Joel Simpson

Aug 2002

I have to dissent from the other review of Simpson on this site. My biggest problem with his class was his lack of sensitivity to the different levels of the students. Some students came to the class having already taken years of high school French, while others had never spoken a word of French in their life. Simpson ignored these differences and often praised students for using advanced words they could not possibly have learned in his class rather than wonder why such a student is in his class at all. Simpson often used vocabulary words we could not have possibly known is his grammatical examples. I suspect, though of course I don't know, that the student who said Simpson's grading was helpful and fair had already taken some French. Simpson often did things like mark us off in final drafts for mistakes he had ignored in the rough drafts. And though Simpson is quite knowledgeable, a lot of this knowledge is not useful for an introductory French student. Simpson often went off on tangents, in English, about such esoteric subjects as the German origin of the French word for wife, at a time when some of the students in the class could not even say the most basic things in French. Finally, his communication with the class regarding assignments was very poor. In one instance, he gave us a test review sheet that contained words we had never seen before, told us to learn the words because they would definitely be on the test, and then gave us a test with none of these words. Nobody even tried to say anything to him about this because we all knew he wouldn't listen. All of these criticisms being said, I will say that Simpson's insensitivity makes for a very challenging class; if you REALLY want to learn French (or have already learned some) and don't mind the sort of things I wrote about before, this class will be good for you. But I ended up hating it; I felt like the demands made on me as a true beginner were too high.

Jun 2002

This is a very informative class, with clear, concise lectures. The professor is very motivated, knowledgeable about just about everything, and is generally very pleasant. The sessions were often very interesting and Professor Simpson is one of the most gregarious people I've every met and he seems to take a genuine interest in his students, in addition to loving teaching. This class was a delightful experience where I learned a lot. And I found him to be a helpful and fair grader, too. My one note is this, I do think it would benefit Simpson to teach an upper level course because I did not feel he was challenged by our class (but then again, I wouldn't have been either). And he's late A LOT, but then again, so am I.