Jun 2010

I agree with the other reviews about de Aguilar. She is both tough and a great professor. I learned much more from her in a month or so than I did from my first semester "easy" professor. Professor de Aguilar is not for the faint hearted, however. She made a girl in my class cry during her oral presentation. Her grammar worksheets really help you understand the material, and make the departmental midterms easy. Also, go to Aguilar's office hours.

May 2007

Take Spanish with Valerie if it's at all possible. As somebody who learned Spanish, as opposed to being a native speaker, she really understands how to teach the language so it makes sense. She's understanding about the occasional screwup with homework assignments and attendance as long as you show her that you actually are making a sincere effort, and she always made sure that we understood the material instead of rushing us on.

Dec 2006

I think Ruiz-Fajardo is a terrible teacher. She is usually the last one to class, her due dates are ambiguous, and her grading is extreme. She is the most subjective teacher I have come across, to the point where comparable work receives largely different grades. My advice: avoid her.

Nov 2006

He's amazing. There's no other way to put it. I thought I knew a lot of French when i took his class and I still managed to learn alot. Our discussions were really interesting. He has very interesting points. He is the nicest guy and can be very funny. The best part (and what you probably want to know the most) is that he is a really good grader. He is very fair (maybe even too fair sometimes). If you are someone who struggles with French I think his class is really good because as a native English speaker, he knows what it's like to learn French from our point of view. He really wants to see you succeed in the language and therefore encourages you and motivates you in class. J'aime Geoffrey!

Nov 2006

I very much agree with the reviewer who said that this instructor picks favorites. If he doesn't like you, he will go out of your way to pick at you and generally make you miserable whenever possible. I originally decided to take his section of the course because he appeared very nice for the first few weeks of classes and because he didn't seem to be as gung ho as some of the instructors who are native speakers, which was a relief for me since I don't plan to move to Paris and was just trying to fulfill my language requirement one way or the other. However, it became clear as the semester went on that appearances had been deceiving. Despite his calm demeanor when he's in front of the class, he can be fairly nasty when you speak to him privately. (Indeed, there were two separate occasions on which I was driven to the brink of tears talking to him. For his part, he didn't really seem to give a damn. It got to the point where I was embarrassed to even have to set foot in his classroom and completely uncomfortable around him.) He doesn't seem to be very sympathetic to students' problems, either, so if you have some sort of extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from turning in an assignment on time or that are interfering with your performance in the course, don't even bother trying to explain them to him. The best thing was he called me into his office hours right before I was scheduled to give an oral presentation in order to criticize me repeatedly, which I think was unethical because it really threw me off balance for the presentation, one that I think I would have done fairly well on otherwise. What's most unbelievable is that he's a teaching fellow, ostensibly hired for his great didactic ability. Avoid like the plague, unless of course you happen to be one of the students he likes, in which case you'll probably be okay. If you don't make that good impression in the first week of class, though, forget it.

Aug 2006

Mario is a great professor. He gives entertaining lectures, takes time to explain each lesson in detail, returns work on time, and is a generous grader.

Jun 2006

I'm going to agree with everything the other student said and add a few points. First, Kevin is the most defensive instructor I've had at Columbia. He's astonishingly tense in class. Whatever his intentions were, this seemed consistently to prevent him from teaching the material effectively. Second, his lessons on grammar, usage, etc. were rarely structured well and never systematic. Whenever students did not understand a grammar point after the first, often haphazard, explanation, Kevin would usually just respond with something like "well, you're making it more complicated than it really is", then start talking about something else. In fact, he did not try to teach us much grammar at all and seemed a little confused over some of the more complicated points himself. Instead, most classes consisted of him talking half in English, half in French about nothing in particular, with maybe some pointless group activity thrown in. My French only improved this semester because I memorized the weekly vocabulary lists and did the assigned readings on my own several times. I think I learned as much from the two women who filled in for him for one week as I did from him during the whole semester. Really. Also, he's American not French, and though he speaks fluent French--which, I suppose, is better than not--his accent is more than a little off, which means you won't have practice conversing with a native speaker. But all this would have been tolerable if Kevin had not been an unfair grader. He graded our compositions much more harshly than other language instructors. To give you an idea, the median for the essays, quizzes, and midterm usually seemed to be around a C+/B-, though most students ended up with a final grade that was slightly higher. Again, holding us to a high standard would have been fine if he had taught well and held similarly stringent criteria for himself, but like I said above, he didn't seem to. As a result, many students were unprepared for the departmental exams, which sometimes tested paradigms and distinctions in usage that had never been introduced at all. The quizzes frequently covered topics that we had touched on for the first time that same class--i.e.only 15 or 20 minutes earlier. He also clearly preferred some students to others, but I have no data on whether this affected anyone's grade. The only positive thing I can say about this teacher is that he gave us an opportunity for extra credit at the end of the semester. In the final analysis Kevin is just too defensive a personality to be teaching or grading anyone. Luckily, the two textbooks we used, "La grammaire a l'oeuvre" and "Panache litteraire", are quite good, and the department has already made vocabulary lists for you; so if you're ambitious and have spare time you can learn a lot on your own regardless of your teacher.

May 2006

I find Kevin to be a complicated instructor. He is not picky about students speaking french in the classroom setting. In fact, I don't even think he is French. But that is not the point, I think he is an unfair grader. His quizzes and tests are graded very randomly and unfairly. The book and lectures he gives are also convoluted. Personally, I worked very hard in this class, and the results were not pleasing at all. I do not recommend him.

Mar 2006

blaer is a nice man and a good teacher but he lets some students run wild, asking stupid questions. his review sessions are key, but again they would only be 2 hours if he would just tell the postbaccs to shut up and ask what constant acceleration is during office hours. his tests are trickier than you might expect, given the problems he does in class, but not impossible by any means. just study the class notes and look over the homeworks and you will be fine. if you took high school physics there is no need to come to class, just go to the review session and hand in the homeworks. if you took ap physics (i did) do yourself a favor and just take 1400. theres a great curve and the material is at least more challenging. i feel ashamed that i dont know how to use anyt calc in physics.

Oct 2005

There are people who have a certain spark, a joie de vivre, something magical. If you can find this in a professor then you are a lucky person. Someone who is happy to be alive, to share time with their students in a way that brings a powerful presence to the classroom. Priya is priceless. Her ability to pace the class, taking into consideration all students, shows how much she cares not to lose any students along the way. (which is something that can happen with French grammar for sure). Her kindness and congeniality are foremost among her attributes. Her grading is more than fair. Her accent is Sorbonne approved despite the non-nativity. You won't find stuffy here, but rather someone who is able to be upbeat or serene depending on the mood of the text or the weather. Even if you are not sure who to take, make sure you shop this one before you take someone else. Bon chance.

Dec 2004

Eventhough he's already gotten some 20 or so rave reviews on CULPA, I had to share my love for this man!! As a pre-med, I had a pretty dreary course load first semester of sophomore year, and I thank my lucky stars that I had at least this class to grant me a much need break. Without fail, going to French would cheer me up and put me in a good mood for the rest of the day because Vincent is hilarious, incredibly kind, and amazingly intelligent. The thought of not having French with Aurora next semester makes me want to cry. If you're lucky enough to get in his class, be thankful, be very thankful. And, a side note, some of these reviews mentioned Vincent's inappropriateness. Um, I have no idea what they're talking about. He's zany and off the wall and makes a huge mess with his chalk, but he's an incredible teacher. He loves what he does and he makes that clear everytime you walk into his classroom.

Jan 2004

Prof. Morillo has great energy and dedication. She seems to adore teaching and is innovative and creative in her assignments. She truly wants her students to learn and will do all in her power to see that her students' success comes to fruition. She is approachable, considerate and kind. Truly a 'class' act.

Nov 2003

He is a good teacher, I'll agree with that, but he acted like a crazy kid and he was definitely offensive. He explains things well and is an easy grader, but there's no way I would recommend him. I've got a sense of humor and can take a good joke, but Vincent goes way overboard with his rude remarks and boorishness. He can make you feel really small. It made me not want to go to class, to be honest.

Nov 2003

If you are fluent in Spanish and don't mind an arrogant, egotistical man who has no tolerance for people who aren't, by all means, take Miranda's class. It will be a good lesson in self-induced misery. Some professors are here to teach and some are here strictly for a paycheck...this guy definitely belongs to the latter group. He doesn't show up for office hours and will hold a lenghy conversation with a single person (whose Spanish speaking proficiency should prohibit them from being in the class to begin with) while the rest of the class idly sits by. Masochists will surely adore him.

Jun 2003

I beg to differ with the previous response. Although Silvia is very nice and very knowledgeable, I found her teaching style less than adequate. We were often assigned chapters to learn on our own and then received little instruction in class other than lots of book exercises , making hte class dismally boring. I often felt I was teaching myself Italian. I would not recommend this teacher.

Dec 2002

its about the easiest A i've had at columbia but an easy grader does not equal a good professor. class topics can at times be distasteful and in all honesty, I didn't learn a whole lot.

Nov 2002

While she seemed like a genuinely kind young woman, Delphine was utterly unable to teach. She regularly arrives to class late - usually between 5 - 20 minutes - claiming that she took the wrong train. Her comprehension of English is questionable, thus she was unable to help those students with serious problems with their French. While she would make students repeat words until they pronounced them correctly, there was virtually no discussion in class because she never presented questions. Her instruction of the grammar was nothing more than copying the text onto the board. In all honesty, I feel like I've lost a lot of my ability in French this semester. (I'm a first year and I took French from an amazing teacher in high school.)

May 2002

Brian was awesome, and he rejuvinated my interest in french. I was doing it just for the requirement, and now I think I'm going to continue with it. He's incredibly nice, and very funny, I looked forward to class (even though it was Tues, Thurs, Fri from 6:10-7:25). I don't know if he is teaching next semester (he just got his doctorate), but if he is, take his class!

May 2002

With regards to the previous review of Vincent Aurora. As an ex-student of his, just let me say that if you'd like to take his section, please go in *prepared* to laugh good-naturedly at others and at yourself. Don't sit there and roll your eyes in self-righteous offence. There isn't anything malicious about the man at all. Vincent has such a great sense of humour; the very least he deserves is a student who possesses one too.