professor
Alexandra Borer

Nov 2018

Honestly, I'm surprised she doesn't have more reviews. A previous review says that she's boring but I think that's just the nature of the French Grammar class, which I also took but with a different professor. That class was kind of boring. But Alexandra Borer? Absolutely not! She's a joy in class. Perhaps because the classes I took with her are more engaging that just consulting some grammar textbook. I took "Third-Year Conversation" and "French Language, Culture and Society through Paris" with her. Alexandra is great at presenting new ideas and vocab in French. Often, she'll put a few words, phrases, or ideas on the board in French, and then she'll separate you into groups and ask each group to guess what the mystery terms mean. That's actually quite fun, because not only does it force you to think critically about the language, but it also gives you an opportunity to speak in French. Her classes tend to be multimedia, with a mixture of video, images, texts, poems, etc. All that's to say, her class is super interesting! She's very sharp when listening to students' conversation. She'll come around when you're separated in groups and listen for a while, sometimes giving input, asking new questions that propel the conversation, and always correcting your speech when you make a mistake. It's helpful, she's not harsh at all! She's also quite flexible with deadlines; I guess that's probably a very French thing...? But that's also because she never really specifies whether some written work is hand-in or not. It's like a riddle; you have to take your chances. Are our answers to these three questions for handing in? Is this short research just for me or does she want it for a grade? Either way, it's not a problem because at the end of class you'll find out (surprise!) and if you didn't do it, just show up next class with it. No penalties.

Apr 2018

Professor Borer is an excellent instructor. She is patient, jovial, and passionate about her subject. She came to every class with the most wonderful positive attitude and was always smiling. As a native speaker of French she is intimately familiar with the language. She devised creative lessons and engaged the class with a variety of different subjects. She was very comfortable in the classroom and did a good job of enticing students to participate.

Sep 2016

Professor Borer is one of the most kind and understanding professors I have met at Columbia. Our class was a 10:10 and naturally many students were late, tired, and more but she never raised her voice, or made a negative comment once. Although her calm nature does sometimes cause the class to become boring, her approachable manner, and smile make up for a great start of the day! The class is usually around 10 people, almost always has 2 people conversations that last for 20 mins where professor Borer walks around and listens. We watched movies in class, and read and watched theaters that add a French culture that I personally found very useful for my following semester in Paris. Professor Borer is very understanding of comments, suggestions and even criticism of French arts, which makes it very easy to talk in class, and you should talk! Although the participation looks like 'only' 25%, trust me, it is worth 99%. The class really moves through student participation and if you just stay in your corner thinking about when you'll make it to bed again, you will probably not get a good grade. The class is also for those who are more into the composition part of french. Though we technically had one class on grammar and one on composition each week, the readings (poems, essays, theaters by Moliere etc) and movies (Jules et Jim) are much more focused on. Homework is like any other language course, very regular, but you can miss doing one or two. She rarely collects them, she will tell you when she does. It will take time, depending on your french level, not more than any kind of elementary language course (2 hours per week or so) Pro tip: don't buy the books, we barely used them, they're not worth it!

Apr 2013

Writing from a senior's perspective, probably one of the best professors I've had at Columbia. Alexandra is patient, kind, funny, and not too bad on the eyes either. She was fantastic at integrating the entire class into exercises with vocabulary and pronunciation, gave us the freedom to explore various linguistic and cultural differences (we once spent half a class talking about French curse words), and when we were writing all of our professor reviews we all struggled to think of anything she could improve on. Très bien!