Does not teach vocab Does not teach grammar Assigns difficult homework that uses grammar rules inconsistent with the textbook Overly cranky and gets borderline temperamental at students over small things Low key rude to students in class Cold calls on people in the class and will pick on you if you're struggling My way or the highway sorta fella Yells at students when we can't follow his confusing and unclear instructions Made us talk about (personally) uncomfortable/borderline triggering topics Sometimes funny in class though Thinks people should expect that George Washington is still alive 'nuff said
Awful! He was my professor during quarantine, Fall 2020. Just wowww. Tons of students were struggling due to a number of factors (probably due to the worldwide pandemic). Fran's response: constant threats, taunts, and escalation measures to put the pressure firmly on you. He is terrible at responding to emails and makes it clear that if you do not meet his erratic bar, it is on you. He favors the students who came into his class already speaking multiple languages and is openly perturbed with students that are nervous to participate. He skipped one class per week, no complaints until he puts the entire missing burden on you. He desperately needs to learn how to be more respectful and patient with his students. AVOID HIM, flat-out
His teaching style is all over the place. I wouldn't even consider what he does is 'teaching.' He doesn't give you slides or anything and his notes are just scribbles all over the board. Fran is incredibly disorganized and honestly really mean. Whatever you do DON'T TAKE HIS CLASS. I dreaded going to class everyday and he's one of the worst professors I have ever had.
I took this professor for Elementary Spanish I and Intermediate II. I learned so much from him, possibly more in Elementary I with this professor than in Elementary II and Intermediate I with other professors combined. He is a great professor and genuinely nice person. He explains things in a way that makes sense in real life contexts. One of the best teachers I've ever had, but his class isn't necessarily easy.
I took Elementary Spanish II with Fran in Fall 2017. My Spanish did not improve even a little bit, and he spent most classes going off on strange linguistic tangents. Additionally, he gave little to no guidance for our final project. My group and I handed in our final project and we returned to school for the next semester to find that he was not pleased with any of the projects from the entire class and he gave us the option to redo the project for full points back. He ended up giving me an incomplete as a "placeholder" until he put in the final grade, apparently unaware that incompletes are permanent on Barnard transcripts, and I had to go to CPAS to get the incomplete removed. I needed his approval for CPAS to consider my petition and he waited until 10 minutes before his approval was needed by CPAS to send in any information, even though I had been emailing him once a day for two weeks. Additionally, we are nearing the end of Spring 2018 semester and he still has not graded our final project or input a final grade for the class for my fellow group members and me. One of my group members was unable to apply to a scholarship because of the blank on his transcript because of this class. I have repeatedly tried to get ahold of Fran and he keeps dodging my emails. His behavior has been so unprofessional and disrespectful of his students' time. DO NOT TAKE ANY CLASS WITH HIM!
This is the most honest assessment of Fran I can give. I will begin with umbrella statements regarding what types of students will like him and those who will not. If you are not very organized and do not like to plan your workload across days/weeks/months/semester, you will probably get along with Fran. He is, without doubt, the most disorganized professor I have had at Columbia. In short, he is a hot mess. He rarely has a lesson plan (unless you consider coming to class only to have him put on youtube videos whilst assigning you group work from the book covering material you have not seen yet a lesson plan). I am a very organized person (homework syllabus, study schedule, etc.) and his class and his personality does not mesh well with those like me. One might think only an organized person would have success in a class such as his, but his lack of foresight and nebulous due dates makes for a miserable experience. Simlarly, if you require structure and honest assessment, Fran is not for you. We have tangentially touched on the lack of structure, but I would be remiss if I did not reinforce the fact that Fran does not have a plan for you. He jumps around, sometimes going between chapters in successive lessons. Additionally, he is known to change assignment dates and assign substantial work hours before it is due, which leads into him not giving you honest assessment. That is, he grades generously. Now, this could be because he is a nice guy (undeniably so), but I think the bigger factor is that he has low expectations for you. Thus, those who desire to learn the language, or at least feel comfortable using it outside his classroom, ought not take Fran. Those who do not wish to put in at least 3-5 hours a day on Spanish should not take Fran. Typically, you could get by with an hour or two a day, but with Fran, you need to make up for what he lacks. This is to say you will have to teach yourself the grammar and syntax as he prefers to place you in groups and focus on conversational Spanish (useful, to a point). Without these additional hours, exams will be a nightmare. Thus, those who are disorganized, noncommitted, and desire dishonest assessment, you will get along with Fran. I have found those with substantial Spanish exposure will due well with him because you can do the one thing he emphasizes: speaking in Spanish. Sadly, honest beginners (those who should be in Elem I and II) will find themselves lost in his course. Additional tidbits: Fran missed four days of class during this past semester, which the astute Columbia Spanish student will recognize as one more than what the department allows before it deducts a full letter grade from your final grade. Three of these instances were without explanation. That is, we showed up to class to find a "substitute" who had no idea where he was in his lessons. One time, he sent us an email with about 15 pages of grammar work, which he did not teach us, plus a 200 word writing assignment at 4pm the afternoon before it was due at 840 the next morning. Sure, we did it, but we did not get anything out of it. The worst part of it is he left town and missed that class and the one after it after saying all this was due. Why assign all this work for the next day if he knew he would not be there to check it (one of my classmates saw him with his suitcase leaving campus a half hour after he sent the email)? He finally got around to checking it two weeks later, and by checking it I mean he put the answers up on his powerpoint. That is, something we could get from the back of the grammar book. Conclusion: Fran, simply put, is a nice man, but please do not let this allow you to believe he is a desirable professor. I can only recommend Fran for students who have significant exposure to Spanish, those who do not like structure, and those who just want to satisfy the core.
Fran was a great Spanish professor in my eyes. Some of the other students in the class felt differently, but to me, I felt that I learned a lot. Fran places a huge emphasis on spoken Spanish, and I felt that I improved by leaps and bounds conversationally in this class. That said, my grammar didn't improve as much, since he spends less time going over that (and because his notes on the board are super messy), but I didn't mind, and still found the class fulfilling for because my speech improved so much. Fran is a super smart guy--he speaks perfect English, Gallego, Portuguese, Spanish and French (maybe Catalan too? Can't remember), but he doesn't hold the class to his (admittedly ridiculous standard). The bar is set pretty low for grades, and I got pretty much a perfect score despite being far from a perfect student. That said, I took advantage of the class, and I feel that I learned a lot from it. Also, Fran has a sweet accent and is a killer dresser. That's two plusses in my book.
The negative comments below may work to the advantage of students who ultimately choose to take Fran's section. Fran is really an exceptional educator - not a lecturer or instructor mind you, but an educator - and this really comes through in small classes. Fran's approach is to teach you Spanish for the language's sake. Contrast this with lecturers who teach for an exam or otherwise rigidly follow a textbook or check-list. Fran places heavy emphasis on spoken Spanish, expecting everyone to participate without being overbearing or intimidating. On the contrary, Fran is exceptionally sympathetic and patient. He reviews grammar in class but expects students to have familiarized themselves with the topics at home. He is widely read and surprisingly knowledgeable and is willing to let conversations flow where they will. Nonetheless, he does review and assign materials in the curriculum, as he is obliged to do, and one does not feel under prepared for exams. Fran is a soft-spoken, deeply thoughtful, and invested educator. He is the best language educator I've had the pleasure of studying under and would highly recommend him to anyone looking to substantially enhance their grasp of the Spanish language.
Fran is a very sincere and genuine person. In class, he is really interested in his students learning how to speak and communicate effectively in Spanish. When it comes to actually teaching grammar, vocab, etc.. he does not spend that much time on those things in class, and rapidly brushes by them in his powerpoint slides. This is a great class if you want to converse, but the midterm/final will end up being mostly self-study because he speaks very rapidly and it is hard to understand him. (95% of what he says is in Spanish, while some other Spanish teachers us a lot of English while explaining concepts, which is more effective at this level since we are still only in Spanish 2). As far as work is concerned, he is very lenient and the only things he really checks are the compositions and the myspanishlabs. As far as grading, he really looks for improvement in the course, and at the end of the semester, he changed some of the past composition grades/participations grade to give you the higher overall course grade, which I thought was very fair since he graded kind of harshly in the beginning. I am little concerned about going on to the next level, since I did not really learn that much in class (it is very hard to understand and learn EVERYTHING in Spanish-even definitions of vocab were provided in Spanish, and some students did not understand the words used to define the first vocab word, preventing the students from actually learning the word- at some points just saying the English definition is better, but Fran strongly tries to incorporate as much Spanish as possible, which should be save for a higher level Spanish course).
I think the other reviewers here were put off by Fran's somewhat unorthodox style, which is definitely unlike those of the other language professors I've encountered here. Instead of lecturing for the majority of the class and requiring students to participate during certain activities, Fran's class is casual and conversational. He does strongly encourage participation, and is willing to restructure class if a fruitful discussion is going on. I don't see any problem with this. If you are in fact trying to learn to communicate in another language, you actually have to speak it. In terms of the organization of the class: he puts a calender up on courseworks at the beginning of the semester which he follows pretty closely. I guess If you're used to professors who holds your hand and remind you multiple times about every due-date, it can be a bit of an adjustment. Otherwise, you'll be fine. If you do miss something, he's very forgiving about deadlines. If you want to chill on your phone while getting the language requirement out of the way, take another section. If you actually want to practice your Spanish, give him a chance.
Honestly, this is the first and last time I will ever write a review on a professor again but Fran is the worst professor I have had at Columbia. He is a nice guy but he does not explain things well at all and no one ever knows what's going on in class. He really makes you participate and randomly call on you and will take it as an insult if you don't talk in class. He is very frantic with everything he does and talks extremely fast. It is honestly a waste of time when you walk into class. Seriously, DON'T TAKE THIS CLASS!
Run! This professor is probably the worst you could have. He is extremely nice and he tries so hard but he just really cannot teach. For me, this was the worst combination because I was constantly trying not to get annoyed or frustrated that I didn't understand anything. I thought my inability to learn Spanish was something I was doing, but really, I wasn't learning because he just flat-out wasn't teaching. Fran is extremely unorganized and a bird-brain. He never tells you what is due or when it is due, and the he gets mad at you when you don't turn whatever it is in. Also, I know this is hard to control, but his accent makes it almost impossible to understand him both when he is speaking English and Spanish. I feel bad for writing such a bad review because Fran is such a nice guy, but honestly, I learned nothing and I'm really worried about how I will do in the next level because of it.