Intermediate Italian I

Mar 2013

Professor Di Nino is excellent at keeping subject matter interesting and fresh by integrating media and visuals into his coursework. He is energetic and brings out the same enthusiasm from his students. His exercises are appropriate, effective, and directly related to the material on quizzes. They are also obviously put together with consideration for his current class. He is a great person and a great instructor! He is thoughtful, and he genuinely cares about the success of his students. I went to his office hours (but he actually receives you anytime you need him) and he was incredible helpful. He remembered pieces from my compositions and reminded me of them to hel me understand concept.

Sep 2012

This is honestly the WORST class I have ever taken in my time at Columbia. If you want a professor who picks a few favorites from the beginning and is outright rude and demeaning to everyone else, take this class. Nicola would pretend to snore during students' presentations, stand over students while they were taking quizzes even though he knew this made them nervous and give students nicknames that were blatantly rude. Your grade was a reflection of how much he liked you and no matter how hard you tried to make your grade better, it stayed the same because of his ridiculous subjectivity. Some grades were never handed back and he had to be asked after the course in order to get them. Every single day I dreaded going to this class. This professor befriended students and talked about everyone in the class to them, saying things that completely ridiculous and even if they had been true they should have never been said to a student. He was condescending and outright mean and good luck if you aren't picked as one of his favorite students because your grade will not be pleasant.

Apr 2012

I've had Nicola for the entire year so far in Intermediate Italian. Honestly, he's probably one of the best professors I've had a Columbia thus far. He puts a ton of energy into class through preparing extensive and elaborate handouts and activities for us to do in class. He expects us to work, obviously, but makes it pleasurable by making class fun. He's funny, charismatic, and really wants his students to succeed in learning the language. I'd definitely recommend him for any student who wants to be challenged to actually learn how to speak Italian.

Jan 2011

Valentina is a decent teacher in her own way--however, her and my ways did not mesh well and I think there are a couple broad reasons for that that will apply to others as well. Her only main flaw is that she can be a bit short and snippy, but in Italian, or as far as I know any language class, that's a BIG problem! The whole point of the small seminar class is discussion, and her attitude stunted the discussion potential of students greatly. One annoying aspect of this is that in the rare times that a spontaneous discussion actually got going in the class, it would usually be a tangent branching from the main topic (for example, discussing an article about feminism in 50's Italy launched a much more involved discussion of feminism in modern Iran and France) and instead of encouraging this, Valentina would cut it off so we could "get back on topic." Sigh. In my opinion, those moments that people actually used the language were the priority. Also concerning "using the language," another of me pet peeves with her is that she taught most of the class in Italian, but at the end when assigning homework, she'd switch to English. Homework assignments required only basic words and concepts--we all know how to understand "read page 50" in Italian--and hey, if we hadn't before, now we never would, since she for some reason would stop using the language we were there to be learning. There was also a weird almost-favoritism in her classes. I think without consciously meaning to, she ended up seeming to always pick on the same people over again (people who were not themselves dying to be picked on). I think she disliked me, as she would always call on anyone else rather than me unless my hand was the only one raised, but that's less relevant. There was one guy who she absolutely *loved*--he could do no wrong, and I swear she *giggled* whenever she talked to him. It was strange. Her attitude in compositions was that we should stick to the basic grammatical structures that we knew well, which was disappointing to me because while I can understand the importance of forming a good foundation grammatically, I wish she had encouraged us to push the envelope of our grasp of the written language. She is not a harsh grader. She's not a monster. But she does have the above shortcomings, and those were enough for me to have had enough.

Dec 2010

I really like Prof. Beneduce. No doubt about it: he's a tough teacher, and he expects a lot from his students in terms of serious commitment to Italian. However, the class definitely acclimated to his style over time, and I think that we all grew to like him as the semester went on. The class format is pretty standard (students talk most of the class and get called on at random) but everyone, including the teacher, was pretty comfortable when others made mistakes. There are biweekly compositions that you get two shots at doing, and the final grade averages your original with the re-write. In addition, there are homework assignments almost every evening, which were tough at first but became easier as I learned more Italian. The only really hard part of the class were the midterm and quizzes, which were graded pretty harshly and resulted in many B/B+s. I'm not sure how the final was graded but it was definitely easier having a full three hours to complete it. Also make sure to attend his review sessions before the midterm/final because a lot of what's discussed shows up on the exams. Bottom line, you will learn a ton of Italian in this class. I'd recommend Prof. Beneduce for students who are really excited about the language; otherwise, it might just seem like a ton of busy work.

May 2010

You will fall in love with Valentina because she is Italian to the core: she's hilarious, gregarious, and relentlessly searches for a good time in every class session. She cackles with laughter and holds back no emotion in class, and her openness is delightful. When she teaches, you feel more like you're being won over by someone who wants to be your friend than being lectured at. No one is more approachable than Valentina: be honest and respectful and put in a genuine effort (most of the time) and she'll love you forever; demonstrate that you're apathetic or decidedly uninterested in Italian and things will get tense. She's an easy grader and teaches clearly enough. If you have any sense of humor, Valentina's class will quickly and surely become your favorite.

Sep 2008

Patrizio is one of the best Italian instructors Ive ever had. His classes were truly a joy to attend, and even though I took his Intensive course during the summer (meaning that class was held every day) I looked forward to every class. Unlike the previous reviewer, I felt that he went at the perfect pace -- if people had questions about old material he would go over it, but not extensively and never to the point that we didn't review all the material we set out to review. He is always open to answering any questions you may have, before or after class. Beware, he definitely doesn't let you slack off during this class -- be prepared to be asked a question as soon as you start to drift off (he seems to have a sixth sense for that). Overall, the workload was decent, it was a summer class so it was obviously a little more intense than the regular semester -- but I highly highly recommend this professor!

Dec 2007

Hands down, Failla is the best. He is a very laid back guy who really cares about his students. He has an infinite patience with students who have limited language skills and keeps a good sense of humor. Sometimes class can be tedious since most of it in spent going over assignments. He also insists on going over basic things like the alphabet and numbers at the beginning of each class - which gets old after the first two weeks. However, he does spice things up by incorporating youtube in most classes. Take any class you can with Failla. You will find yourself looking forward to these refreshing and relaxing two hours during the school week.

May 2007

Coming off a semester of very little work in Professor Bellati's class (highly recommended if you have the option), I was a little worried that Lilly was going to be all work and no play. Little did I know that this woman is a saint. She is so kind, sympathetic, forgiving (you can tell what kind of student I was), and very skilled in teaching Italian. Essentially, she allows you to make the class as much work as you want it to be, in that she'll accept assignments well past deadlines and go over everything in class (ergo, it matters little how much you do outside of class). She was also very cool about a little harmless tardiness every now and then. Basically, she's the coolest, and she adds little touches here and there to make the class more exciting (including bringing in food, making a mix CD for us, and using our midterm reports to create a guide to Italy for the whole class). I'm not going to pretend that this course will change your life; if you're like most people enrolled, you're probably taking it to fulfill the language requirement anyway. But Lilly makes it fun, and she will meet with you outside of class whenever to go over confusing concepts. She also prepares you very well for the quizzes and exams, which was much appreciated by this lackluster studente. All of that is why, in a department full of young, friendly instructors, Lilly is simply the best. (She is also very jovial and good-natured in class--I don't think I saw her get upset with anyone once this semester.)

Apr 2007

I love Failla! He is my favorite professor at Columbia! I am even taking his Elementary 2 conversation (it's below my level) because he is just that great of a professor. He is always in a good mood and knows everything about Italian language and culture. Class is always fun, but you learn a lot. Take any class you can with him, he's great!

Jan 2007

I loved this class! As a first year, first semester student, this class was a wonderful transition from high school to college. I came in planning on majoring in Italian, and the class just reinforced my love for the language even more. Failla is a great professor, always energetic, funny and engaging. Although the timeslot was awful, Failla's class was definately worth the sacrifice and I am taking his Intermediate 2 class this semester. This class was a relaxed, easy and fun way to improve upon my Italian skils and to learn a lot about Italian culture.

Jan 2007

Very good teacher. I was amazed at how well she controlled the class and kept us interested and entertained, especially for the first half of the semester. It seemed as though the second half, when class motivation was lacking, she was unable to lift everyone's spirits all the time. However, for those that wanted to be there, she was always extremely helpful and made the material clear. You can't go wrong with Maria Luisa, people. You won't regret having chosen her.

Jan 2007

What's with all the Mario-bashing? I love this guy; he's friendly, kind of funny, and easy. If you have a busy schedule but need to get through the language requirement, Mario's class is simply a godsend. First, day-to-day work is minimal, and most classes are just spent talking about your weekend, watching a video, or reciting Dante (not the most fun, but it's 3 lines a week, so it's very manageable). Second, Mario tells in detail what each quiz will be like (and the final could only help our grades, although I'm still not sure why). Third, grading is unbelievably easy; some of my answers were blatantly wrong, and he didn't mark me down. Fourth, he is sort of strict about attendance, but he even started to forget about that as the semester wore on (I missed a couple times more is than technically allowed). Essentially, this class is usually a pleasure, if only because it is so laid-back. Just show up with a smile and enjoy a lesiurely semester. As long as you don't call Mario's bluff, he won't call yours. (However, if you really want to learn about the grammar and nuances of the language, I'd look elsewhere.)

Jul 2006

Overall a really well informed great guy. He doesn't treat the class like a bunch of babies and expects you to do your work. He also has an adorable personality. A snazzy dresser too.

May 2005

I still haven't had a bad Italian teacher, Paola kept things interesting, didn't use the TERRIBLE text book except at a bare minimum, took advice/opinion from the students about planning activities, let us watch and analyze a few films and really made it a fun experience, i don't think you can go wrong with the department, but Paola is right up there, I think the native Italians are the best, plus she brought us lots of cookies!

Jan 2005

While a wonderful character when you're on his good side, Mario may not be the best choice for students trying to learn the ins and outs of Italian grammar. His classes tend to be scattered and often confusing if one isnt already proficient in Italian, and would be best described as a crash course in grammar and Italian culture. Be warned: Mario tends to play favorites, and if you're on his good side, you can get away with murder. If not,...well, then you might not enjoy the class as much.. A helpful hint: attendance is important to Bellati, as his the weekly Dante memorizations. This man takes his Dante seriously. If you can get this two things down, you should be set. Overall, I really enjoyed this class, and really recommend him as a teacher. While the first paragraph might scare you off, he's really quite a wonderful person, and he tries to teach you more than just the textbook grammar. He's a bit eccentric, which really made my first class of the day worth getting up for, and class is rarely boring. Take this class if you're confident (and paid attention the first 2 semesters) in Italian, but need to brush up on the basics. Otherwise, if you need hardcore help and structure, look elsewhere.

Dec 2004

As much as I agree with the previous reviewer about Bellati's many inadequacies as a teacher, I also get the feeling that the reviewer's homophobic side got the better of him while writing the review. Yes, Mario will sometimes give the guys a little extra attention, but as a guy who took his class, I can say with certainty that he's not a "creep" though not a good teacher

Nov 2004

Where do I begin? First off, he likes to spend most of his time talking about what he'd like to do instead of doing it. Most time is spent listening to him talk about things unrelated to the class at hand or teaching italian. If you're looking to breeze by in italian... this is your class! If you're looking to actually LEARN Italian, avoid this class. Second... he's a frist class creep. I have experienced first hand his inappropriate behavior. If you are a guy... you may want to try taking another course where you don't risk being subjected to his inappropriate attempts at checking you out or making inappropriate comments to you inside and outside the class-- or worse yet, when he tries finding ways to touch you while you're doing work. It was a nauseating experience, and one I wish I hadn't been subjected to. Why is the Italian department STILL employing a man who can't control his sexual appetite, and worse yet... can't teach! The females, oddly enough, either loved him (becuase he was so "sweet" to them) or hated him (because they didn't kiss up to him). If you can avoid his classes, then do so-- and if you can't avoid his classes-- then don't take Italian at all since he'll most likely ruin the experience for you one way or another.

Apr 2004

Professoressa Olson is so great! Her two hour classes actually fly by and she is one of the sweetest people I know. She is an excellant instructor. I never even felt like I had to study for her tests because she prepared us so well. Bravissima!

Apr 2004

I wonder how this man came to teach at Columbia. I suppose he must have some talent, an expertise in Italian literature perhaps, but he is by far the absolute worst teacher I have ever had in any subject. Now, for the record, I'm getting an A, so it's not that I'm bitter about my grade. I'm bitter that after working as hard as I did to get into Columbia, I would have to sit in a class four times a week, listening to Prof. Bellati speak about whatever comes into his head, and then teach myself Italian at home. I thought we were supposed to have the best of the best teaching here. Bellati emphatically proves this wrong. One of the things that upset me the most is his assertion that he "teaches to the test." First off, this isn't a good way to teach anything, especially not a language –teachers are accused of something that he openly admits to. Secondly, he doesn't even do that well -he consistently attempts to teach the class something he has never so much as mentioned in the last ten minutes of a class and then puts it on a quiz the next day. Prof. Bellati’s assignment of homework is simply ridiculous. He is completely inconstant in every way. He will assign 15 exercises one night, and nothing for the three nights after. More than half of the exercises he assigns he will forget about and never go over. Disorganized and incompetent are the only words that describe his teaching. I know this review is getting long, but I couldn’t write about Prof. Bellati without mentioning Dante –in possibly the worst teaching tactic ever, Prof. Bellati insists that you memorize a section of Dante’s Inferno, citing that it will help your pronunciation and you will be able to “impress your friends with your Dante.” By forcing students to memorize it, the focus of what could be a half-decent exercise, shifts from pronunciation to remembering the words. It’s a huge waste of time. Prof. Bellati is a decent guy –just a very, very incompetent and obnoxious teacher. Be prepared to waste your time with this confusing, irritating, and disorganized man.

Jan 2004

Prof. Gozzi is the best! Her classes fly by because they are actually fun and the work load is not at all painful. She explains each topic very clearly and as long as you pay attention, minimal studying is necessary.

Nov 2002

Where do I even begin to talk about how bitter I am that I got Mario for Intermediate 1? I had the lovely, vivacious, funfunfun Emily Altman for my first two semesters, and I suppose anyone after her would be a letdown, but Mario plumbed depths I never knew could exist. He turned my overflowing love for the language into... well, total apathy. I can't be arsed about class anymore. All we ever do when we show up is listen to HIM talk. In English half the time, to boot. And he doesn't TEACH, ever. He expects you to know the material, and is incapable of explaining anything that's unclear, and yells at students who don't get it. "You have been making the same mistake all semester!" Er, yes - perhaps because you have not yet succeeded in explaining the problem? He doesn't teach us - what he does is make us memorise Dante. Apparently this is supposed to help us magically speak Italian in some way. I have to say, I don't see how - would making a kid who started learning English a year ago memorise "Whither 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" have any purpose? As it is, I don't entirely understand the (medieval) Italian, and have succeeded in memorising a very long sequence of pretty syllables. Which have had no impact whatsoever on my spoken or written Italian. The quizzes are departmental and not hard, and easy to do well in - but this as a result of the wonderful Emily and all the grammar she taught last year. If you don't have a solid foundation in the language, Mario isn't going to help. He's going to make you cry in frustration. I'm not even signed up for 1202 next sem - sheesh, who cares about completing the sequence anymore. This semester has pretty much been an overwhelmingly awful experience. Summary: If the only timeslot that fits your schedule is taught by Mario Bellati, take up another language. French, Russian, even Gujarati. Whatever. Anything is better than this.

Jun 2002

Mario is hilarious. As some previous reviewers have noted, he is irreverent about anything and everything, but in a very unoffensive, amusing way. He may make fun of students, but it's not meanspirited at all. Fun class and it's really really easy to get an A, but you probably won't learn much. He talks almost constantly, and he usually speaks English (which is a little tough to understand sometimes since his accent is so heavy). You will have to memorize a long passage of Dante, but you can sorta pick it up in class and glance at the text as you recite, 'cause it doesn't really matter if you don't have it down. Fun, friendly atmosphere. I would recommend him if, like me, you get bored to tears in typical grammar courses in which you have to sit and listen to repeated explanations of insanely simple grammar points. He barely does any grammar, so you have to learn it yourself, but the quizzes are the usual (very easy) and I think he gives good grades even when they're not really deserved.

May 2002

Oh Bellati, Bellati, Bellati. You'll never meet a more interesting character--he loves to workout (and seems obsessed with his weight), calls himself a "Pagan," and is ambiguously gay. He is hilarious to listen to in class--which is what you will spend most of your time doing, since he never actually lets the students get a word in edgewise--about everything from modern Italian politics (he hates Berlusconi) to his psycho-analytical interpretations of Dante's inferno. Do not expect to really learn anything, unless you just understand Italian grammar really well already, or you're willing to basically teach yourself from the book. There is no conversation in the class, and he thinks that a good way to improve pronunciation is to make his students memorize a passage of Dante over the semester--a painful, and in my opinion, pointless exercise. He also does not actually teach any of the grammatical concepts; he just reads them out of the book. It is really interesting to hear him talk about the movies and cultural themes, but he does constantly repeat himself. Every time we talked about the movie "La Famiglia" he said "It's about three generations of the same family in one apartment," and his favorite metaphor about memorizing Dante is that it is "just like working out, because you have to exercise the muscle, and keep practicing to see results." All in all, take the class if you feel pretty confident in your language abilities (i.e. you don't really need instruction), because he is such an entertaining guy. But find an outside-of-class outlet to practice conversation skills, because you basically never get/have to talk in class.

Jan 2002

He is probably the worst language teacher I have ever had. Granted, he is amusing, but you learn nothing, except the main requirement of the class-having to memorize Dante. Also, he chooses a few students to scrutinize more closely and then make fun of, which strikes me as arbitrary and simply mean. The class is formed around what Bellati finds interesting and his absurd assignments, not learning Italian.

Jan 2002

The bottom line: Maria Luisa Gozzi is the best professor I've had at Columbia in my two years here. This elegant, calm, witty Italian will leave you impressed. However, she expects her students to work as hard at making class interesting as she does. Class is a lot of conversation, rather than the usual lets-study-more-rote-grammar-exercises; this is where Gozzi really shines. Conversation with Gozzi is uplifiting, intelligent, and remarkably witty. In her well dressed Italian style, I almost think she should be a fancy socialite on the upper west side. If nothing else, Gozzi will charm you and leave you in love with Italian.