Composition and Conversation

Apr 2012

This class is fucking great. O'Keeffe is funny, engaging, cool to talk to, and hyper-intelligent. I never felt nervous about talking in class and just really enjoyed all the lessons. He's just so knowledgeable on everything. I thought this would be a shitty, boring conversation class that would just help me keep my French going for a semester, but it was interesting and relevant and taught me so much about French culture etc, and improved my writing moreover. You only have one essay due, and it's structured such that you have a paragraph due like once every 2 or 3 weeks, which he corrects and hands back to you: so eventually, by the time you actually hand in the final draft, you just compile the paragraphs and voila, your French is flawless. He also lets you send in as many drafts as you like, which means, again, you can get a really good grade pretty easily. He also gives you, at the beginning of the semester, a "cheat-sheet" that's just a list of things like "That said", "What flows from what has just been said", "Let us therefore consider" etc in really poetic French. You just plug these into your essay with filler words relevant to your actual topic, and you're done. But you learn a lot. You really do. It's the perfect balance between easy and actually helpful: my writing improved tenfold and he taught me how to actually use the subjunctive. Bravo, Brian. 10/10

Dec 2010

Professor O'Keeffe may be too intelligent for his own good. He not only has an incredibly impressive French vocabulary (something I definitely benefitted from), but also has a vast English vocabulary; I actually improved in both languages. The problem, however, is that i did not feel like I could participate much in class because the topics were over my head or he had so much more knowledge than me on the topic that I felt that my input would be useless. I've never felt this way in a class before and think that we should be encouraged to participate rather than intimidated. Like I said, he is almost too smart... but that is just my opinion. That said, I did like his class. The levels of proficiency were certainly varried, but he was able to manage it realtively well. I learned so much, but in the end, wish more of the class had been held in French. (I'd say classes tended to be 75% French, 25% English). There are some things, like how to write a French resusme, how to analyze a Monet painting,etc., that I will take with me and benefit from forever. Other things, like the specifics of French Feminism, will remain beyond me.

May 2006

Mind-numbingly boring course. Usher is a great guy, very friendly, approachable, and lax, but he was terribly unorganized! The course started off great and was very promising. The syllabus, co-created with Prof. Jouneau-Ferig, was filled with exercises and units that would supposedly encourage vocabulary development and in-class discussions. However, we barely ever followed the syllabus and our class discussions towards the middle and end of the semester seemed very forced and painful. You could tell that nobody wanted to be there, but because it was a language class, you couldn't skip. Moreover, whenever someone was speaking and would come across a vocabulary road block, s/he would ask him for the word, but he would say it so fast that the person ended up just mumbling through the word -- nobody ended up learning it. The only good thing about this class was that it was really easy, the workload was totally manageable, and he wasn't anal at all. I think that the format of the course was on the right track, and had he stuck to the syllabus and encouraged vocabulary development, this course could've been excellent. If you're going to take French Comp and Convo, I strongly suggest you take it with another professor. His teaching style might be better fitted for beginning and intermediate courses.