Third-Year Grammar and Composition I

Nov 2020

Professor Laurence Marie is a QUEEN. 10/10 would recommend her to anyone who is interested in building a strong foundation in French grammar, culture and/or literature. I am literally in awe of how incredible she is as a professor. All of her lectures are so engaging and she works really hard to facilitate class participation from everyone. Professor Marie has high expectations and can be demanding, but in a good way. She knows how to get the most out of her students and she encourages them to take intellectual risks. She is extremely understanding when it comes to completing assignments and is always offering to meet with students outside of class to support them in whatever way they may need. Also, she is a relatively generous grader and gives students the opportunity to revise their essays and exams to learn from their grammatical errors and improve their overall grade. I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to take two courses with someone who is so genuinely passionate about French literature and language. I definitely left her class(es) with a renewed appreciation for French and a much improved language skills.

Sep 2016

Professor Borer is one of the most kind and understanding professors I have met at Columbia. Our class was a 10:10 and naturally many students were late, tired, and more but she never raised her voice, or made a negative comment once. Although her calm nature does sometimes cause the class to become boring, her approachable manner, and smile make up for a great start of the day! The class is usually around 10 people, almost always has 2 people conversations that last for 20 mins where professor Borer walks around and listens. We watched movies in class, and read and watched theaters that add a French culture that I personally found very useful for my following semester in Paris. Professor Borer is very understanding of comments, suggestions and even criticism of French arts, which makes it very easy to talk in class, and you should talk! Although the participation looks like 'only' 25%, trust me, it is worth 99%. The class really moves through student participation and if you just stay in your corner thinking about when you'll make it to bed again, you will probably not get a good grade. The class is also for those who are more into the composition part of french. Though we technically had one class on grammar and one on composition each week, the readings (poems, essays, theaters by Moliere etc) and movies (Jules et Jim) are much more focused on. Homework is like any other language course, very regular, but you can miss doing one or two. She rarely collects them, she will tell you when she does. It will take time, depending on your french level, not more than any kind of elementary language course (2 hours per week or so) Pro tip: don't buy the books, we barely used them, they're not worth it!

Aug 2014

With Vincent. you are guaranteed at least 10 minutes of laughter in every class. He is by far one of the most insane, energetic, and entertaining people I have ever met. He bounces around the classroom, nibbles on chalk, throws things, and goes on tangents that are not always politically correct, making for a classroom experience that is never, ever boring. As for actually learning French, I found him to be a very effective instructor. While it's certainly important to learn French from native speakers at one point, it's also really helpful to have an instructor who was once in your shoes. Vincent really understands the challenges of learning French and is able to elucidate things that English speakers find to be particularly difficult. He's also crazily prompt about returning things quickly and with a lot of helpful feedback. If you have the option of taking a class with Vincent, do it. It will be the most enjoyable class you take that semester, if not ever.

Feb 2011

No doubt that Mr. Aurora is a charismatic man who knows how to inspire his students to learn French and to make them feel what seems like their French improved. I didn't feel I learned a whole lot. I felt that during that class Mr. Aurora taught us things, vocabulary especially, that are necessary for someone to write novels rather than to use in real life. Why on earth do people in their third year of French, who can't even speak it properly who still are in a dire need of mastering intermediate grammar models, need to know words like "se hérisser" - to bristle, or "avec fracas" - very loudly, with a lot of noise. Seems totally useless to me. As if Mr Aurora is more interested to teach what interests him, not what the students need. It seemed like he only wanted to show off and demonstrate what he knows to us rather than to make sure that we retained the information. I'm tired of all the raves on this site about him, because everyone loves to be entertained, but if they looked at what they learned in class, I don't think there would be much. He can also be pretty cruel in his remarks, and he does says horrible things behind other professors' and students' backs and he boasts that he knows human psychology well and knows how to use it to manipulate people. It's like the guy has no conscience, and if you do get on the wrong side of him, he will make your life hell and will enjoy it. I got an A in his class and am writing this not because I'm bitter, but because of what I saw in class and it was quite disturbing. I don't like him at all and I wouldn't recommend this class or any class with this lecturer. The easy grading also seems to be a result of not wanting to get too involved in the whole teaching thing.

May 2010

Sophie is *the* French teacher for a few reasons: 1. Sophie is a native speaker. 2. Sophie is exceedingly kind and patient. 3. Sophie actually cares about her students' learning (go figure!) 4. Sophie keeps the class atmosphere light yet still formal. 5. Sophie isn't afraid to admit that she doesn't know something; she will promptly look it up and give you the answer you desire. 6. Sophie is open to suggestions. 7. Sophie encourages learning from mistakes. 8. Sophie isn't afraid to criticize her teaching style or curriculum. 9. Sophie made waking up for a 9:00 class worth it and enjoyable-- dare I say even fun?

Apr 2010

I have had several excellent professors at Columbia and Barnard but Severine has easily been the best. She is unbelievably enthusiastic and encouraging, not to mention incredibly intelligent. She pays attention to each of her students and has gone out of her way to make encouraging, personal comments to me about my participation in class because she knows that I get anxious about speaking in class in French. I've gotten much less nervous about this over the course of this semester and it is largely -- if not entirely -- due to her encouragement and to her skill as a teacher in general. I was motivated to do my best work because her classes were so excellent. She really seems to know everything about French literature and speaks about it passionately, and is also good at getting her students engaged and participating in the discussion. She is also extremely diligent about marking up papers with lots of comments, which I really appreciate. Overall I would highly recommend taking any class she is teaching -- regardless of the subject matter, I would be thrilled to take another class with her.

Nov 2009

Though Sarah Sasson is a nice enough person, she is extremely scatterbrained and just doesn't have her shit together at all. She was consistently 5-10 (sometimes 15) minutes late for class, was horribly disorganized and took ages to return our papers, which she kept in a huge disorganized pile somewhere at the bottom of her huge disorganized bag. The reading material for this class is extremely light and she's a really easy grader. She even lets you re-do all your essays if you get less than an A-. She's also really lenient with missing class and making up any sort of work, including essays and quizzes. You'll probably be mildly bored 90% of the time, but you won't want to kill yourself either. Take it if you need to fulfill a requirement and you want an easy A.

Aug 2009

I agree with the other comments, including the one about her american accent, but I'd add a few points. First, the class itself is about learning grammar/usage to improve your reading and writing. It can seem tedious when you're wading through the details, and there's basically no reason to take this class unless you want to speak French at a high level one day. After the semester ended though, I realized most of what we learned was actually pretty basic and my french had improved tremendously. As for Heidi, she's a virtuoso in the classroom, unfailingly poised and engaging. She's also cool and aloof, I don't remember a spontaneous emotion all semester. I was annoyed by the performative aspect of her teaching, but I guess that's just her style. As others have said, Heidi is great at explaining grammar rules and gives some of the most detailed corrections to papers I've seen. She also posts loads of extra reading material and worksheets online, in case you want extra practice. You read a lot of literature in this class and Heidi goes even deeper by encouraging close readings and giving time to large scale themes. This made the essays more bearable and helped class discussion along, but as the semester wore on I started to feel we were spending too much time and attention on unnecessary abstractions. I love French literature but I don't think anyone benefited from the tortuous interpretations she dragged us through in the last part of the course, which I suspect had more to do with her ego than with us learning anything. Grousing aside, Heidi is the best French instructor I've had outside of France. I didn't like her as a person and still thought she was a very good teacher, that says a lot.

May 2009

Here's the deal: this class is easy if you take it with Professor Sasson. Basically you go to class twice a week and speak in French about things sort of related to some syllabus. I liked it, but I could see where others in need of more structure would not. I didn't do any of the readings and I ended up fine. I really like Mme Sasson as a person, she's funny, caring, and nice. She lets you speak French which is what is supposed to happen in a French class, but sometimes she doesn't explain things well to people who don't understand basic French grammar rules. If you already have your French grammar down and are just trying to take French Lit classes (which the dept doesn't let you do unless you take this class first), take this class and it'll be a breeze.

Jan 2009

Anjali is the sweetest and most patient teacher ever! She genuinely wants all her students to succeed and answers all questions, even those you might think are stupid! She's willing to put in the extra time if you need more help, and doesn't "pick favorites" or anything like that. I found that she was a lenient grader, but I don't know about others in my class.

Jan 2009

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS UNLESS YOU: 1) Are completly 100% confident in your advanced French grammar. Olivia expects you to need little to no explanation. She will give you a handout and a very complicated book explaning small nuances between tenses and prepositions because she expects you to have every single concept already down. This is a mistake because this is the first college french course for a good amount of her students. She will only attempt to explain something if she realizes that nobody knows what is going on after you have tried to work your way through a 5 page long worksheet. There is so much confusion and class participation sucks because you will say something and there is a chance she will completly shut you down. You hardly ever recieve any encouragment, so you feel like crap about your French. 2) have TONS of time to spare. She gives a ridiculous amount of homework. So ridiculous in fact that she does not waste time in class giving it and instead sends you an email with 10 different things for you to do for the next class. If you go against this advice and take this class anyway, you will end up learning and improving in your writing. However this is not justified by the amount of misery associated with this class. Even though I finally managed to get a B+, I would not take this class again. The class goes by really slowly and the workload is awful. I have a friend that took this class with Koffi-Tessio, and she actually enjoyed it.

Mar 2007

Vincent Aurora is a brilliant, funny, odd, odd man. You will come to love watching him jolt all about the room, coffee in hand and chalk clutched like a cigarette, throwing words up on his chalkboard like a mad NFL coach. You will also love having your papers back with every error underlined and explained; this man does not miss a thing, and he will make sure that by the time you have completed his course, you will, well, you will miss things, but you will know why that is going to happen. Vincent does get a reputation as an easy grader, but facts are, he just makes you work your ass off for your inflation, and you will enjoy it. Furthermore, unlike the rest of the language instruction establishment, Vincent will let you go out on a limb and take risks with French, without punishing you for making the effort. If you study with him, make sure to experiment —you will get far more out of the course that way, as he will be willing to explain esoteric grammatical structures, jargon, and colloqualisms. If you love French as a language, per se, or any language for itself, you owe it to yourself at least to sit in on Vincent's classes.

Dec 2006

Jason Earle is a great teacher! He explains things really well, keeps class relatively interesting, and in general is a really nice and cool person. He is able to make some complicated grammar rules quite simple and he gives very helpful comments on papers. I would definitely recommend taking this class with him - it will really help your French skills.

Jun 2006

Yet another glowing review of Vincent. He's a bit odd, but he's been one of my favorite teachers at Columbia. He cuts his own hair and he writes on the walls with chalk without warning or explanation. He's funny, he teaches very well, and he gives great notes on writing assignments. I know I plan to take as many of his classes as I can.

Jan 2006

This course has the potential to be deadly because it involves a lot of annoying grammar rules and writing real essays in french. However, it turned out that we read real literature and my french writing definitly improved. Heidi is a wonderful teacher as well as incredibly nice, understanding, and energetic. She is one of those rare teachers who actually focuses on whether or not her students learn, rather than grades. She encourages in-depth discussions of the texts that involve the whole class and makes sure everyone really understands, even if it means changing the syllabus to spend more time on a particular topic. If you have the chance, definitly take a class with her.

Jan 2006

If you are really good at French take this class for an easy A. If you are not so good at french but don't mind going to office hours, take this class. She is extremely helpful and nice outside of class. I thought the class was prretty challenging due to the overwhelming number of students who were VERY good at french already. She definitely caters to the smartest people in the class while the less advanced (me) hang on for dear life. However, when it came down to it- your grade was about the tests and papers which were very fairly graded. I recieved a grade higher than I probably deserved.

Apr 2005

I am writing this to reiterate what was previously stated on CULPA about this professor- do NOT take this class. If you do, prepare to be confused, do NO substantial work, and be very stressed out about it. It was a relatively small class, usually three or four people were missing every time. She is ALWAYS late, often we'd sit there for ten minutes waiting for her to show up, and she'd run over time and get annoyed that the rest of us usally had class in some far off location that we always ended up having to run to . . . She was NEVER prepared for class and would be annoyed that we never were either - then we'd get annoyed at her because she was completely unclear as to what we should be prepared to do. We learned early on NOT to prepare for class because if we did it would just be a HUGE waste of time and we wouldn't end up discussing the material for at least a week. Her worksheets usually had mistakes on them that we would find and have to correct (this was not an exercise but her making mistakes and confusing us once again) and they were generally unhelpful and had poor explanations of rules.

Jan 2005

She's great and she gives you a grade higher than you deserve - A- = A etc. She doesn't pull any puerile antics in order to entertain students, and its so much better that way. No French lullabies - just straight up grammar.

Jan 2005

Raina Udhen is so sweet. She is really a good soul. Enthusiastic about the class and the language, she is generous with her time and her patience comes across as genuine and unforced. The course material and assignments, i believe, are set by the department; good literature, but the paper topics seemed at times, uninspiring. There is not a terrible amount of time spent reviewing grammar, rather papers are geared towards analysis of the literature. Good news: pretty good reads and wonderful teacher

Dec 2004

AVOID PROFESSOR SASSON LIKE THE PLAGUE. She is by far THE most disorganized, unprofessional, irresponsible instructor I've EVER had at Columbia. For starters, she was psychologically incapable of following the departmental syllabus. No one in the class ever had a clue as to what we were supposed to do for the upcoming class, let alone the upcoming weeks. Classes usually consisted of us painfully trying to discuss some reading that no one had done, or going through packets of grammar worksheets (which she always had us go collect from her box in Philosophy because she could never remember to make photocopies of anything.) Even when there was preparation to be done, it didn't mattter if you did it because discussions often digressed into her giving a soliloquy on some unrelated topic. She seemed to assign things at random, and often only when she realized she HAD to make us do something. Due dates were generally fuzzy, negotiable, and/or irrelevant. All in all, this class was the bain of my existence, and I think my french actually got WORSE thanks to her. Despite the lack of work, this class totally stressed me out because of her unclear expectations. It was a complete waste of my time.

Aug 2004

Vincent Aurora is definitely the best professor around--TAKE ANY CLASS HE'S TEACHING! Only Vincent can make an hour and a quarter of grammar fly by. Students laugh their way through his classes because he has the awesome ability to make just about anything both interesting and amusing. As many times as this has been said before, I must say it again: Vincent truly cares about his students. He wants kids to do well and have fun in the process. He is also very understanding when you need an extension on an assignment. I strongly recommend Vincent to ANYONE. Even on cold winter days when I was too sick to get out of bed, I made an exception and got up to go to his class...I would never do that for any other professor's class!

Apr 2004

Vincent Aurora is a phenom. It almost feels redundant to lay more praise on the man when every other reviewer has done it, but, I really feel I must. I would declare, without hesitation, that he is the best professor on campus. He adores his job, is always prepared (almost to the point of anal retention), is the most approachable and responsive professor I've ever had a class with, and had the entire class pissing themselves with laughter biweekly. He's not just hugely entertaining and enthusiastic, though. Vincent is clearly an expert in his field (and wants to inspire such scholarship in his students) AND nearly every class he would drop a new bomb of brilliance on the class (throwing in tidbits of his intimate knowledge of at least four languages other than french and english AND he would throw in a latin lesson every once in a while just for kicks). TAKE ANYTHING HE'S TEACHING.

Apr 2004

Vincent Aurora is one of the best professors in the French department. He is passionate about teaching and makes even a grammar and composition class amusing. You will never want to miss a class because he is so entertaining. He was also very organized and made an huge effort to make us all understand the subtleties of French grammar. If you want to perfect your French writing skills and also get to know one of the smartest and most interesting professors in the French department, then take this class. Take any class you can with Vincent--true teaching ability can be difficult to find at Columbia.

Jan 2004

Anjali is a great teacher, I should know, I've had so many courses with her! She is so available and excited to help her students succeed. Interesting assignments and fun in class activities tended to spice up the boring grammar stuff. French is hard and the language req can be a pain in the ass, but french with anjali can be rewarding and pretty painless. Come to class and do your work, that's all she asks.

Feb 2003

Really nice guy. Super laid-back. However, this course is pretty bad. Lots of ridiculous grammar rules that you will never remember or need to know. Ridiculous amounts of reading. But Hodges was really laid-back and you didn't have to do most of it. If you must take Grammar and Comp, Hodges is a nice guy, so you may as well take it with him.

Nov 2002

What a nice woman, what a nice smile, what a sweetheart. WHAT A WORKLOAD! She assigns compositions due the same day as a quiz, a movie reaction, and 3 chapters of reading. One cannot actually do all the assigned work (unless this is his/her only class) but to Prof. Adam's credit, I've never felt so competant in French. She uses literature, articles, and films in addition to the standard Grammar book to really get a person familiar with the standard usages of language and grammar. She is also always ready and willing to have a discussion with you about problem areas.

May 2002

Max is easily the best French teacher I've had at Columbia - he's funny, and really really smart (knows like german, spanish, latin, english, and french). He holds class in such a way that it's impossible not to have fun. I honestly looked forward to having class with him. He's really easy to understand, which was nice especially in the beginning of the semester. If you can take him for anything, do it! he also teachs in the german department. take a class with him! you won't regret it!