professor
Irene Motyl

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2019

I think that the course is important in the sequence, and Prof. Motyl is good at building writing and grammatical skills, but the actual content of the course was disappointing. It entirely focuses on Vienna and Austria, which wasn't something I'm interested in, and felt disorganized. I felt like I was doing busy work and that the group projects were unnecessary. I think there needs to be focus of the course picked and a better structure. We commonly ran out of time to go over all of the material we had been assigned to prepare for the day, which was disappointing as a student because it felt like I wasted my time on homework I didn't need to do. I found her to be a bit patronizing, and I felt uncomfortable speaking in class in case I messed up a sentence structure or didn't understand a question. I would suggest more patience and understanding that some students don't understand things perfectly every time, rather than getting frustrated when we don't do readings when she doesn't even remember the homework we were assigned.

Apr 2017

Motyl is very honestly the best. She's an incredible language instructor, and really helps each student hone in on their skills and weaknesses in a language. She's always trying to make the class interesting for us and comes in every day totally ready to teach. Professional, caring, and smart. Communicate with her if you have any issues: she's very understanding and wants to work with you. She's also super liberal, so leaning about politics with her is fun.

Dec 2012

Professor Motyl is an absolutely wonderful professor! Manages to create a balanced learning experience- well divided between traditional rote exercises, german film screenings, class discussions and group and individual presentations. Incredibly approachable when you have a problem and also full of interesting information about German and Austrian culture that she will gladly offer when you have questions. I left the class feeling not just that I had a greater grasp of german grammar and a larger vocabulary, but also a greater confidence and ability to express myself in german on a variety of topics like history, philosophy and art. Definitely take her Intermediate 1 Class if you can!

Nov 2012

Professor Motyl is by far the star of the Columbia/Barnard German departments! I have had her for Intermediate I, Advanced, and Grammar Review, and she has never failed to make class enjoyable and educational, simultaneously. If you are considering taking German, I would highly recommend her. If you're not sure whether you even want to take German, I would recommend her again because she won't let you down. As some of the other students said, she is patient, she will stop and answer questions, and she creates a comfortable atmosphere in each of her classes so everyone can feel included. Obviously, you need to do your homework and the readings, but it's relatively light considering you don't have to write a 20-page paper at the end of the course. Viel Spaß!

May 2010

Professor Motyl is a fantastic professor. She's very nice and is always willing to answer questions. She is able to explain difficult concepts clearly and is willing to repeat them several times so that everyone understands. The course is based on Austrian culture, which is a nice change of pace from the primarily Germany-centric courses the rest of the department offers. We discussed Austrian music, economics, history, culture, art, sports, major cities, etc. At the end of the semester we read one book, Arthur Schnitzler's ,,Fräulein Else." The course itself was not too difficult, though there was a lot of work assigned, more than I feel was necessary. We usually had so much homework assigned that we couldn't go over all of it in class. There was one assignment we didn't get to until two months after it was assigned. That's definitely not to say that homework for this class takes up a lot of time; it's just that if you were to go over each individual question in lecture (which we did) then you wouldn't be able to get through it all. Sometimes I felt the assignments were superfluous or just busy work, but most of the time they were valuable. That's really the only bad thing I can say about the course. I'm sure if we had asked Professor Motyl to assign less work she would have; it's just nobody felt it was that big of a problem.

Mar 2009

Irene Motyl is a fantastic professorin and you should definitely take her class (i'm sure all of her classes are great!). She is very aware of how people are doing in the class and has an almost maternal quality in the way she relates to her students. that said, she does have rules and deadlines and wants you to meet them. she is readily available to answer questions and seems to always have a word of encouragement. she has to grade people, but she does it in an objective, non-judgmental way. She really wants everyone to enjoy learning, and through it all she manages to teach a ton of stuff. i really learned sooooo much in this class.

Aug 2006

Irene is a wonderful professor. She is very approachable and understanding, and she simply wants everyone to try and to learn. She assigns grammar homework, which we go over in class, and work from a booklet with different short pieces of writing about austrian culture which stands as the basis for the next class discussion. She really appreciates and encourages participation, and she always corrects mistakes in a very constructive manner. She speaks very clearly and is usually easy to follow, as long as you concentrate on what she is saying. She assigns four small (1 1/2 page) papers, which she grades, critiques, allows you to turn it in again, and averages the pre and post corrected grades for your final grade on the paper. Also, there is no sit-in final. I thought this class was too challenging for me, as many of the students were completely or nearly fluent in German, but I ended up with a B+, so as long as you try hard and can generally follow what's going on, don't be scared of the grade. She wants you to do well.

Jun 2004

This was my first German class taken at Columbia. Irene is a very sweet lady - very understanding, but, in a very stereotypically German way (even though she's Austrian), won't accept things late, and MEANS it when she says she'll lower your grade if you have more than 3 absences. Other than the responsibility of going to class, the class was very light. The homeworks were helpful (just enough to make you learn - not so much that it was excessive). Essay subjects were always presented with enough options to please everyone. Since Irene's teacher training I believe is for a younger audience, she does tend to speak a little slowly, but, the way I see it, you don't want a very fast speaker at this level anyway. Overall, quite enjoyable. Nice way to get through German 1201.

May 2004

Irene is a very personable professor and, if anything, not a harsh grader. She is also very enthusiastic. That said, however, you will feel at times that you are learning somewhat less than you want to. Also, some topics, especially at the very beginning and at the very end of the course (kids' tales and early 20th cent. musicians) tend to be on the boring side. And, at times you wonder if you are back in high (or grade?) school, since you write-in your name on attendance sheet every class.

Jan 2004

Frau Motyl is wonderful, and the class is very interesting. The class is full of people with all different German proficiency levels. Somehow she is able to teach at many different levels without the class moving too fast or too slow. I never went to see her during her office hours, which I regret. She wants to help people and her patience is amazing. Take German with her, you won't regret it.

Dec 2003

i enjoyed the class very much, she likes feedback and will tailor the class to what the interest is. she reminds you that she is ther for your learning purposes, and will be there. i would seek her out. the class tends to be small and a lot of responsibility is in the hands of the students in terms of the direction of the course,

Nov 2003

Professor Motyl is a wonderful person to have! I really enjoyed her Intermediate 2 class. She is alway very friendly and positive. You may also get to go on field trips in this class!

Feb 2003

Very interesting! Irene is great, and she really cares about her students. This is the second course I took with her. She is absilutely the best teacher you can have.

Mar 2002

Prefoessor Motyl is absolutely the best teacher you can have in a language as obscure as German. She is very responsive to questions, spends a LOT of time explaining grammar until everyone in the class understands it. Plus her class is a lot of fun, includes visits to the Metropolitan Museum, the New York City Opera, as well as watching two interesting films related to the material discussed in class. Her class is well-organized, and most important -- EASY. You'll get an A even if you can't say a single sentence in German without making a grammatical error or forgetting the right word. Quizzes are really easy. The only thing Professor Motyl is particular about is vocabulary; and not so much knowing the words, as taking the time to look them up in the dictionary and writing them down in your notebook. I absolutely recommend her.