation class (which, honestly, IÂ’ve no use for) just so that I can be in her class again.

Nov 2002

I must say that I have learned a significant amount of Italian in this class, but it was more in spite of Paola than because of her. She is overcaffienated, literally bouncing off the walls. Her eurotrashy manner is disarming, and even funny, but once you get over lauging at her expressions, her utter lack of English becomes frustruating. I swear, the woman speaks no English, and when she tries, it makes no sense. She can be nitpicky and painfully vague at the same time when it comes to specific test questions. However, Paola is not all bad. She is basically a good hearted person trying to adapt to her role in the classroom. Oh yes, and if you sign up for this class, be prepared to encounter the most obnoxious brown-nosing students ever. I have been at Columbia for three years and never experienced a phenomenon such as this. Aggressive freshmen laugh at every witty remark she makes, sucking up at each and every opportunity. Be additionally wary of the loser graduate students who have decided to pick up Italian late in their academic careers...they desperately vy for the honored title of "animale di casa della professoressa" - teacher's pet. Probably in a few years, Paola Nastri will adapt to teaching here...she just hasn't learned the system

Aug 2002

Mario Bellati is a sweet guy and a fairly easy grader. If you're a guy, and maybe even a little attractive, be warned that he's really touchy-feely.........He's a neat guy. I also took him for Italian Conversation II.