Aili Flint

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Sep 2007

I loved this class and this professor. Aili (as you will come to call her) is easy going, interesting, witty, and slightly nuts. She is able to relate the Kalevala (and if you don't know what it is, that's okay; she will have you raving about it within a month) to all things Finland, yet she is able to make the Kalevala interesting for the Kalevala's sake alone. She is keenly interested in the background and experiences of her students, and tries to draw on these as much as possible during the course of classroom discussion. The class tends to small, intimate and fun.

Jul 2006

Aili is very nice and cheerful. The class is very comfortable and relaxed, and because itÂ’s small (we had 6 people first semester and 4 second) Aili will tailor how fast you move and what you cover to fit your needs and interests. You also talk a lot, but thereÂ’s no pressure as in other language classes because you do it so often and the class itself is so low-key. (No silly skits either!) Aili is very good at explaining grammar (theyÂ’re a lot of rules, but theyÂ’re straightforward and are very few exceptions). My one complaint is that because Aili is so relaxed, you really have to work on your own to memorize vocabulary (we never had a single vocab test all year). Overall, a great class and highly recommended!

Dec 2004

First of all, Prof. Flint is just about the nicest, most cheerful people you'll ever encounter at Columbia. Class with her is often such silly fun, you'll be amazed by how much you're actually learning. She's a fabulous teacher who clearly loves what she does, and the class is like a cozy little family by the end of the semester. Speaking of which, this is another great reason to study Finnish: because it's so obscure, the class is always small and everyone there is genuinely interested in learning the language. If you're sick of zombielike freshmen in your full-to-capacity Spanish class, then Finnish might be the place for you. Now, Finnish is supposedly insanely difficult, but seriously, it's not that bad. Grammatically, it's very complex and unlike anything you're likely to be familiar with, but trust me, with Prof. Flint explaining everything, it will all make sense. And anyway, you get the vaguely exotic, or at least very nerdy, cachet of studying an obscure (and, I might add, cool-sounding) language that was one of Tolkien's inspirations for his Elvish languages. Even the simplest phrases are bound to impress your friends far more than some French or Japanese or Latin ever would. This class is doubly fabulous if you are a linguistics nerd like me; the structure of Finnish is totally fascinating AND Prof. Flint will gladly chat with you about linguistics or etymology or grammar anytime.

Sep 2004

Ms. Flint's class meets in a small room engorged on all sides with books on anything Finnish. She greets you will a smile, parts with you with a smile and keeps the entire length of class as interesting as any class I've ever had thanks to her bubbly personality. I knew nothing about Finland beyond that it was one of those countries up north before. I'm no expert now, mind you, but I know the national epic, the Kalevala, through and through and am looking forward towards a trip to Finland when my finances will allow it. There is no single class I would recommend more highly, nor any teacher I have ever enjoyed and learned from quite as much than this Kalevala class, taught by Prof. Flint. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me at Columbia. (Except that one time at the West End, but that's another story...)

Feb 2003

very flexible class, no prior background needed, interesting. aili flint has energy and enthusiasm. not a hard grader.

Sep 2002

Listen to me: I know it sounds useless, I know it sounds random, but Finnish is the best thing that will ever happen to you. You will get an A (4 points of it!!), your workload will be nearly optional (although its fun stuff and you'll learn a lot from very little of it) and you will have the time of your life. Prof Flint runs class like an 18th century intellectual salon meets pee-wees playhouse: intimate, friendly, engaging, but also silly and fun. Also by "class" I mean you and like two other people, since its always small. Talk about personal attention. Time spent with Prof Flint is always a pleasure-- the woman has charisma like you have no idea-- and you'll learn as much about linguistics and culture as you will learn of the language itself. This isn't your average dumb language class of rote memorization and acting out idiot skits based on text book suggestions for an angry grad student. It's literally Columbia's biggest and best kept secret.

Jan 2000

Aili Flint is, essentially, Columbia University's Department of Finnish. Though her classes are technically grouped into the German Department, Finnish isn't even in the same language family as German. Aili teaches Finnish at Columbia, as well as a class on the Kalevala and Kanteletar, which are two fundamental works of Finnish folk mythology. Sound random and strange? It is. It's also one of the most thoroughly enjoyable and engaging classes I've ever taken. The reading material is fascinating, and you also get a fair serving of Finnish cultural and political history, which is presented with a great deal of verve and enthusiasm by Aili Flint, who is both personable and demanding in the classroom. If you're looking for an entertaining class to fill out your senior schedule, and have any interest in mythology, folk-tales, or Scandinavia, this is the class for you.