Kalinka Alvarez

Nov 2013

The girl has style. I'll admit, I walked into Intermediate French I with a chip on my shoulder and an inflated ego -- I've been practicing French since high school, off-and-on, never fully committed. But this in itself was my first mistake: Kalinka makes you commit. If you come with a subpar background in French, and are unable to perfectly translate all of the basic verbs in the few forms you do know, I would recommend revising before taking her section, or trying a different professor. Kalinka is nice, save a few sly comments that are very tongue-and-cheek (I think it's the Russian in her). Particularly, she likes to poke fun at American customs and even raise eyebrows at those who try to communicate with her in French unless you speak it relatively well. On one hand, the course is meant to be (ideally) simple -- learn the material as quickly as possible and perform well in class so you can do even better on the exams. But I think the ultimate fault with this system, especially for me, was that the grammar lessons were quickly taught in French in an unclear manner that makes it difficult to complement with the translated lessons in the textbook. I just wish she spoke English for the grammar. The only thing that kept me coming to class was her Parisian chic style and her accent. If anyone can dress for class, it's Kalinka.