She is one of my favorite teachers here at Columbia. The course reminded me of high school a little bit because of the daily HW and because of the small class size. If you are prepared to do a lot of written work that isn't hard, but a bit time consuming, what you learn in this class is very worthwhile, and Valentina is such a pleasant woman that it makes her rigorous workload bearable. It also seems like she really cares about her students and the atmosphere in my class was really pleasant. I learned a lot and nearly perfected my modest Russian.
The class was, because of its vague title, with people of very mixed levels. Lebedev's nice but will nail you if you miss any of her copious homework. Maybe that's a good thing because unless you're reading at near-English speed and writing in cursive you can't miss an assignment without falling hopelessly behind. Lectures are a must-- this lady gets more done in 75 minutes than some professors do in a month of classes. Fulfills foreign language requirement so a good bargain if you only need to brush up on the reading and writing. Good luck!
Don't take this class if you can't devote massive amounts of energy to it. At best, you will get a great foothold in the Russian language with the help of a wonderful, enthusiastic professor. But that's only if you can put in 2 hours a night to do the huge number of worksheets, nail the grammar, and memorize the massive amounts of vocab. Miss one night and it's all downhill from there; this prof. will really humiliate you in class. If you're planning on majoring in Russian, you probably couldn't choose a better teacher. Otherwise, do your sanity a favor and think twice before registering for Lebedev's section.