professor
Jixian Li

Apr 2004

Li laoshi is a nice, understanding person. However, the class is only boderline tolerable. Li spends most of the class struggling over how to communicate grammar ideas, homework assignments, and test/quiz info. As a result, things are often misconstrued, and many people come to class clueless. Li's engish skills just aren't good enough to be teaching an introductory level course. Try to take another teacher. Consistent with the entire Chinese department, many people already have a background in the language, so it makes it more difficult to begin.

Jan 2004

Li Laoshi seems like a basically nice person who was thrown into a REALLY BAD situation of teaching beginning students while having *extremely* limited English skills and no prior teaching experience. As a result, this class consistently pushed the limits of acceptability in terms of consistency and clarity. She would often write in simplified characters (even on tests) and sometimes was unable to remember the correct traditional characters. More problematically, her language difficulties left me often unable to understand what our homework assignments were, what our quizzes were going to cover, when/where our drill sessions were meeting, what in-class activity we were supposed to be doing, and how to use grammar rules. As a result of these communication difficulties, I left almost every class frustrated and confused. This was not really her fault, but it was definitely a huge oversight by the department to allow someone with such limited English skills to teach the 2.5 class. Beyond her language problems though, Li Laoshi often seemed unsure of how to organize and pace the class. She would neglect to finish explaining a concept or rule but then expect to test us on it in the next class. Or she would try to assign long passages for us to memorize in two days. In those cases, most of the time, the entire class would protest and she would revise the schedule to give us some extra time. But it seemed wrong that we had to constantly do that in the first place. This course completely shook my confidence in my (admittedly already not great) language skills and my interest in trying to keep learning chinese (at least at columbia). Li Laoshi is not a mean person and she's not out to give you a bad grade, but if you have any interest in having a positive experience in learning Chinese AVOID THIS TEACHER AT ALL COSTS. I've had one other Chinese teacher at Columbia and she was great. I've also heard about other excellent instructors in the department. In short, you can do much better than Li Laoshi.

Nov 2003

I would also have to disagree with some of the criticisms for this professor. I am by no means a native speaker of chinese, but her explanations definitely are quite clear. One could criticize her for discussing material not in the text, but since she also covers the material in the book this only enriches the class, especially if you don't want to use outdated speech patterns. My major criticisms would be that she doesn't know traditional characters very well, and forgets about quizes, whether it be the material on them or the date. Otherwise, she's a decent enough professor, and the only way you're really going to learn Mandarin is by busting your ass. This is not a class or a language for those who expect to be spoon fed.

Nov 2003

*CULPA edit* learning Chinese cannot be accomplished in the two hours of class a week. Blaming Li for their Chinese language shortcomings is not the answer. The homework and quizzes are sometimes tedious, but not difficult, and absolutely essential if one hopes to learn the language. When the class does not do well on a particular quiz, she throws the grade out. When we donÂ’t understand a concept, she explains it to the best of her ability. Sometimes these explanations are not entirely adequate because of her limited English, and this is where many in the class get frustrated. Yet a simple inquiry into the textbook usually suffices to answer the classÂ’s questions. Sometimes, the answer is just a matter of common idiomatic sense. We have learned an impressive amount of Chinese in such a short time. Were we to have the greatest Chinese teacher to ever exist, we would not be able to learn much more than we are learning currently. Learning Chinese is a matter of ability and studying. No teacher is going to zip your fly.

Oct 2003

This class was incredibly disappointing. Li Laoshi speaks very little English and on top of that, she just doesn't know how to run a class. She's a very nice woman, but that doesn't make up for the fact that she gives tests on things you haven't learned. I disagree with the previous reviewer, however. The Chinese department was very accomidating when I contacted them to complain. They're letting me study on my own and have taken steps to improve Li Laoshi's teaching style by training her. Don't let this one bad teacher ruin your experience with an overall good department.

Oct 2003

Li laoshi doesn't speak english and doesn't know how to write traditional Chinese characters. This woman has absolutely none of the credentials necessary to teach an introductory traditional Chinese course to english speaking students. Hiring non-english speaking faculty to teach english speaking students a foreign language (at the introductory level, no-less) is just irresponsible. In my opinion, Li is a stellar indication of how far (or how low) the department will go to avoid paying for bona-fide, legitimate faculty and a definitive example of Columbia's amateur night Chinese language program

Oct 2003

She's nice and all, but this women cannot speak english. And ultimately, she can't communicate with her non-native speaking students. The level of teaching in this class is about what I would expect to get at the YMCA's continuing education center. In my opnion, this women is a glaring reflection of a pathetic Chinese language program which caters solely to native speakers. 2.5 credits for the amount of time it takes teach yourself (because the instrucor is totally useless) chinese is a f***ing joke.