course
Elementary Latin I

Dec 2020

Professor Ianni, or as she likes to be called, Ms. Emma, is new to teaching. Because of that, she's lenient, if a bit disorganized. For example, she once assigned us a quiz but forgot to write it. She never gave out rubrics for anything, even major assignments. Sometimes her choice of homework was questionable. For instance, she had us write "learning logs," basically 500 words on what we had learned in the past two weeks, and how we felt about it. We did Learning Logs instead of having assigned grammar worksheets or vocabulary tests, as I had done in other Latin classes. That being said, the class was an easy A, and Ms. Emma was very sweet and enthusiastic. I took several years of Latin beforehand, so maybe this class was easier for me than others, but I'm pretty sure no one ended the class with lower than a 75. The average might have even been an A. Overall, it was a fairly good class. If you've already taken Latin, or you want to breeze through your language requirement, I'd recommend it.

Dec 2019

Very knowledgable instructor who creatively taught the class from memory, rather than boring powerpoints or repetitive readings. Entertaining lectures were effectively presented through the use of interesting stories about history, comparisons to other languages, and even science. Overall a challenging class with a heavy workload, but that should be expected with Latin regardless of the teacher. In all honesty David Ratzan is the most academically well rounded, understanding, and professional Columbia professor I’ve had the pleasure of taking a class with. I wish his knowledge could guide me further down Latin’s rabbit hole for another semester.

Jul 2011

Ms. Murphy is very knowledgeable about the subject matter in which she teaches, but understanding the information is not distributing the information - which is where this particular instructor is lacking. I quickly came to understand that she has absolutely no background in linguistics or philosophy of linguistics, so her understanding of Latin is more a matter of memorizing charts than having a deep understanding of the language. The textbook used in her class was not too bad, however, I believe the format of the book is ambitious in a way that is inappropriate for people picking up the language for the very first time. Other foreign language instructors and commercial foreign language textbook editors I have shown Learn To Read Latin to have laughed it off as one of particularly poor quality. The problem with Ms. Murphy in that regard is that she is bound to teach from a poor textbook, and without the education in linguistics, she is incapable at this time in her career of bridging the gap between pedantic instruction and the potential for dynamism found in other language courses. Having taken her class as an adult, and having come from working in academia for many years, I know that there are seasoned professors with the ability to make any subject accessible to the student, Ms. Murphy is just not there yet. Her youth counts against her here, as she has been prone to over-emotional and highly unprofessional emotional outbursts in class. Her tests are tough but fair, she even grades fairly, but the amount of very uncomfortable moments in the classroom were highly unrepresentative of the Columbia experience. If you have the opportunity to take Latin with another instructor, I highly suggest you do.

May 2011

I am somewhat in agreement with the review below. However, I am not sure why a student would say that Elizabeth is strict and demanding. We were not only taking a language at a college level; it was a language class at Columbia University. Languages move at a break neck pace at this place. In order to succeed, you need to study your vocab everyday, review for the weekly exam, do your homework, and participate in class. Elizabeth expected all of that and I believe that it was perfectly reasonable. Her expectations were not any different than any other language professor on campus. She was very caring and was always available before and after class to meet individually. I emailed her all the time with questions and she always responded thoughtfully within a day. Towards the end of the semester, she formed a weekly study group so that we could successfully pass the final exam. In addition, I thought she was a really fair grader. If you are sincere about a desire to learn Latin, sign up for a class with Elizabeth.

May 2011

Elizabeth is extremely strict and demanding. The workload for this class is quite heavy to the point that it can seem excessive. Yet, I do not regret taking this class whatsoever. After a mere 3 months of Latin, I am now able to translate short excerpts from various poems, such as the Metamorphoses and the Aeneid. This would not have been possible had it not been for Elizabeth's strict disposition and the heavy workload. Looking back I doubt I've ever learned so much in a class. Elizabeth is also extremely helpful and is willing to help you out whenever you're stuck or need extra practice. She is also quite good at explaining difficult grammatical concepts. This class is not for everyone, as you need to be willing to work very hard in order to keep up and succeed. However, as long as you're willing to put in the effort, you'll do fine and appreciate everything you learned.

May 2010

I took Latin I with Professor Matone in the Spring. She's a delightful person - very friendly, young, energetic, and very understanding to students' needs. There is a wide range of Latin ability in the class but I think she manages it well. Her tests were more difficult than I expected.. just make sure to have ALL vocabulary and verb + noun forms memorized. Latin isn't one of those subjects where you can just pull an all-nighter before the exam and do well - you have to acquire translating abilities gradually over time - so it is MUCH better to study a little bit of grammar + vocab daily than to try to cram in everything the night before the test. Reading Latin is like reading music. The more you see, the easier gets. I reiterate - review daily and go to class everyday and it will not be difficult to do well.

Jan 2010

Zoe is a great teacher and she has a cool New Zealand accent. She presents the material clearly and is good at answering questions. The class progresses pretty quickly because there is a lot to learn. This is Latin I of course so we mostly just learned vocabulary, syntax and translated relatively simple sentences. The main challenge of the course was developing a good intuition for translating Latin. As in any language course, this takes a lot of practice. The first quarter of the class is spent going over the trickier parts of the homework ,which is helpful, and the rest of the class is spent covering new material. There are weekly quizzes which are a good way to boost your grade and they make sure that you are keeping up with the class. I really enjoyed this class. Zoe deserves a gold star from culpa.

Dec 2009

Caleb really cares about how his students do, and I could tell he likes the language a lot. His grading is very fair, and he doesn't want you to do badly. He is always available to answer any questions. He's really enthusiastic, and this makes the course better. However, it seems like it's his first year teaching, and this means that he doesn't really have his own style yet, and mostly talks straight from the book during class. If you go to class expecting to hear a different perspective on the material you've just read, you'll be sorely disappointed. The class also moves extremely fast. If you've taken Latin before, you'll probably have no issue with this, but since I was one of the few in the class with no prior Latin experience, I found it difficult to keep up with the pace. Despite these two complaints, I still feel that I have learned quite a bit in this class, and I would recommend the course to anyone who doesn't mind a LOT of work and is very interested in the language.

May 2007

Ian's a fantastic teacher, extraordinarily patient and a very good communicator. He really cares about the students and is ready via email or during his office hours to answer any question no matter how mundane. He's also a lenient grader; he recognizes how difficult these language courses are and he gives his students every break he can. About the only thing I can say in the negative is that he is relatively inexperienced. He is a teaching fellow and at times seemed to be adjusting to his position as much as we were as students to ours. This is to be expected from a teaching fellow though and as such he is one of the better ones I've had.

Feb 2007

When things get out of hand in class, Ian, standing proudly before his disciples like a Roman emperor, gesturing as if delivering a great decree, orders everyone to "decrease the mirth." For it is difficult in this class not to be mirthful. In Ian's class, you will read of wretched slaves in futile love and women who seize men with swords. You will dress up as a famous Roman during Halloween and address the class in Latin. That said (and partially because of it), Ian is, especially academically speaking, one of the best teachers I've ever had. No other teacher will go through your every homework with such thoroughness and painstaking care, correcting every mistake every time you make it. Even those who loathe Latin will admit that Ian is extremely thorough--in teaching, grading, evaluating, answering questions. And while his class plan is often right in the textbook, go to class for the rigorous practice and for Ian, for you are privileged to bear witness to Ian's life--every moment of it is epic. The class can be difficult sometimes, but always engaging. Don't expect to learn to say "How are you?" and "My name is so and so." You'll instead learn the vocabulary of war, death, treachery, poetry. Deal with it or just go fall upon a sword. This isn't French. Take this class. Latin is a challenging and impressive language, one that will shed light on all others, and Ian--well who am I to speak of Ian? Let the great poets of years to come shower him with praises.

Aug 2005

You can not do better than Erik. He's on your side. He's smart, he's funny, he's forgiving, he's a fantastic teacher. You will not find a better instructor for this material. He will teach you, but he is not a hard ass. If you miss class, you'll fall behind, but he makes class as enjoyable as possible. He is, in every way, the best instructor for this material.

Jan 2005

Erik is the best Latin teacher I could imagine having. Class, though excruciatingly long (it was from 6-8 pm), was never too horrible to get through because he kept it light with jokes and had everyone participate (which was certainly conducive to staying awake). The material was challenging and the pace was quick, but I'm sure it was comparable to all of the other Elementary Latin classes. I thought the grading was fair (though I don't think I could have survived without the extra credit, which was a great cushion to my grade), and while the workload was heavy, it was manageable for a 4 point class. I would absolutely suggest taking Latin (or any class, for that matter) with Erik, because he's a great instructor, is always available for help, and honestly seems to care about his students.

Dec 2004

Howard is a great ball of semi-awkward fun. He's a grad student who loves Latin, though he isn't uptight about it at all. He can get a little flustered if you ask a question that requires that he deviate from his lesson plan, but in general he is very helpful and can explain the complexities of the language effectively. He's really made me consider a latin concentration. He's also somewhat forgiving if you seem to really "get" the material. I am hoping to get an A- in this class, though it certainly took effort.

Jan 2000

Prof. Milnor is one of the best teachers in the department. She is very accessible. She truly wants you to learn the material and will help any way she can. As an elementary language class, the grammar can get pretty boring at times, but she works hard to keep the subject interesting. I would recommend any class that she teaches!!!