Professor Frank, while a genuinely nice person, is quite hindered by her fluttery personality and general flakiness. She is unclear about what she wants in papers, and does not seem to pay attention to students in class except for a few very talkative favorites. Secret Societies sounds more interesting than it is, as the books are kind of inaccessible and boring, with a few not-so-bad ones thrown in.
This class has interesting literature and interesting themes, but Frank is the antithesis of interesting. She is allegedly smart, but is a total space cadet. The one thing I remember about her class is silence. She would ask questions that no one would respond to, and would just sit there for minutes waiting for someone to answer her. Her grading is fairly easy, but her dizzy personality is hard to decipher and really annoying.
I'm not sure what to say. The class was boring but it's not thrilling material. Professor Frank is clearly a literature person and I would stick to her in that context. Don't be afraid to shop around for a teacher that fits you in this course. Professor Frank won't bring you very far along - if you're not a french scholar, get a tutor - many people in the class had to.
This class can either be wonderful for you, or a real pain in the ass. If you already do well in french, and just need a little brushing up, you're in luck. If you're really struggling with the material and you need someone to help you out...hire a tutor. Frank is used to teaching french literature, so most of the class is devoted to "The Little Prince" and other reading, and what little grammer there is is taken straight from the textbook. Frank's lectures are the most boring way you could possibly spend your time. Fortunately, since she never says anything important, you won't miss out if you skip class a little, or just stop listening for a while. To her credit, Frank is aware that the class is biased towards those who have had more experience in french (she doesn't seem to realize why though), therefore, if you don't seem to know what's going on, she'll be very leinent with you. The really obnoxious thing is that she'll occasionally assign you to watch a french movie, and then write something about it. Not that the movies are all bad - sometimes she even lets you pick them yourself - it just seems like a serious waste of time for those of us who just want to learn the grammer and get the hell out. Her grading policies are pretty sweet. With the essays, she says that since different people have different levels of experience, she's going to grade based on how much "effort" you put into it (translation: based on how long it is). Once, she asked for 3/4 of a page, and so just to test her, I wrote the worst 1.5 pages ever, and got an A. Nice.
Prof. Frank is one of the best professors you'll ever have- IF you take one of her upper level classes. Everyone I know who's taken a language class from her said it was a nightmare (see other reviews) but the French lit class I took from her was spectacular. She knows EVERYTHING about the history of French thought. She's very enthusiastic about the material and she makes it really interesting. She's incredibly brilliant and encourages students to really grapple with the texts. She actually encourages students who have trouble with the material in French to read it in English which keeps the level of discussion at a higher level since there are no comprehension issues. She also changes the syllabus as the class progresses to best fit the interests of the particular group of students in the class and ensure that all the material covered gets enough attention. The readings are fantastic- interesting, challenging, etc. I reccommend this class to anyone with any interest in philosophy, literature, French history, or who's just looking for a kick-ass professor. As the other reviewers mentioned, prof. Frank is a VERY lenient grader. If you show an interest in the material, hand some stuff in sometimes and participate in class discussions you'll get an A.
Long Long Long Long lectures made you want to go to sleep. However, you really learned French- I mean really learned French. She was extremely available after class and on weekends, or whenever. She always was polite and understanding. Other than the class being boring I recommend it for the fact that you learn so much (especially with the extra help).
Bring a pillow to class. Or, better yet, don't go at all; it's not like you'd be missing anything important! If you took French in high school and did even halfway decently, congratulations! Show up, look alive, hand in the assigned work on time (eh... you don't even really have to do THAT), and unless you consistently disturb the lecture by loudly banging your head against your desk to stay conscious and mumbling, "Make it stop... make it stop...", as I did (and yet, still aced the class...?), you'll walk out of Frank's class with at least a B+/A-. Good news: she's a nice person, relatively easy to talk to, pretty lenient when it comes to the few papers that she assigns (with obscure topics that will make you go, "Ugh... vous me plaisantez..."), and makes up packets of worksheets that aren't collected or graded, so honestly, you don't have to do them if you've a) already got a solid grasp of the basics, and/or b) have something - ANYTHING - better to do with your time. Bad news: if you DON'T have a solid grasp of the basics, GOOD LUCK because you sure as hell won't be getting it from Frank! It's not totally her fault that the class is long and monotonous, and that she doesn't know how to teach a language course without simply regurgitating the textbook because she's used to teaching French Lit. Frank's language class is a waste of time and energy for those just beginning their studies in French at Columbia, and a GPA-booster for former high French students who can somehow manage to make it through the semester without permanently slipping into an ennui- induced coma.