professor
Yaelle Azagury

Jan 2006

Prof. Azagury is probably more difficult than other language teachers, but she's a good teacher. We covered 4 major topics of grammar and went through them carefully and did many examples. Class was pretty much the same every day which could got boring at times. The assigned homework exercises pretty much mirror the tests, so what's expected of you is not a mystery. I took this class to fulfill the language requirement, but I know others in my class were debating whether they should continue taking French after this course because it was difficult.

Nov 2005

First of all, how do you even go about pronouncing her name? I don't even know. But once you get past the fact that you have no idea how to address her, she's way nice. Not to mention honest. A little too honest, sometimes. Oh, and don't be concerned if you don't know how to speak French or if you can't understand French - because she speaks in ENGLISH! She has a beautiful accent when she does speak in French, though. Plus, she teaches us French curse words, which is pretty sweet. This class isn't the best if you want to enhance your French vocab or pronuciation, but it's good to fine tune some minor grammar points. Take the clas if you just need to fulfill the requirement!

May 2005

Prof. Azagury is pretty nice, an ok teacher, not amazing or anything, just ok. The class is basically as good as the people in it, since most of it is made up of class or group discussions. Somewhat interesting, very easy... good if you want an easy A.

Dec 2004

She is beautiful, talented and extremely knowledgeable. I loved the class. The only other review on this comp class, from last year, is still accurate. I took it Fall 2004 and there are still 5 short essays, pretty vast in their topics, and relating to random things, i.e. make a French resume, write about two photos, write about an important emotion you felt, etc etc...must discuss and speak in class to get a good grade. I got an A- and i deserved less b/c i wasn't in class at the beginning, but she understood my predicaments and was so kind that it scared me. I love this woman and the class was easy, enjoyable and a good way to keep your oral french skills going. Not difficult, a break from the heavy loaded french lit classes you have to take for majors. I recommend the class highly.

May 2004

As a French teacher, Professor Azagury might be better than she is as an English teacher. It's pretty obvious that English isn't her first language, and her comments are sometimes heavyhanded and unclear. She's nice and stylish but not a great professor. She's an arbitrary grader--she gives out a lot of A-'s with no explanation one way or another. Papers can be marked down because she disagrees with the thesis, even if it's argued well.

Jan 2004

As everyone knows, the language classes at Barnard are harder and better than those at Columbia with maybe some exceptions. Anyway, this course was definitely challenging, since it forces you to do lots of annoying stuff in French, the grading of which has no clear basis (ex. we had to write a resume in French, and were graded on the format and presentation of what we did instead of how the French was; we had to make ads in French and were graded by how the thing looked more than if it was correct). If you have great French, you'll get B's and B+'s unless you pair that with an eye for detail (aesthetic and grammatical) and some sort of flash/ hook for your subject (ex. make your final presentation fun, and she'll forget all about your French). She doesn't want this class to be boring, though you can space out through a lot of it. She knows her stuff, and speaks French as a native (finally!). She also seems a little too put together, but she really just wants to feel like a part of a group instead of a teacher. The fact that there was no midterm or final (not even oral interviews) was great because by the end of the semester we were just having fun. You'll spend most of the classes just talking about something she handed out. Take the course to keep your French from slipping and use this unique, small, conversational centerpiece to develop your speaking skills. You won't get amazing, but you'll get better.

Jan 2004

Yick. The seconds could not tick away fast enough a single day of her cursed class! Yaelle acts as though she encourages you to ask questions at first, but once you begin to produce these questions, she seems to have extreme difficulty answering them. She presents her answers in the same words with which she previously explained the topic. The trouble is - if you are asking the question, chances are fair that you didn't understand the first explanation of the topic, and thus her answer is no better than her original presentation of the material. When students had trouble with grammar points or concepts, especially when a few were having difficulty with the same ones, it would become apparent to Yaelle (in front of her class) that the students were not understanding her lecture and she got frustrated and moody. Finally she would just continue to get louder and more flustered until she was at a loss and would resort to: "It's JUST A RULE! You just must understand this to be this way." Which of course - is an unsuitable definition for any question in any course - French to basket weaving. You will NOT learn to speak any better in the class. We never spoke french!

Sep 2003

Though freshmen may initially have the penchant to equate intellectualism with stuffiness, thus immediately disqualifying Professor Azagury for her youthful enthusiasm and exuberance, such thinking is decidedly incorrect. As one quickly learns, the best professors are those who are young enough to remain active in their fields and mutable in their views, while still possessing an impressive amount of knowledge on a given subject. That is precisely what Professor Azagury (or Yaelle, depending on whether or not she's around) embodies. The proof, really, is in the pudding: at the beginning of the first semester (which was, mind you, her first ever semester teaching), she did occasionally seem closed-minded about her interpretations. As time went on and the students proved their intellectual worth, however, she began to willingly acquiesce to another interpretation if it was able to discredit her own. Try pulling that off with the stuffy, old professors who are not fixed, but rather fossilised in their own views. Though some reviewers continue to harp on Yaelle’s supposed rigidness…well, only three people in the class really participated on a regular basis or attempted to contradict her arguments, and all of them (myself included) have written favorably about her flexibility on the website. So without any grounds for their criticisms, the other reviews are essentially null. Discussions are thoughtful, encouraged, and open to new ideas – period. As far as papers go, this respect for original arguments translates to the following: if you actually say something worthwhile in your papers and have the chops to prove it, you will do very well (and by very, I mean extremely). Thus, you will be in excellent shape if you say something like, "Though Don Quixote and King Lear are very similar because of their delusions of self, their fantastical transitions are, in fact, opposite: whereas the bourgeois Don Quixote elevates himself to the status of royalty, King Lear degrades himself to the level of common man. In such a manner, the authors prove the romantic hero’s perpetual dissatisfaction with and departure from the status quo." You will get a less favorable reading, on the other hand, if you write a thesis like "Though Don Quixote and King Lear are very similar because they are both crazy, they have, in fact, many differences.” Though you may laugh, the tendency is to write a thesis like the latter. It is stupid, and Yaelle can see right through your last- minute crap. So don’t even try it. If, however, you are a motivated and creative thinker who actually deserves to do well, then you will assuredly do so. Grading is thus very fair … though when it comes down to assigning a letter grade to a paper, she is perhaps too generous even to papers she didn’t love. But that can certainly never work against you.

May 2003

i got a B the first semester with yaelle, and an A- the second semester. yaelle is the best teacher i've ever had. if you're obsessed with grades, spoiled, used to getting coddled by your teachers; if you're thin-skinned, narcissistic and angry then you're not going to like this course. but if you want the remarkable experience of someone whose nature is obviously kind and generous and so has the confidence to treat her students like mature, intelligent, responsible adults, then yaelle is the professor for you. she challenges, provokes, takes different positions in order to get you to strengthen and clarify your ideas. oh yes, she has flaws. she won't speak to you in some insincere condescending way just to get a good evaluation at the end of the year. because she has a kind heart, she has an austere mind. because she knows the value of time, she won't waste yours. because she obviously has lived a full, fascinating life, she knows how to challenge you and secretly conspire with you at the same time. you'll never meet a better professor, or a better human being, than yaelle.

May 2003

Here is what I have to say to the rest of the people who dropped out of lit hum first semester and now insist on writing bad reviews of Yaelle: back off! Ok, I'll admit that first semester was a bit tense at times, but I think that Yaelle really tried to change during the second semester. She is not a ridiculous human being, she does not make outrageous demands, she is very willing to speak with students about papers, and she really attempted to take the critiques from first semester seriously. That said, second semester gave Yaelle a chance to shine. She genuinely cares about the students and made every effort to encourage more discussion. Also, it is totally possible to improve your grades from Yaelle, as mine have improved a lot over the year. Yaelle's lit hum class was a pleasure- in addition to providing a solid base for the core.

May 2003

Having read the two previous reviews, I must admit that immediately after the first semester, I did agree with the first reviewer. That said, with some distance, I now admit that I may have been wrong. While by no means a "literature Ph. D," as the second reviewer put it, Yaelle has some talent as a professor that could develop over time. That said, if you find yourself in her section on the first day of class, watch out. If you leave the class thinking "danger, will robinson, danger," as I did, you will benefit immensely from transferring out. If, like the second reader, you find yourself engaged in her mildly closed-minded and "trudgy" yet interesting course, then stay in and see what happens. The grading is borderline ridiculous--the grade you get on the first paper/test will be the grade you get all year. Yaelle benchmarks you from day one with a certain grade and keeps you there no matter what. Her commentary on papers is also extremely random and sometimes makes explicit the fact that if she does not agree with you, you will not do well. But, if you're like me and want more from the core than just a grade (what annoyed me most was the repetitious, somewhat mundane comments), you might want to give her a shot. I would have hated second semester had I taken it with her, but I'm sure that for others it could have been fun. Do watch out for the one or two kids in the class who will continually agree with Yaelle to boost their grades (and get rewarded for it)--but there are some fun moments to be had. I will remember fondly until the day I graduate the argument we had about Oedipus when me, another student, and Yaelle "took on" the whole class in a dispute about fate. Moments like that were great, but for the most part I found myself trudging from class to class, dismayed that no matter what I did I would get the same comments and mildly annoyed that class discussion was often Yaelle continuing to allow people to speak until someone agreed with her. All in all, I will end with this--you have to gel with Yaelle to get anything out of the course. Moreso than any other class, getting a good professor is key. If you find Yaelle to be one, great. I didn't, but I could be wrong. Be careful, but don't be stupid. She will be right and you will be wrong at times. The grey areas, however, are something she has to work on for the future, and if she does open the class up more, her class could be a lot of fun.

May 2003

yaelle is a fairly good teacher. i would not go to the lengths to say that she is a horrible teacher, however i would not say she is a great teacher. she does seem to get some sort of pleasure out of putting students on the spot but i think that may be the french way. she is not necessarily the most accessibly teacher either for some reason because i do not think she teaches all that many classes. she will spend extra time on harder chapters, but then throws that back in your face a little to show to you that the class is behind schedule. she will postpone tests at the last moment and tell you about two days beforehand that you are having one, but that is purely for your benefit. her tests are definitely difficult and she does not really give you any slack. all in all, i did learn a lot from these classes but her harsh abrupt tones can get in the way of your learning and the enjoyment of learning a new language...so to anyone who is taking her class just give it some time and go in knowing that she is not sweet all the time but is one of the most temperamental teachers i have had at barnard.

Apr 2003

The other review of Ms. Azagury represents one particular school of thought on Ms. Azagury, and the reviewer is one of about three people who left the class at the semester switch. Suffice to say, he is likely one of those Columbia students who can't stand it when the professor is smarter than he is, or when the professor has something original to say about books. I was with Professor Azagury the whole year, and she is an intelligent, endearing, and young teacher. I'll agree she has a way of phrasing questions that is awkward, but she is changing that tendancy over time and with more experience in the class room. She does not "rape" the core, she teaches it like a literature Ph.D. would: utilizing both traditional and non-traditional readings of the texts throughout history. Though the first semester is good, she excels in the second semester. The class itself can sometimes drag on - but it is two hours long. If you do the reading, you'll stay awake in class, and you may appreciate the things Professor Azagury has to say. If you don't, then you'll probably end up transferring like the last reviewer.

Apr 2003

(Barnard professor) At first, you'll feel like she's really mean and enjoys putting her students on the spot when they don't know what they're talking about. Some people continue to think this, but if you get past her rather abrupt style, she is really nice, helpful, and willing to go to lengths so that you understand french. If you try, you'll learn a lot in her class.

Mar 2003

I don't know who ever had the idea to put a Barnard French teacher into Lit Hum, but they should be shot. Really, she's not a bad Lit Hum teacher - if you don't mind seeing the core being raped before your eyes. While "leading" the discussion, she tends to look for the "right answer", not a possible answer - it's as if she were the ultimate expert in the subject. I came to the class with the idea that LIt Hum was about reading the texts and interpreting them for ourselves. But Ms. Azagury always sought us to reach HER interpretations, and that seemed to stifle the discussion. (Having switched for second semester, I can tell you that the second class WAS as I expected - and so much more rewarding.) Of course, Oedipus Rex COULDN'T have been about fate - according to her, Oedipus is not at all about fate. Its about Freud - forgetting the fact that Freud was born more than 3,000 after Oedipus was written and that fate is explicitly mentioned throughout the text. However, if it is YOUR fate to get Ms, Azagury, I'd suggest switching out if at all possible - although it probably isn't during the first semester. Its a good thing you read the bible right at the end of the first semester then - you'll be prepared for the exodus from her class before the second.

Nov 2002

The first reviewer is obviously someone who wanted to sleep through class and still get an A+. Yaelle is a wonderful and dedicated professor. She NEVER expects you to "magically acquire the material", NEVER! When it comes to clarity, keep in mind that Yaelle is a NATIVE french speaker. Do not hold it against her if you've had a previous professor with a bad accent and are now actually hearing what french is REALLY supposed to sound like with Yaelle. Accesibilty-wise, Yaelle is always willing to make an appointment with you in order to help you out (she also has office hours.) When she does change dates for exams, it's for a later date because she feels the class is not ready and wants to prepare them more for it so that they don't fail: I don't know but I feel that works in the students' advantage! Never did she use defending her dissertation as an excuse not to do her part (the reason it was even mentioned was because some students asked her in friendly conversation a few questions about herself)! Plus, the fact that she got her PhD ovbiously shows that she knows her stuff! If you go to Columbia to take French, you'll leave knowing as much as you would after a year of French in Junior High only. ( note to students: Barnard is known for having the better language department, including french, of both schools). Maybe that's why the first reviewer said that "it's easier at Columbia".

Jun 2002

the previous reviewer is really off-target and unfair. yaelle is a sweet and funny person always willling to hold office hours and answer questions. her tests ARE hard, but the class is leniently curved. she provides lots of practice in class on grammatical concepts and she seems to understand individual students' weaknesses and strengths.

Apr 2002

Gods, how I have hated this woman's class. Simply put: in my opinion, Yaelle does not know how to teach well. The class is reminiscent of a bad cross between the Spanish Inquisition and that high school language class you know you hated. She'll spend long periods reading the grammar explanations directly from the text, and when you have a question, she says "WHY don't you understand?" as though you're just supposed to magically acquire the material. From what I hear elsewhere, French is a language that is spoken with clarity. She is rarely accessible and fond of assigning things at the last minute, changing dates of tests upon a whim, and just generally exerting control because she can do so. I mean, defending your dissertation is no excuse. You can't treat your students as though you expect them to worship at your divine altar. Yaelle is the worst instructor I've ever had at Barnard, and I am taking the next portion of this class at Columbia to escape her section. I highly suggest you do the same. Note to incoming BC French students: Yaelle is currently scheduled to teach both sections of Elementary French I in the fall. Run across the street; it's probably easier at Columbia anyway.