Verne Moberg

May 2010

I cannot warn anyone strongly enough against taking a class with Verne Moberg. There is not a single redeeming thing to be said about her style of instruction or general disposition. I will address both in that order. Verne Moberg teaches through fear and abuse. This might be acceptable if she had anything worthwhile to say about her material, but alas, she does not. More often than not, her classes consisted of busy work like videos or reading the texts assigned as homework aloud. She also enjoyed berating students for anything she perceived to be an error in pronunciation or grammar, even when she could be proven wrong. Indeed, her style of lecturing consists of identifying all the ways in which she is superior to you, and then berating the students until you are forced to agree. In terms of a language class, she offered no more insight than if I had read the assigned books at home. I cannot imagine anyone who could find her behavior charming. Verne Moberg is extraordinarily critical and perhaps the surliest person I have ever met. She is also utterly unpredictable: you might be speaking pleasantly for the first hour of a class, until suddenly she turns on you and tries to embarrass you in front of your classmates. Do not make the mistake, however, of assuming that these are just “moods.” Verne Moberg seems to have a photographic memory for every slight she has ever suffered: real or perceived. She will never forgive your transgressions against her sense of propriety. These will affect your grade, and there is no way to fix them. There is no way to win with Verne Moberg. You cannot make her like you, so do not even try. She already hates you. She has nothing to say about the material she offers her students and covers this by attempting her embarrass her students at every turn. This should strike you as behavior best left for kindergarten, yet it is actively permitted within Columbia’s Germanic Languages Department. Take this class only at your own risk.

May 2010

DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE unless you don't care about grades and really want to learn the language. Everything said below is true. She is mean-spirited, even cruel, and completely unpredictable. This course was a constant source of dread for me as she is an incredible pain to work with, rude, and in general eager to pull you down to her miserable state. I am usually a pretty positive person I think, but this class brought me down in every way. It is amazing that my love of the Swedish language has survived her merciless grasp. By the end I was completely burnt out by her ridiculous demands, and if I sound bitter it's because I am. I'M TRYING TO SAVE YOU FROM THIS STATE. She's awful to say the least. Most of the class time was a complete waste. Instead of drilling vocabulary or doing exercises or even speaking in the language, she just tells a story in Swedish and you stare blankly with no idea what's been said, and then she repeats it in English. If you're up for an unhappy and hateful woman with a few experiences to fill the two hours every other day with story-time, by all means. Go for it.

Jan 2009

This was supposed to be my favorite class. I looked forward to taking Swedish and learning the language. However, this class has made this experience a complete pain. I continue to labor through to try and learn the language, but I frankly don't know if I can take it for much longer. There are many problems with this class. In fact, I can't think of much, if anything, that's right with it. The book and accompanying dictionary are practically useless. Instead of being made of orderly and themed lessons like good books commonly found in other languages, this book is basically just comprised of a series of short and unrelated texts about life in Sweden. Unfortunately, that is pretty much the only material used for the class. There are occasional charts throughout the book briefly summarizing various grammatical concepts, but that's as much help as you'll find. The book is also fully written in Swedish as it is apparently meant to be used in any part of the world. All that we ever do in class is take turns reading from the book and then translating. Of course, the vocabulary is always far over our heads and the amount of new words introduced with each lesson keeps us from ever accumulating much vocabulary at all. We are then left to complete numerous and tedious exercises with the so-called dictionary as our only support. However, it is only Swedish-English and not the other way around. Some exercises even require us to write down text as heard on CD's accompanying the book, although said text is extremely hard to understand, especially for people learning Swedish for the first time. I won't say too much about Verne. I feel bad for her sometimes. I do think that she is passionate about what she teaches but it seems that she has no idea what she is doing. Also, she can so snappy and borderline rude that I've learned never to ask questions during class and rather wait until after for fear of having my head ripped off. Take this class at your own risk. Even a love of the Swedish language may not be enough to rescue you.

Dec 2008

I took elementary Swedish I as an elective for fun (what a bad idea). Despite it being an elective I still wholeheartedly wanted to learn some Swedish...I figured one semester could provide me with a small, but decent amount of knowledge. Alas, I could not achieve that. The biggest problem is the textbook and accompanying word list book (dictionary). The former is horrible, not one word of English and extremely disorganized. I mean normally a language text presents blocks of new vocabulary and even if it does not define them in English, at the very least presents the words with the gender, but not this book. As for the "dictionary", it too leaves something to be desired in that it is Swedish-English. This is just crazy! OK, so I said the problems with the book, which are truly detrimental to one's learning, but I have not gotten to the true source of this class' problem-the professor. I agree with just about all the posts which adress her attitude. As for the others, they were obviously blinded by her because she took well to them. Chances are you will not be among her few favorite students and if you are not, be prepared to feel horrible for 2 hours twice a week. She makes you feel like you have to "tip-toe through the tulips"! Asking for how something is spelled, or to repeat something is often met with a scowling reply. Most language programs present new grammar/vocabulary and then work with it specifically for a couple of classes, even writing out genders or verb forms on the board so you get a complete learning of these new words. This never happens in this class! You may even get things wrong on the quizzes (i never saw 5-8 page quizzes before this class) that were just a word read once in class. Seriously, if one of the paragraphs we read had a word even that we never see anywhere else, you better learn it. This is very difficult since we are called on to translate and guess for much of that, then when she lets us know the ones we miss, it is very hard to write down notes if you are the one translating. God forbid you take a moment to do this in front of this impatient woman. Another thing about these quizzes: while we are given study guides, you do not get tested for the material in a straight forward way. For example, when we got tested on new prepositions we were not just asked something simple like what is between in Swedish, but rather had sentences with some words we never saw before (or atleast never explicitly taught) with blanks where we could chooses prepositions from a list to fill in with. Anyway, I could go on and on how I hate this class, but it will just make too long of a post. Bottom line is this woman should not be a professor (of a language course at least).

Oct 2007

Verne is exceptionally abrasive, sometimes mean-spirited, but usually just grumpy and mercurial. I’ve never met anyone more abrupt than her! While I do believe that I learned a great deal of Swedish from my first year of instruction, the second year was unpredictable and haphazard to say the least! We didn't follow the syllabus and I was usually left in the dark about requirements, etc. She does know her material and willing to load you up with extra books, tapes, dvds, in whatever aspect of Scandinavian culture you're interested in, but she was so moody all the time that I was quite astonished. Not just to her students, but to everyone around her, Verne exudes an air of condescension and utter disregard towards anyone/thing she deems not to her liking. After a while, it becomes a chore trying to work and engage with her. While there were glimpses of a kinder, nicer professor--as when she bought me lunch one day--these moments were regularly fleeting. I might add that some of her expectations--like having the students photocopy out of their own expenses, materials that they may not even use in class--to be quite ridiculous. More often than not, I dreaded going to this class just because I dreaded working with someone so unpredictable and, I believe, unhappy.

Mar 2007

Verne Moberg is, in my opinion, horrible. If you do anything wrong or miss any class whatsoever, she will hold it against you for all time. If you're of Scandinavian descent, she'll probably love you and fawn over you. You will not enjoy this either. While she does know her shit, it is not worth it. Just don't do it. You will regret it forever and wonder why you just HAD to take THIS class. I wish that I had dropped my class with her when I had the chance, but I felt bad because there were only four people. There's a reason why only four people take her classes. In addition to Verne seeming soulless, her classes are extremely disorganized and the work is completely structureless. She'll give you a very detailed syllabus but do not be fooled! It's only there to lull you into a false sense of complacency. You will not follow it. It will not provide any sort of guidelines for the semester. Now, I'm one of those people who, when you read a bad review of a professor or hear something bad about someone, will always be like, "No, come on, they probably just don't know him/her that well. I'll give him/her a chance, s/he's probably very nice if you're nice to him/ her!" NO. THIS IS NOT TRUE. I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt and keeping an open mind but I do not want to let anyone else walk into the train wreck that is a Verne Moberg class. Please, PLEASE, DO NOT TAKE HER CLASSES. You WILL regret it.

Mar 2007

Ugh. She is the reason I stopped studying Swedish. It's such a shame she single handedly runs the show concerning all things Scandinavian at Columbia. With an interest pool so small to begin with don't you think she'd try not to drive all of her students away? At the beginning of the semester of Elementary Swedish we had 9 students. By the end of the semester we had 5. Only 2 returned for the following semester. Horrible retention rate for, in my opinion, horrible teaching.

May 2006

Professor Moberg is certainly a unique character but I am rather surprised at the resounding negativity of the previous reviews. Verne is genuinely passionate about the Swedish language, culture, Scandinavian history, women's rights, and Nordic literature, making her an invaluable asset for anyone interested in these topics. She is very organized and efficient (at least with her language classes), and is also prepared to answer any question a student might ask. As long as you come to class, do your work, and maintain a positive attitude, I cannot imagine that any problems could arise from working with this professor. She isn't evil and just demands attention and practice as all good professors do. She was even nice enough to treat us to lunch one day.

Feb 2006

This had the potential to be a really amazing class, but it was a complete and utter letdown. The material was fun and very interesting, but the class itself was unbelievably boring. It was supposed to be a literature class, but we watched movies (adaptations) for more than half of the classes. It was so unstructured that we hardly ever read the same texts (people would read different stories by the same author, or from the same country), which made discussions difficult. On top of that, Verne was a real stickler about attendance and punctuality. Overall the class was pretty easy, just unstimulating and painful to sit though.

May 2005

Verne Moberg is great for a couple reasons. Firstly, Scandinavia is broad, and Moberg takes time to find your interests and then she lends films, plays, etc. to students that suits those areas. Secondly, she is the Swedish department. Her knowldege of the region is exceptional and she presents a balanced curriculum (ie Women's issues, immigration, etc). Lastly, she is very approachable and is more humane than the archetypical droid-like profs @CU. She treated us to lunch one day.

Dec 2004

i really disagree with the last review. verne is a great language teacher and is incredibly supportive and helpful to anyone who takes a genuine interest in the topic. she is always available out of class hours if you need extra help, and she organizes an interesting and diverse program of events related to swedish culture at deutsches haus. she demands participation and effort -- all good professors do.

Jan 2003

Verne, verne , verne what more should I say. She has got to be one of the most favortism oriented teachers I know. For starters the class only has like 12 kids, so you would think that during class you would have more of an opportunity to speak. But, alas, no- Verne only picks on people who she perceives understand Swedish. In fact , once she realizes that you are behind she won't ever call on you to read or translate. To make matters worse, if you have trouble translating then you are stuck to reading swedish and having her pick others to translate for you. How humiliating!! She is passionate about her subject, but focuses too much on women's rights (due to her sexual orientation). Needless to say the amount of swedish becomes a nuisance when you realize that both books are in swedish. Literally the dictionary is in Swedish so you can't look up words, and the textbook doesn't have a word of English either.

Apr 2002

Verne is an excellent teacher who keeps track of why each student is learning Swedish and puts a lot of effort into helping you pursue those interests. She helps students learn this fun language and get scholarships to go to Sweden for the summer!

Dec 2001

She always seemed really pissed off. She openly picked favorites in class. She seemed so resentful towards the students and had no problem teaching by means of humiliation. Other than that, the material was fun, the kids in the class were sweet and just plain interested in swedish culture.

Jan 2000

Its Swedish. We watch movies. we listen to tapes. the classes are small. but really what it is in the end is that its swedish. what more can you say.