course
Intermediate French I

Sep 2014

Sam Bloom was an amazing Intermediate I professor. He's quirky and has an all-around comforting presence. I never felt overwhelmed or stressed in his class but I always felt like I was learning. We always opened each class just by talking to each other about our weekends or something in french instead of just diving in. He's a pretty generous grader ( I think he once kinda apologized for giving me a B+ on a paper which I was totally deserving of). He prepares you well for his quizzes and midterms; there were never any surprises. It's all grammar based so no memorization of vocab. You go over all the homework together but none of it's ever picked up or graded. That's not to say you shouldn't do it though–if he calls on you to answer one of the hw questions he'll notice if you have it done or not which helps/hurts your participation. This review is kinda all over the place but I just want people to know how great Sam Bloom is. Fairly easy and super fun class.

Nov 2013

The girl has style. I'll admit, I walked into Intermediate French I with a chip on my shoulder and an inflated ego -- I've been practicing French since high school, off-and-on, never fully committed. But this in itself was my first mistake: Kalinka makes you commit. If you come with a subpar background in French, and are unable to perfectly translate all of the basic verbs in the few forms you do know, I would recommend revising before taking her section, or trying a different professor. Kalinka is nice, save a few sly comments that are very tongue-and-cheek (I think it's the Russian in her). Particularly, she likes to poke fun at American customs and even raise eyebrows at those who try to communicate with her in French unless you speak it relatively well. On one hand, the course is meant to be (ideally) simple -- learn the material as quickly as possible and perform well in class so you can do even better on the exams. But I think the ultimate fault with this system, especially for me, was that the grammar lessons were quickly taught in French in an unclear manner that makes it difficult to complement with the translated lessons in the textbook. I just wish she spoke English for the grammar. The only thing that kept me coming to class was her Parisian chic style and her accent. If anyone can dress for class, it's Kalinka.

May 2013

Professor Bloom is the best French professor I've had at Barnard. So caring, funny, and understanding. Quizzes, Midterm, and Final are extremely fair. Professor Bloom also emphasizes having a French class with a relaxed atmosphere - i.e. he will never call on you randomly to immediately conjugate a verb. This makes the class beyond enjoyable and students can learn at pace where they can understand the material without being stressed about immediate regurgitation! I feel that my French grammar skills have improved immensely because I was able to take the time to learn the material in environment without the anxiety-inducing strategies employed by most French professors I have encountered at Columbia. Take this class!

Jan 2013

Best French class I've ever taken! I've already taken French for about 6 years, so I knew many of the lessons taught in the class. The professor obviously has a love of the French language and wants to spread its joy to you. She showed us pictures of the different regions of France and we even sung all together a French nursery song. She only allows English when clarifying something very difficult to say/understand in French. She works on all aspects of the language with everyone individually. Sometimes she goes around asking everyone to answer individually, but she never makes you feel bad if you get something wrong, she just keeps encouraging you until you get it right. The class is focused on tenses and grammar, but she does not test you on very unusual exceptions.

Dec 2011

She is a wonderful professor, and I highly recommend her. She wants you to do well and always makes sure you know what to expect for exams and quizzes. The pacing of the course is fine, and you will come out of the class with a better understanding of french grammar. That being said, I would've liked to have spoken more in class. Speaking english was permitted for clarification of concepts and assignments. It's not hard to make a B, but I found it hard to do better than that.

Dec 2011

Postlewate is amazing. She inspired me to do so much more work that was required in this class. She's also an extremely clear teacher. I was nervous about learning grammar in french, but she does a very good job of explaining grammatical concepts without switching into english. Talking in her class wasn't an intimidating experience. She's extremely friendly and wants everyone to talk. We read a murder mystery and a satire in class and for homework, which lead to some funny french discussions. The point is, Postlewate rocks. And, for what it's worth, she also has an amazing sense of style as well. =]

May 2011

I really liked how he forced everyone in the class to participate by calling on people at random; knowing that paying attention and participating was an absolute necessity in the class kept me involved, engaged, and prepared for class at all times. He frequently used humor and his considerable knowledge of language and grammar to enhance the teaching of the material in the book. He was also consistently available during office hours despite what we all knew to be a busy schedule and promptly replied to emails, albeit a bit tersely. Participation is definitely a big part of this class. If you don't like speaking up or being faced with occasional interrogative questioning, don't take it.

Dec 2008

What ever you do, do not take this class. It makes me cringe thinking of the time I had to spend sitting through it. Don't get me wrong...Erica is really nice and available outside of the class for help, but the class was a joke. Our "conversation" practice consisted of weird exercises that entailed you speaking with a partner about some famous person or painting or your vacation and didn't help at all. Erica was hard to understand, she muttered and I couldn't really hear her. The grammar was poorly taught, but the quizzes and tests were really hard and did not match the level of practice we had during class. Overall, I did not learn anything, and my regard for the language dropped.