course
First-Year Russian I

Dec 2020

I loved this course so much. Even though it was on Zoom, Scout built a tight-knit community that inspired me to wake up for this 10:10 4 times per week. I am not a morning person, but I never wanted to miss this class (and it's so intensive that you can't really skip class anyway). I made multiple friends ON ZOOM thanks to this class. Scout was available to help whenever I needed it and really cares for her students. In my conversations with Scout during office hours, it's been clear how much she prioritizes teaching. Have no fear about taking Russian from an american- it actually means she understands what it's like to learn this complicated language from nothing. Also, don't be surprised that this PhD student is a better teacher than most veterans of the university system. She really cares and is super organized. This class was good enough to inspire me to write my first Culpa review. Everyone reading this go write a review because god knows we use this site enough and don't contribute to it. Take Russian with Scout, no doubt.

Apr 2020

Claudia is one of the most caring instructors I've ever had the pleasure of learning from. Russian I is no joke. My first year in Russia could have been terrible and painful (because the class was at 8:50AM every morning and Russian requires learning a whole new alphabet/grammar system), but Claudia made it the best experience. She's not as organized as some of the other teachers, but 1) she's only marginally less organized and 2)the level of dedication/care she devotes to her craft (teaching) is insane and wholly trumps that small level of disorganization. You'll have so much fun in her class. Claudia is kind, quirky, and an awesome choice for your first year in Russian or Polish. I wish she could teach the second or third year!

Dec 2019

I am really glad that I was in Claudia's section of this course. The effort that she put into making sure that her students could gain the most from this course was really apparent. Not only did she return our assignments in a very timely manner, she would also take pictures and email us corrections of the homework assignments we had turned in the day before a quiz or exam so that we could have the corrections that evening while studying for the quiz. I was particularly impressed by her powerpoint presentations and the charts she had created to help us study difficult concepts. Whenever the textbook explained something in a way that was at all unclear or if any of the students were confused about something Claudia would (usually that night) make incredibly organized and comprehensive charts, diagrams, and lists to help us with what we were having trouble with. Claudia has put the time into getting to know each one of her students and sometimes has even catered the assignments to our individual needs.

May 2015

Nataliya is not only one of the best professors I have ever come across, but is truly one of the most kind-hearted and welcoming individuals on this planet. Seriously. In class, she is a compassionate (albeit demanding) professor, who sets high expectations and thoroughly invests herself in the progress of her students. She always comes to class with a huge rush of energy, despite the fact that she teaches multiple sections and oversees the entire language program (with Alla Smyslova, I believe). Moreover, she makes herself essentially available at all hours - willing to meet at any time, answering e-mails late at night, staying after class to talk, etc. She and her husband Ilya (also a fantastic human being) recently came here from Harvard, and they both are exuberant and devoted to their subject. I have heard stories of students going to Russia and meeting up with Nataliya and Ilya, going around the city with them to concerts, bars, museums, etc. For me personally, Nataliya has been an essential member in my progress - writing numerous letters of recommendation (often at short-notice), referring me to different language programs and different people, offering advice, discussing topics related to other courses, talking about life, etc. I wholeheartedly recommend Nataliya, and would tell any of my friends to take Russian with her as a must before leaving Columbia.

Jan 2008

Even though he usually teaches Czech, he is a superb Russian teacher. He really knows what he's talking about, and can be really funny and engaging. He's very accommodating if you need to meet with him outside of class. That being said, he's a pretty harsh grader, and I never did find out what his policy on grading homework was...

Jan 2007

I loved taking Russian with Steven. He is a nice guy in general, and understanding when students have trouble understanding. He was strict about students speaking Russian in class and not reverting to English, and this made a huge difference--by the end of the semester, we all realized how much we had learned just through the enforced practice. The only annoying thing was that the class was five days a week and we had tests about every week and a half or so, although this was not his fault as he was not responsible for creating the curriculum or the daily schedules. Overall he was awesome, and obviously cared about students really learning the language, which made a huge difference. He sparked my own interest in the Russian language, and the great class I had with him is probably the reason I am continuing with it.

May 2005

This class is actually pretty doable. Russian is hard but it's still a European langauge and has an alphabet. That said, this class is INCREDIBLY time- consuming. There is at least 2 hours worth of homework and class preparation every night. The tests are not easy and if you don't get an idea of the dialogue for the next days class you feel like a total moron the next day. BUT Kitson is a really, really nice guy who totally loves Russian everything and is always available to talk to outside of class. The Slavic Languages department is so great and Kitson, while looking a little goofy and cartoonish, is a total asset. The real point of this class is that you actually learn a lot of Russian in a very short period of time. If you're willing to put in the time for this class, definitely do it.

Nov 2002

O Natalia, how do I love thee? You made 10 am classes a daily joy, and you seduced a diehard pre-med into the Slavic Department.... Natalia is a graduate student, but she acts more like an encouraging older sister. Her English is perfectly American (I'm pretty sure she grew up here), but her Russian sounds equally authentic. In the rare non-Russian-related discussion, she betrays a hip, with-it nature. Russian profs are always cheerful, it seems, but Natalia even laughs at students' lame jokes!