I took Hispanic Cultures I with Professor Grieve. Overall, she is a sweet woman who definitely has a passion for what she teaches, but I do not think she deserves a silver nugget. First and foremost, she is not a native speaker of Spanish, which I normally don't care about except with her you can hear it. Often in class she would not know the Spanish word for something and would have to ask one of the native speakers who was taking the class. Secondly, her grading style is too severe and you will lose multiple percentage points for leaving off an accent mark or making minor spelling errors. Thirdly, she has a rather antiquated way of structuring the final essay and requires you to find sources that quite simply are no longer in fashion or are not relevant to many students' topics, creating an incredible amount of work on the part of the student to try and meet her requirements. She's not a terrible teacher, but at the same time I would not take another class with her.
Mariana is a great professor. I had this course as an 840 but she was really into the subject material and very animated for so early in the morning. She is very nice and eager to help out. Also I would consider her a pretty generous grader, although there is far more writing for this course than there was for my Hispanic Cultures 2 class. I would recommend Mariana's course to anyone.
Orlando is awesome. He wants you to take the material seriously but doesn't want to impose his own views, so he will consider, accept, and happily discuss any interpretation you care to give of the reading. Super flexible in terms of deadlines and other logistical matters, he just wanted you to think about what you were writing and see if you can glean any new interpretations from the material. Our class had a theme, "empire", and I thought it was nice that he tried to tie every discussion back to that unifying concept. Office hour talks would just evolve into discussions on personal life philosophies.
Professor Bentancor is the best professor I've had at Columbia. I came into the class with a lot of anxiety about speaking in Spanish in the classroom, and he helped me to almost completely overcome that, purely by way of his encouraging and stimulating teaching style. If a thought or an insight occurs to you, he listens very carefully to what you say and actually appreciates the point you are trying to make. If you get stuck in the middle of a thought, or have trouble conveying it in another language (as I often do), he rescues you by taking whatever you've said and offering new ideas and questions related to it. There's no risk or discomfort in saying anything, even in a small classroom setting. Furthermore, even though the class is that of a historical survey, Bentancor gives the material an enormous amount of depth by injecting it with philosophical and theoretical questions and considerations. I was able to exercise my mind in a completely different, very interesting way. If at all possible, take this (or any) class with Bentancor. He's FANTASTIC.
Orlando Bentancor is a phenomenal professor. Our class went until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I always looked forward to going. Every single class was filled with interesting and challenging material. I honestly felt I learned something new every time. I often wondered from reading the homework assignments what else there was to discuss about it, but each class, Orlando incorporated more philosophy, history, and cultural perspectives that made me want to be there, pay attention, and learn as much as possible from him. He has a laid back demeanor, which makes him very approachable and easy to work with. He is always interested in hearing what students have to say. It is unique to find a professor who so genuinely values students' ideas and is looking to learn from their thoughts as well. This class was wonderful, and he made the material incredibly interesting and stimulating I am so glad to see Orlando has a gold nugget; it is much deserved.
I have had Orlando as my professor for two courses now and I must say he is the best professor I have had at Barnard/Columbia. This is a professor who truly cares about his students and wants everyone to do well. He makes sure that everyone understands the material, is very open to students asking questions, understanding about deadlines, and always available to meet during office hours. You will have to talk in this class but honestly it's fine. I often dread taking classes that meet late in the afternoon but having such an amazing professor makes it difficult to ever dread going to class. This man is beyond intelligent, when you least expect it he ties the material from the readings to other fields in a way that just makes everything make sense. As the previous reviewer said, Orlando is a true intellectual but what makes him different from other Columbia professors is that he never makes you feel like he is bragging about his knowledge, he shares it in a very modest way and he values the input of every student. There are not enough words to describe what a great professor he is. Definitely favorite professor thus far!!!
Orlando is definitely one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. In class, he always made sure that everyone had the chance to speak, answered all questions, and responded to any proposed ideas. However, he also offered his own (really interesting) insights as well. Orlando really brings to life topics that might otherwise seem dry and antiquated. He also really available outside of class via email or office hours, so although his grading can be tough, if you ask for help with compositions and other work, you will be able to do really well. Finally, even though we had serious intellectual discussions, class was always light-hearted and...believe it or not...fun!
Someone gold star this man immediately. Powers that be, get on it! Everything already said is true and then some. Just a really really cool guy. An intellectual free of the typical professor pretense or arrogance. Cannot recommend enough. You're basically getting a philosophy, history and spanish class all in one. If you don't like Orlando, then you may need to look at your life, cause you're probably a bad person and a commie, basically.
Such an amazing amazing amazing professor. He is such a good professor, he can explain things to your in many different ways so that you can understand things from any point of view that'll help you get the point. He is also so helpful with essays. Not only did i learn spanish, i learnt history, latin, cultural matters, etc. Highly recommend him. He's awesome.
Aurelie is one of those rare professors who actually makes sure that everyone in the class participates and understands the material. This can get a little scary when she will call on someone randomly for an answer. The way to avoid the "Spanish Inquisition" is to say something intelligent in the beginning of class so that you establish yourself as someone who talks a lot. The material was not particularly interesting, but I suppose that is probably just due to my personal preference for more modern writers. There are seven 1-2 page compositions that you write during the year. The first 3 you are allowed to revise. Grading on these is pretty fair and I would say that the grading is way more geared to content than actual grammar/spelling. I suppose at this point the Spanish department assumes you've learned as much grammar as you ever will and thus they stop teaching it. There are three exams during the semester which were not particularly hard. They consisted of ID's and an essay. A good way to study is to just write down definitions for all of the key terms listed on the course website. Overall, the material is not that exciting, but Aurelie is a very good professor. So if you have to take this class for the Spanish major/minor you won't regret taking it with Aurelie.
I absolutely adore Susan. She is what every professor should be and often isn't: smart, enthusiastic, incredibly sweet and caring, aware when you work hard and deserve good grades, understanding, and excessively available to talk outside of class. When I had to give a presentation one day, she went out for coffee with me to talk about the topics and help me clarify my points of discussion!! So unnecessary but SO appreciated and wonderful! You could tell that she cared about your work AND about you! I loved learning about the cultural history of spain, but even if you didn't at first, you would soon since she was enthusiastic and eager. She went out for dinner with us after the final and I was sad knowing that I may never have her as a teacher again, since next semester is her last at Columbia. However, we are keeping in touch and she is even planning a class reunion in January! A teacher like this is rare and special. Take her class next semester if at all possible :D
I really can't honestly recommend him as a teacher for this course. He seemed genuinely excited about the information concerning Spain, but that was about the only thing I can praise him on. Sometimes he said incorrect information about Latin America, and sometimes he basically just omitted it altogether. Given, this is a class that's in the process of being reworked, but I definitely wouldn't take it with Crapotta if I were you. Also, he's overly critical of all writing things you do--on top of the fact that he makes them 2 pages each instead of the department-dictated 250 words.