I truly loved this course. Yan Ling is an incredible professor, she loves her job and her students and she makes the class environment warm and friendly. The class has a rigorous level and we are constantly learning a lot. That being said, the course load is manageable and Yan Ling is always available to help. The lectures about vocabulary and grammar structures are helpful, and are always followed by mandatory participation by all students in order to grasp the concepts more concretely, often structured as conversations in small groups or as an entire class. Also, the textbook is consistently used and parallel to lectures, making it easy to follow. This class requires a large time commitment as there are daily assignments, consisting of quizzes, homework, memorization, and recordings. The class itself is also a large time commitment since it meets four times a week in addition to a weekly drill session. Overall, I dedicate 6 hours in class and around 10 hours outside of class per week, 16 hours total. Yan Ling is full of enthusiasm for Chinese language and she passes it on to her students. Her lectures are clear and she always welcomes questions and participation. She is always quick to return assignments and provide feedback, usually within the next day. Highly recommend this course for anyone interesting in learning Chinese for the first time!! At first the workload and language is overwhelming but if you are willing to put in the commitment it is 100% worthwhile! TAKE THIS CLASS!!!!
TAKE YAN LAOSHI'S CLASS! I don't know why she doesn't have more (recent) CULPA reviews. She is the sweetest, most adorable professor ever. I spent so much of both semesters of this class laughing, but also definitely learning Chinese. Her teaching style is super effective, and she gets everyone to participate. Most of the people that took the fall semester stayed with her for the spring, and I totally understand why. She clearly cares about her students, and does everything she can to help them. There are due dates on all assignments, but she basically always accepts work late, and even allows people to make up quizzes/memorizations. Chinese is obviously a tough language, and it's almost like learning two at once between the pinyin with tones and the characters, but the structure of the class really keeps you on top of things since there's almost always a quiz or test or memorization on any given day. If you can get into her section, definitely take it. I hated the 4:10-5:15 time slot, but I stuck with it. I'm so sad she doesn't teach intermediate because I cannot imagine that I will have a better experience with another Chinese professor than I have had with her!
Hanyu Xiao is god's gift sent to Earth in the form of a very fashionable, surprisingly goofy, great Chinese instructor. She sincerely cares for her students and is so freaking nice, it still catches me off guard. Don't take advantage of that fact because that means you're a dick, but also she will start passive aggressively retaliating, like making you come to her to practice your Chinese one on one after class. The tests are the same for every Chinese class so she doesn't really have that much say in what's on them, but she does well to prepare you for them. Her homework is consistent and those quizzes (esp. character quizzes, oh god...) can get annoying but in the end, they're for your own good. I highly recommend her for any Chinese course because she really knows her stuff and is great.
Fall 2013- Elementary Chinese I (C1101 N) Mei-I Chiang was a new professor when I took her class. She is undoubtedly one of the sweetest human beings on this Earth. That being said, the EALAC department in general is overall pretty nice, so I am unsure if Mei-I Chiang stands out amongst the rest in terms of how nice she is. She sticks to the syllabus relatively... however I took the 6:10 PM class which was ultimately only 6-9 people (some dropped out leaving us with 6) and we were able to convince her on multiple occasions to postpone Dictations (that she gave daily). The one thing that she does not/can not change is the date of tests, since those are department wide. From the first couple of days it is IMPERATIVE to start studying the vocabulary and words if you really have no background. This class ends up being 85% in Chinese and it is impossible know what is going on in class if you don't know the words she is using. Mei-I Chiang is really understanding and very flexible and is incredibly sweet, you'll definitely love her instantly. Since I am only in Elementary II now, and I have only had one other EALAC professor, I can say in comparison she is a tad tougher of a grader, but if you do the work at bare minimum, you're bound to get at least a B. I highly doubt the EALAC department even gives out grades lower than that. This department is super lenient and nice.
Professor Wang is quite simply awesome, as all of the other reviews state. I was in her Elementary, not Intermediate, class these past couple of semesters, and she helped me through my initial difficulties with the language rather readily. Always smiling, lighthearted, and understanding, Professor Wang makes an extremely intimidating foreign language seem fun and natural. You will look forward to this class everyday if you take it. If she isn't Gold Nugget quality I'm not sure what is.
I studied with Meng Laoshi as an undergraduate (1st year Chinese) and later as a graduate student (4th year Chinese, aka "Readings in Modern Chinese") at Columbia. This was a while ago (2002 and 2007), though I feel, given the stubbornness of Meng's general character, this review will still be relevant today. I've never been moved to write a review for CULPA, but I'm so alarmed by the reviews here of Meng (how positive they are), and I care deeply about studying Chinese, I felt compelled to write something. I also believe I write from a perspective of useful retrospection and relative objectivity. Students have various intense axes to grind - or total adulation - with or for Meng Laoshi, but it's been years since I've seen or spoken to her, and I feel neither in particular. I've also studied Chinese for many years and speak from some experience. I've studied at the following institutions and have had countless Chinese instructors - Princeton in Beijing, Middlebury Chinese School, ICLP in Taiwan, and IUP in Beijing, in addition to Columbia - and have attained total fluency in the language. I am now currently an assistant professor of Chinese literature and teach Chinese language courses. Finally, I am a non-heritage speaker of Chinese who started "at zero" about ten years ago. I don't think Meng is a good Chinese language teacher and I don't think you should study Chinese with her. When I was at Columbia, there were a number of other outstanding, superior teachers, and I suspect there are still are, and I would recommend working with one of them instead. Meng is an interesting, if not vain, person who has a rather large personality (and I mean this as a compliment), but while these are qualities that make for an enjoyable person to speak to (in English), they are very bad for language instruction. Further, she is quite adept at flattering her students (engaging with them in heated discussions about X or Y topic) and making them feel smart or intellectually challenged (as the positive comments here on CULPA attest to), which are also not good for a language class. My point is this: learning a language, particularly at the introductory levels offered at Columbia (and believe me, up to even Chinese 5 at Columbia is introductory level, you are nowhere near "fluent"), is a mechanical, cognitive process, not an intellectual endeavor. Language class should be fun and interesting, but it should focus on skill development, not intellectual discussion. No one on this board wants to hear this, but it's the truth: you need to spend several years mastering the basics of the language before you can even begin to have an intellectual conversation in Chinese. Chinese 1-4, if not beyond, should prepare you for this goal, not be the end in of itself. Go take a class at BeiDa after completing Chinese 4 at Columbia, and tell me you can even engage your Chinese classmates at even the most rudimentary intellectual or academic level. Here is where Meng falls short. Class is all about her. She speaks too much English in class and during office hours because she is fond of doing so. Instruction should be mostly in Chinese, even when it's over the heads of the student, to acclimate she or he to the sound of constant Chinese. She is full of interesting anecdotes about her life, which can be quite riveting, but it takes away time from the single purpose of Chinese class: speaking and hearing Chinese. She loves to engage her students in serious, heated contemporary issues, such as the "Taiwan wenti," and students might love this, but this is more for her benefit, not yours. You should be spending your precious class time drilling on spoken patterns and improving your tones. Let me not be misunderstood here: Chinese class should not be boring. But you should have no illusions about how hard it is to learn the language for real, and the total rigor of instruction it requires to develop anywhere approaching actual fluency. Ask your friends who study Chinese at Chicago or Princeton. At these far better programs, in my opinion, they spend years drilling and rigorously developing basic skills. And it pays off - these students sound great in Chinese and have real fluency. Meng is flattering her students by making them think they are receiving a quality, demanding Chinese language education when they are not. You're not anywhere near as good she makes you think are or makes you think you will be. Don't wait until you spend an extended period of time in China taking classes in Chinese to discover this. Study with someone else, and if possible, another program in general. Finally, let me say I totally enjoyed my classes with Meng and still find her an utterly charming, likable, engaging person. I just didn't really learn any Chinese from her.
I'll try to be objective here and let you be the judge: 1) Tan laoshi used Courseworks frequently. Students had to submit audio recordings on Courseworks; weekly course schedules were posted on Courseworks; and, oh, there were some wallpapers and other departmental announcements which were also posted via Courseworks. I can't emphasize that word any more. 2) If a professor gives his/her students more assignments than he/she's required, then the professor him/herself will have to bear the extra time to grade the assignments, no doubt. From my past experience, the standard amount of quizzes given by Chinese professors is around 1 quiz per week. Tan laoshi gives 3 quizzes per week with 5 lowest grades dropped. Why would a professor give more quizzes than she's required? Think carefully. 3) The class environment is quite "chillax." There was probably never a day in which I left that class without having laughed at least once. The amount of laughs that other students got varied but I don't think their gain deviated much from mine. 4) Tan laoshi directed learning in such a way that encouraged students to actively collaborate. She came up with activities such as making students ask each other questions using required sentence structures, instructing students to practice the texts/dialogues with a partner or nearby classmate, distributing photocopied money to students so they could practice how to use Chinese in buying/selling situations, etc. 5) If you're absent, Tan laoshi will ask you about it. 6) If you missed a quiz or failed to submit an assignment, you'll need a legitimate reason for make-up. 7) She would randomly call on and ask people questions. (She caught me off-guard a few times and I ended up responding like a lost Martian.) 8) Students respected each other. Nobody would laugh or look down on you if you made mistakes. Life goes on. =)
Not crazy about her... standard Chinese teacher if you know what I mean. Unlike "Western" professors, she doesn't seem to really understand that Chinese is not the only thing we are studying at CU. If you are doing poorly it is because you "are not studying enough." This seems a bit ridiculous to me, just because there is a difference between studying and understanding. Her English is decent, though if you ask her questions she just sort of repeats her former explanation. Clarity is a bit of an issue for her. As a student that is not of Asian descent I felt quite disadvantaged. Many in my class were at least some what familiar with the Chinese language or a derivative of it, so perhaps this is why I had to study about 2x as long as most other students to get the same grade. For my class she didn't use courseworks and sent us assignments on a weekly basis and although she is adorable and adds little pictures and phrases to the assignment sheets it is annoying to not have all of your work and assignments in one place. I wanted to like her but she is a bit too harsh for my taste, I wish she would better grasp the CU situation and know that though Chinese is a priority for all, it is not the only course we are enrolled in.
Zhang Laoshi stepped off of a plane from Beijing not five hours before the first class, so she can be forgiven for being a little disorganized at the beginning of the semester. The good: She's extremely energetic, which is probably the most important thing a language teacher can be. She's also extremely friendly, and (in the areas where she's capable of rendering help) extremely helpful outside of class. Grading is lenient (this seems to be a department-wide thing), and whether out of genuine charity or simply because she can't read the calendar, she's not nearly as despotic as the rest of the department about due dates and late work. The bad: by the end of the semester your Chinese will be better than her English. This is great for forcing you to communicate with her in Chinese, but makes her basically helpless at explaining fine points of grammar (the standard response is "Maybe you should go look at book after class"). The Chinese curriculum here is well-structured enough that her occasional floundering around doesn't wind up being especially detrimental, but the too-frequent moments of chaos and confusion (suddenly-rescheduled homework assignments, accidental pop quizzes, etc) were still frustrating. These became less and less frequent as she started to learn the ropes; if she was a poor teacher at the beginning of the semester and a mediocre one by the end, I wouldn't be surprised if she's pretty good by the end of next semester.
Hu Laoshi is a wonderful teacher who makes learning a difficult language very enjoyable. If you're late she makes you sing in Chinese or dance. Don't take advantage of her kindness or she will know...I haven't met one of my classmates that doesn't cry when they think about having to leave Laoshi's class at the end of the semester.
Absolutely amazing teacher. If you are struggling with Chinese or starting it for the first time, you should definitely take Yan Laoshi's class. Obviously you do not know the particular Chinese professors until the first day of class when the names magically appear on the Directory, however, as soon as you do, go to her section ASAP!!! She is funny, kind, attentive, courteous, approachable, and an excellent ally in the Chinese Language Program. While her lectures can be all over the place and her PowerPoint presentations and grammar explanations vague (though cute), she will spend hours of one-on-one time with you in a non-condescending and truly educational way. Unlike most Chinese professors, she will NEVER make you feel dumb. Simply put, she is a teacher first and foremost. Finally, she makes an effort to weed out the plethora of lying Chinese speachers who register for the N-level sections, sending them quickly to the W-section for Native Speakers. Do WHATEVER you can to take her section; you will NOT regret it!
Tan Laoshi is very energetic, engaging and sweet. She has a good sense of humor, and the little quirky jokes she cracks make learning Chinese a lot more pleasant. The structure of the class itself is difficult, but Tan Laoshi is very understanding, typically, if students are unable to complete a difficult task and usually has no problem extending the date. If nothing else, her little smiles of congratulations and frowns of disappointment will guilt you into learning the language.
A very excellent professor. She has a good sense of humor and a practical approach to teaching the class (ie powerpoints, going through the textbook, etc). The workload is very heavy and its absolutely essential to practice regularly and to be as precise as possible, but its manageable and you do learn a lot. The language textbooks are excellent because the professors tailored it to Columbia students and allows you to build your vocab very consistently; with spring and fall semester's textbooks, flashcards (so-so) and character sheets is only $35 which is not bad at all. In the case that you're having trouble Hu Laoshi is very helpful & understanding & negotiable. Definitely suggest her for Elementary.
Basically: Awesome teacher. I was in her first year of teaching in Columbia and her first year in the States. She's on a two-year teacher-exchange program from Beijing. Her English wasn't too bad, comparable to the other teachers, though not the best. She's very helpful and amiable; you feel comfortable around her. Her slight insecure hesitancy in talking English was always amusing. She has a great sense of humor and got along really well with our class, always accomodating our curious questions which turned into tangents (she usually got back on track after awhile). I felt completely comfortable asking questions (she's not intimidating) and I asked a ton. At the same time she would be clear if she was disappointed in our class and expected better of us in our scores. She really made sure that we understood the concepts and words; she would try and try again until we were no longer confused (ish). She incorporated our feedback very well. After we told her it's helpful to know what individual characters in a phrase or multi-character word mean, she made sure to spend time breaking down characters. She arranged a movie-session after classes were over (Kung Fu Panda) for a last get-together. The Chinese program here in Columbia is just, overall, excellent. The curriculum is carefully designed and rigorous so you really are immersed into all the aspects of Chinese language. My friend who's from China commented that he was amazed at the progress we made in the course of a semester. Within a few weeks we were speaking and reading sentences.
As other reviewers have said, Tai Laoshi is a nice, engaging teacher. She was generally helpful both in class and during her office hours, though there were a couple of times when she clearly got frustrated with certain students in our class when they were struggling. I haven't had any experience with other teachers in the department, but from what I hear, Tai Laoshi is among the best. She is pretty tolerant and helpful when it comes to mistakes (with the above exception), she is good about correcting tones, and her English is excellent. One minor complaint about Tai Laoshi was her tendency to call more on those who had a greater mastery of Chinese, rather than on those who needed more practice. As a result, those who were more comfortable with the language got more practice in class and became even more comfortable with the language, while a few others were left quietly in the corners. And class time is 100% oral practice. All character work is done through homework. Keep in mind that while Chinese isn't necessarily more difficult than other language classes, it takes more time. When they say two to three hours a day, they really mean it. You can try to skate by with less, but once you fall behind, it's nearly impossible to catch up because the class moves pretty fast.
I thought Yan Ling was a good instructor for this course. I've decided to stick with her for the second semester of the elementary course, actually. She is friendly, very good at getting people to speak up, and in general explains things pretty well. Sometimes she doesn't understand the implications of the questions that people in class ask... as is natural with people teaching their own language to foreigners. However she seems to have enough teaching experience to anticipate where the problems are going to come up. I thought this course was not divinely inspiring or academically riveting, but you get through a lot of chinese.
I thought Yan Ling was a pretty good instructor for this course. I've decided to stick with her for the second semester of the elementary course, actually. She is friendly, very good at getting people to speak up, and in general explains things pretty well. Sometimes she doesn't understand the implications of the questions that people in class ask... as is natural with people teaching their own language to foreigners. She seems to have enough teaching experience to anticipate where the problems are going to come up. I thought this course was not divinely inspiring or academically riveting, but by god you get through a lot of chinese.
Tai Laoshi is a sweet, young, engaging, and talented Chinese instructor. Her English is probably one of the best among the Elementary Chinese instructors, and her slight accent was endearing and no barrier to communication at all. She is able to explain vocabulary and grammar so that everyone understands. She talks with students outside class despite being very busy like all the Chinese instructors are. She was even nice enough to take us out to Chinatown (Joe's Shanghai) for delicious soup buns/dumplings towards the end of the term. The grading is the same no matter which section you're in. It's extremely lenient (we're talking 0.1-0.5 points off for most mistakes on tests out of 100), so if you do all the work (there's a lot of it), it's an easy A. I've had such a good experience with the Chinese department that I'm going to Beijing this summer for Columbia's Summer Language Program. I think I may get Tai Laoshi again for Intermediate Chinese during the summer, and I'm really excited to be in her class again. You really can't go wrong with the Chinese department at Columbia, and Tai Laoshi is certainly no exception.
Tai Laoshi is great. She is understanding, likable and prepares a lot for every class. Everybody I know enjoyed her class a lot because she is so nice. She is a great teacher to introduce you to this very difficult language.
Qi Laoshi is good at getting you to learn the material and she brings up grammar and vocabulary beyond the lectures. Instead of going over flash cards or reciting the text, she will often ask thought provoking questions. She starts with an all-business attitude to scare you into studying and being prepared for a challenging class, but she softens up over the semester. Tests are quite hard, but she gives a generous curve.
Wang Laoshi is the best language teacher I have ever had in my life. Not only does she make a genuinely boring powerpoint (used by the whole Chinese department) seem interesting by filling it in with stories and cultural anecdotes, she was also extremely kind. She invited her students to office hours for additional help and speaking practice. Try to get her as your teacher!
Wang Lao Shi is a very lenient and understanding professor with a decent english-speaking skill. She cares about her students very much and welcomes them to her office hours. Like the previous review says, she makes learning chinese easy for non-chinese speaking students. I love when she speaks chinese with enlgish in the same sentence..she is very fun and joyous to be around with..take her class, she'll also teach u the chinese smiley faces.
At first I iffy about the course since Guan laoshi told the class that she came to America about two weeks before the semester started. I think that this point scared away some students on the first day because she doesnÂ’t really know how to speak English. Sometimes itÂ’s difficult to understand her English but the class always ends up understanding it in the end in one way or another. I think that because we are sort of forced to communicate in Chinese with her we gradually become better at the language. During drill sessions, students from other classes seem to be a bit behind and sometimes just donÂ’t understand the questions the TA asks. Guan laoshi is a really nice lady that always wears a smile on her face. I think that our class has a lot of fun, I really enjoyed the course. PowerPoints are departmental; every class has the some one I think. It gets quite boring reading the things on the PowerPoints over and over again. But I guess the so much drilling made things easier.
She is just about the sweetest teacher I've ever had. She made learning Chinese a breeze most of the time and she's very understanding. I encourage anyone and everyone who wants to take a Chinese course to try and get her. She's absolutely adorable and is pretty easy-going with deadlines.
I'm basically just writing this review in response to whoever was ignorant enough to say Meng teaches as if she's a Communist in China or whatever it was. Yes Meng and the department does expect people to memorize, but hello! If you're trying to learn a language, don't you think it's pretty darn important to know some vocabulary? Meng is a GREAT, AWESOME, FANTASTIC professor so pay attention to the reviews that make sense. You have to work hard in her class but it's definitely manageable. She's the best and I really wish I could have taken more classes with her.
Li Laoshi was an amazing instructor who really cared that we learn everything. The class was taught around a table, so we spoke to each other and to her. She's very gentle and friendly with the students, and gives up her time to help you at office hours anytime you need it. She also takes an interest in how you are doing individually, and will bring up concerns she might have with your progress. Her Powerpoint lectures are helpful and always available online within the week they were presented. Studying those is a key to doing well - as is memorizing the presentations well. If you're looking for cold and business-like, don't take her class. Otherwise, you'll learn a whole lot of Chinese and have a lot of fun, too. Our class almost wholly returned from the first semester, and we're like a little family now. Li Laoshi also teaches in the Summer in Beijing program.
If you have no prior background in Chinese, you will take Meng laoshi's class and get your ass kicked. This is a good thing. This woman is dead, dead serious about the Chinese language, and her classes are a labor of love - for her, and hopefully for you too. Like any rigorous training experience, exhaustion will yield to pleasant surprise at how much your language has improved. In fourth-year, she made the textbook herself with rich and fascinating readings that are way, way too hard for the average student; however, they are perfectly suited to her teaching style, which combines mastery of English, Chinese, and patience to make students fully understand the finer points of vocabulary despite the difficulty. If there was ever a good way to have the linguistic shit kicked out of you - as Chinese so often feels like to those with no prior experience - this is definitely it. Only take Meng laoshi if you really care about learning the language - if you don't, you'll be wasting both her time and yours.
very nice teacher, tries very hard to make sure you understand. She loves to answer questions and she is very quirky. I just love her, even though class sometimes is a little boring but she makes it so funny when we go off topic sometimes. very standard chinese class, powerpoint slides for our lessons and she just explains them. participation here and there and a few acting out scenes. She loves to do scenes and make you present in class
Professor Kong is a good instructor, dedicated to her material, knowledgable, considerate. Perhaps most importantly, she listens to student feedback; when we complained she was killing us on tests because she talked too fast (she herself admits to talking fast even for a native speaker) she slowed down the next time around. She also let us have shorter drill sections. Very reasonable with grading too. Just plan to keep up, the pace is brisk. A good teacher though,
Yan Laoshi has to be the best teacher I've had at Columbia so far. She drills us incessantly on the vocabulary and grammmar, but she is always willing to answer any questions we have. She spent the first week of class teaching us tones & for the rest of the semester will point out even the slightest mistake in our speaking. But what really makes the class is her quirky personality and unique sense of humor that brings an amazing livelihood to the class. If you're planning on taking Elementary or Intermediate Chinese, definitely look for prof. yan!
I have taken Chinese with Qi Laoshi for a whole year now. After my first semester with her, I built my spring schedule around her class. If I were less serious about taking Chinese, however, I would be out of there in a second. As most of the reviews mention, she can be intimidating at first. I remember that the first few weeks of class, most students arrived 5-10 minutes early just not to show up late to her class! Her teaching style was equally intimidating. She will call you on to speak, and then she will stare at you silently while you fumble for an answer. She does not easily forgive a dumb mistake. Later, though, she relaxes. Contrary to what she says at the beginning of the year, she does accept late homeworks. You cannot make up a missed quiz, but neither do you get a zero for it (it simply doesn't average in). As for the workload, I don't really know how it compares to other teachers, since I have absolutely no interest in learning Chinese with another teacher. However, I do find myself studying about 2 hours a day for Chinese just to keep up, even when I don't do homework for any other class. On the other hand, whenever I am in my weekly drill session with students from other classes, I am surprised at how much less fluent their Chinese is, and I am sure I will get another A in the class.
Really nice and quirky teacher who actually knows how to speak English. She is always willing to answer even the most nit-pickiest of questions about the slight nuances of the Chinese language. She stresses pronounciation and tones a lot and will correct you for the slightest of errors. But your pronounciation will improve a ton. She will drill you on the grammar until you know it in your sleep.
Hsiao Laoshi is caring, funny, and engaging; all qualities essential to an instructor teaching a beginning language course. Be warned, she will seem a bit air-headed, but mostly its only an act, and deep inside she is a sincere, serious and caring woman who takes care to involve even the most reserved student. She keeps strictly to the text which is helpful for exams (which, written all in characters can be overwhelming at first), but she doesn't let you realize that during class with exercises that not only reivew, but regurgitate in a new way what was covered in the corresponding unit. Ask her a question, and she will give you an answer in caring detail; however make sure you give her a clear question as she isn't exactly fluent in English, and misunderstandings may occur. She may sound harsh sometimes, but thats only part of her sarcastic humor. The only complaint about this class is the number of people who were already competent in basic Mandarin skills who were taking this class. I don't know if it was only my section, but at least half of the class was comprised of such individuals. Fortunately this class isn't graded on a curve, but that's not the point; they made it worse for everyone. They could offer help, but they just slept through class, stuck together during group assignmentsm and dissed the other "beginners"--let me point out to you that this class is MEANT for absolute beginners, so if you run into one of these guys, don't panic.
If you want to learn Chinese, this is the professor for you. Qi laoshi brings to the Chinese department a very structured and effective program that will get you into the language while learning at fast pace. She may come off as strict but this is necessary to motivate students and keep them engaged as much as possible with such a difficult language. Qi laoshi is kind-hearted and cares a lot about each individual student's progress. Definitiely make use of her willingness to meet students outside of class as she is not only a great teacher but a great person as well.
Qi Laoshi is a great teacher. She was really strict at first, so do not be frightened away in the beginning. She really cares about her students and their progress. She is very organized with her lesson plans and posts everything you need to know on CourseWorks. I would highly recommend taking her class.
Professor Qi is a wonderful teacher. She has high expectations of her students but at the same time is extremely understanding and approachable. Her classes are very organized and she tries to make them fun and liven them up a bit with pictures to accompany the lessons and by encouraging each student to participate. She posts weekly plans so students always know what will be covered in class and what assignments will be due, and she also posts quiz plans that state exactly what students need to know for each quiz (which occur twice a week). Chinese is hard, but with professor Qi it is both manageable and fun.
I love her computer screen teaching! She is always willing to answer questions after class. She teaches a little slowly, but that's ok too.
Man I don't know where this latest "Meng is only good for kids with background" idea is coming from... First of all kids with Mandarin background are supposed to be taking the W track and thus won't be in her N classes at all. Secondly, I am as white and unchinese as possible but I love Meng Laoshi and after two more years of Chinese, including a summer in Beijing, she is still the best teacher I've had. The only people who her class would not be good for is people who don't want to put in the effort required to learn a notoriously difficult language (2-3 hrs per day, 4 days/week). She is different from most columbia professors in that she doesn't try to make whining students feel like it is all her fault and not their fault for slacking, but she's perfectly reasonable in her expectations and i and my other non-chinese co-students had great fun with her and developed a very strong base of chinese.
Reviews of Meng Laoshi seem to fall into the category of either 'Meng hater' or "Meng lover' which can be confusing for someone reading these posts. My opinion is that there are three different types of student who take this first-year language class, and depending on which one you fit in, you will definitely either love or hate Meng Laoshi. I'll give you my spin on these types, and hopefully you can figure out if she is the right teacher for you. Because it's important, and will totally determine your chinese learning experience. Three types of people enroll in this class: (1) kids who grew up with chinese in the house, and can speak either a lot of a little, but can't read (2) kids who already know another Asian language, such as Korean, and (3) kids who are totally new to Chinese, and have no background in either (1) or (2). If you belong to category 3, and I want to make this very clear, you will learn 3-4 times slower than the kids in the first two groups. Language teachers and linguistics have shown this, and it just makes sense. This shouldn't be a reason to get discouraged or not want to study chinese - in fact, you'll work harder, improve faster than the other kids, and will get more excited about the language. Also, as someone who has already completed 2nd year Chinese, I can say if you work hard and stick with it, you'll be kicking those other kids' ass by the end of 2nd year, which I am now. So, what is important about first year, if you belong to group (3), is a teacher who understands the different backgrounds of students, and someone who will help you not feel frustrated or stupid, because you are OF COURSE learning slower than the kids with either family backgrounds or another Asian language background. This is REALLY important, because especially in the first year, everything will be so new, you'll often feel like you can't do it, if all these other kids are seemingly finding it so incredibly easy. THIS IS NORMAL and you shouldn't give up, because a year's worth of hard work will make up the difference. Also, if you study hard, you can definitely earn an A, even with the other kids' having a great advantage. It's no a curved grade class - just do your work and you'll be totally fine. As for Meng: Meng is the embodiment of the teacher who only is interested in her students who already have some background in Chinese or another Asian language, and will make the students who don't have this feel inadequate and dumb. In fact, this is so idiotic because one's background has no bearing on one's intelligence. I simply cannot understand why Meng favors the students who simply already can either read characters or speak Chinese; the only explanation is that she is an easily frustrated and lazy teacher, who doesn't want to help students who actually need it. Examples: in class, she will often cut off a struggling student, regardless of how hard they are trying, and ask a student who already knows how to speak chinese, to read a passage. Invariably she will call on a student that she, for instance, SPEAKS TO IN CHINESE after class, and a student who so clearly grew up with Chinese in the house, often speaking it. Also, once we wrote essays for a homework assignment, and Meng read a section from a particularly good one, praising its "fluency" and naturalness. Now, this is fine, except for the fact that this student already is fluent in chinese, and thus, will not find it hard to write an essay that is idiomatically correct when he or she has grown up with it. Meng made the rest of us feel inadequate because we couldn't do this - but frankly, after only 9 WEEKS of class, it would have been impossible for any of the rest of us to write a fluent essay. Obviously. Meng simply doesn't register these differences. She simply does not account for different backgrounds, which again, I feel is beyond idiotic. But again, none of this should keep you from studying chinese if you fall into category (3). Just don't do it with Meng - there are MANY other teachers who teach Chinese 1, who treat all students the same, and go out of their way to help students who are struggling with the inevitable problem of learning a new script language, if you are coming to it totally new. You will not feel stupid or inadequate - rather you will work hard, because your teacher will show you that it's the only way to learn the langauge. Finally, if you do fall into category of (1) or (2), I'd watch out also. You might get rather complacent with your advatnage, and bask too much in Meng's glowing praise of you, which is something you have only earned through either accident of birth or accident of former study. You may get lazy and not work hard enough. I can say, now in Chinese 3, all of those kids are paying now, having fallen behind kids like me, who struggled first year and got flustered by Meng Laoshi, but now am doing far better than the kids who grew up with it. Meng will make you feel smart when you haven't earned it, and may in fact keep you from working hard enough to get good at the language. You'll pay later if you fall into this situation Meng creates.
Meng might be nice to those kids that are already fluent in Chinese, seeming to issue them wonderful little secret comments in Chinese, that are well beyond the scope of the class, but to everybody else--people that actually try to challenge themselves and learn something new in college--in my opinion she's rude, belittling and impatient. This is especially true if you are struggling with the class. She simply refuses to clarify any grammar rules or sentence structure in English, even outside of the classroom. And she complements said refusals with wonderful pearls of wisdom such as: "maybe should you study more," and "maybe should try easier language."
Li laoshi is a nice, understanding person. However, the class is only boderline tolerable. Li spends most of the class struggling over how to communicate grammar ideas, homework assignments, and test/quiz info. As a result, things are often misconstrued, and many people come to class clueless. Li's engish skills just aren't good enough to be teaching an introductory level course. Try to take another teacher. Consistent with the entire Chinese department, many people already have a background in the language, so it makes it more difficult to begin.
Pretty strict... makes you recite the presentation almost everyday! the dictation's not so bad, since after a while she just makes you dictate sentences without needing pinyin. She gives a lot of extra hw. if it weren't about time constraints, I wouldn't take her.
Zhao Laoshi is a new, really nice teacher from Beijing. Although her English isn't the best, she's willing to spend extra time to explain complicated grammar and clear up misunderstandings in class and office hours. She also tries really hard - for the final, she made a huge review packet that covered all the material for the semester for us. I recommend her to anyone who wants to take her class for Elementary Chinese - the grammar isn't ridiculously difficult, so her English impediment wouldn't be such an obstacle unlike what the reviewers in Intermediate Chinese said (not that I think it's THAT bad anyway).
Meng Laoshi is a really great teacher who I would highly highly highly recommend! She is aggressive with getting everyone in the class to participate, and encourages all of us to share little bits of our lives so all the students learn a lot about each other over the course of the semester. Meng also tries to use Chinese as often as possible -- intermingled with her English sentences, telling us stories about herself -- so that it is very simple to pick up a good handful of extra vocabulary. She repeatedly drills to make sure we grasp the material well. Most importantly, Meng is the one who makes up the homework sheets and tests (including the final!) so it is very beneficial to have her during the term.
She is amazing. I took this class my first semester as a freshman and was definitely intimidated for the first couple weeks. BUT, staying in the class was the best thing I did all semester. She makes coming to class enjoyable... she is really in tune with her students and tries to keep thins exciting for them. (She even admits to reading CULPA- what a smart lady!) The class is hard, but it's the type of thing where whatever you put in is multiplied by Meng laoshi's teaching genius.
hsu laoshi is a nice, funny lady. she seems to genuinely like teaching the class and the students as well. her english skills are better than most, but still limited. because of this, learning grammar concepts in class is difficult, but as long as you buy the recommended english/pinyin book, you will do fine. she is a lenient grader (until you get your final grade, at least), doesn't mind tardiness or when you turn in work (within reason).
She is a gem of a language teacher. She makes it almost impossible not to understand the concepts, and she brings cultural aspects to the language. I would definitely recommend her to anyone who wants to take Chinese.
ok DON"T listen to the other reviewers, Meng Laoshi is AMAZING!!! She is somewhat prim and certainly expects a lot of work from her students, but the payoff is more than worth it- I'm in intermediate Chinese now and Meng's former students are MUCH better prepared than most of the other students in the class. She presents material very clearly and is a bottomless well of enthusiasm and support for her students... many times I have gone to ask her a question in her office and ended up talking to her for an hour about any number of things related or unrelated to chinese. I don't know what the other reviewers were thinking, maybe they meant to review a different professor... Meng is an exciting, fun, and extremely effective way to learn Chinese. In addtion her classes develop a real sense of community; many of us still greet eachother in chinese on college walk.
How adorable is this woman! I came into the class with no background on the language at all, and I've learned so much! She's an excellent teacher who makes the class really interesting. Her english has never been a problem with my class, and she relates rather well to us. Extremely understanding and sweet - she won't make you feel stupid if you screw up a bit. Take her class before she returns to Taiwan!
If it seems like she's being mean, it's because she has to be tough in order to get students through such an intense language course. Basically, if you're willing to put in a reasonable amount of time each night, the class shouldn't be too bad and may be quite enjoyable, especially if you're in a small class. On that note, I strongly advise that you switch into a smaller section so you get more individual attention. Okay so her english isn't the greatest but she's got enough down to get her point across so any student with half a brain should still sort of understand. Plus, she always tells you what to expect on a quiz or a test, like the types of questions that will be asked. If you do well, it would be worth every darn point you get for this course.
Meng laoshi is not only the best Chinese teacher I've ever had (and I've had many), but she's also the best instructor I've had at Columbia and one of the best I've ever had anywhere. This is my advice for beginners: If you're serious about learning the language, take here Beginning Chinese class! She acts very tough (even mean) the first couple of weeks to scare away those who aren't serious. However, she actually has a heart of gold. Her classes were fun, engaging and challenging. I'm a pretty lazy student, but with her, I learned the language despite myself. She is one of the few faculty members at Columbia who takes a genuine interest in her students. She is extemely supportive and encouraging and always makes time for her students. Through her enthusiasm and confidence in me, she was single-handedly responsible for making me love the Chinese language and continue so far in my studies of it. Don't miss out on an opportunity to study with her - I only wish I had more!
Meng Laoshi is one of the best teachers I've ever had. When I first entered her class in the fall, I was very intimidated by her. She seemed very strict and intense. However, that was just a facade. I guess she just wanted to make sure all the students taking the class really wanted and be there and would be willing to put in the effort. The beginning of the second semester, when new students joined our class, she told them that she was very tough. She scared a handful of them away but all those who stayed with her had a great time the rest of the year. But that scarey side of her quickly faded. She is strict because she wants all her students to learn chinese and to do well. She is truely dedicated, making extra handouts and review sheets for us. All her students can vouch that she really enjoys teaching and puts a lot of effort into her students. She has a great style of teaching, engaging us in personal conversations while using grammar patterns that we need to learn. Thus, it doesn't seem like drilling and force learning, more like conversing and getting to know one another. However, don't expect not to work. First semester quizzes are not that tough since the vocabulary and grammar structures are still fairly simple. However, second semester, the work gets tougher. But the format is still the same. Everyday I looked forward to attending Chinese class with Meng Laoshi. But it really helps if your class gets a long well and has great chemistry!
I don't know what the rest of the reviews are talking about but that woman was rude with me. I'd admit I wasn't her top student but she did do some things I found "wrong" in the academic field. One time after a quiz, she opened up by book and said in front of the whole class, "so quick?" she glances and then says "looks like someone studied." Maybe it's just me but I feel she was harsher on me because I am Chinese and I wasn't one of her best students, she probably expected more from me. I got frustrated when she would comment on my accents and not the accents of other non-Asian students, I know my accent was better. She even gave me a grade below what I needed to enter second level Chinese, what a b*.
Wang Laoshi is great and her class is very organized. You learn a lot in this class and she does not exaggerate the tones at all. She is a very fair teacher and very friendly. I took Chinese with her in the Fall and I'm in her class again this Spring. I schedule my Spring Schedule just so I could have Wang laoshi. If you are planning to take Chinese, Wang laoshi is definitely one of the best. I highly recommend her.
He is a good teacher in that he knows how to present the words of the language for the students to learn. He paces the class well and you will learn if you do his work. That said, I must say that this man has some of the characteristics that create for a poor human being. He thinks he has a good strict style, but that kind of teaching style belongs back in elementary school, or communist china where disciplining students is part of a teacher's job. He continually targets students he does not like in class, especially the ladies of the class. No matter how hard they are trying, he continually mocks them and belittles them in front of everyone in the class. (This is all my opinion, of course) This, I feel detracts from his overall teaching ability.
Meng Laoshi is said to be one of the best teachers of chinese and i think that is true. When she came into the classroom the first time this semester, she started counting us in Chinese and repeated this procedure at the beginning of every lesson, which is why i didnt have to learn the numbers once we got there. strangely, she gave this habit up aftter the lesson with the numbers. very natural teaching style, you can pick up a lot if you want to. english is one of her second lan guages, which is sometimes very entertainin g.. she is very funny and encourages you to be creative. sometimes students act out some scene from the textbook, but she sometimes doesnt follow the prompt on purpose, which is great b/c you have to improvise in chinese... oh, yeah- she thinks she is strict: quiz every day, but you only have to translate from chinese to english, n ot the other way around. overall, an excellent teacher and definitely the right choice if you wish to learn chinese.
There are two types of people that take this intro class. The first type is the people who have grown up speaking Chinese and are conversational in the language. The second type is the people who are true newcomers to the language. If you are of the second type: DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. You will be in the vast minority (2 beginners my semester), and the class is catered to native speakers. Prof. Hsu has very limited English skills, which makes her unable to field questions or provide much help. She is a very kind woman, but is ill-prepared to teach a class to non-native speakers.
A great teacher. If you put in the work you will definitely do well. But i would not recommend this class if you are not willing to put in the 1-2 hours every day. But if you are looking to learn chinese, Meng is the teacher you want.
Meng Laoshi is a good, disciplined, structured teacher. She expects her students to work and if you if you don't, you can expect to fall maddeningly behind. She is a little intimidating and impatient with students and answering their questions, but offsets this by a good sense of humor. It's a good course to learn first year Chinese.
Explained most of the material clearly, but was hardly inspiring. And if you want to speak Chinese instead of just read it, you're going to have to put in the effort on your own, because class is amost entirely in English.
Wang is definitely a stickler to the rules. Expect to follow the established syllabus of the Columbia University Chinese department rigorously. The bottom line is if you do your work, you'll learn. And if you work hard at it, you'll get a fair grade. Can't complain too much and can't praise all that much either. She is a cutie though!