I honestly don't understand why Professor Carroll's other reviews are so negative. I'm not much of a language person and was only talking this course to fulfill the requirement, but I learned significantly more than I expected to. She was very kind and clearly cared a lot about our experience in the class. She asked us about our lives and did her best to make the new vocabulary interesting. There is some truth to the complaints mentioned in the other reviews. We often had to repeat ourselves in order to make sure she understood us clearly, but usually this was not a problem if we spoke up and articulated clearly. She was also consistently late by about 5 minutes, which while irksome wasn't really that big of a deal. She did have an impatient streak but her frustrations didn't end up translating into her opinions of us. While she did sometimes cut us short, she was also willing to go above and beyond to help us out. When I had questions about future french classes, she researched them on her computer right then and there. She would stay late to help us correct our compositions and was willing to scale back on assignments when we felt they weren't manageable. My experience in this class wasn't perfect but I would recommend Professor Carroll and I don't think students should be deterred based on the other culpa reviews.
Denise Carroll is by far the worst professor I have every had both in high school and college. Perhaps some of the previous reviews had been posted prior to her complete lack of hearing and inability to follow a sentence. Although I cannot blame her for her extreme age, there are certain things a language teacher should be able to accomplish and hearing their students in order to correct them is one of them. We spend a good 15 minutes every class period trying to help her understand that what we originally said as our answer was correct or getting her to hear an answer in the first place. If she apologized and asked us to speak up, that would be one thing, but she gets angry at us for not answering questions we most certainly already have. On top of this, she is consistently 5-10 minutes late to class, does not follow the syllabus, and assigns random exercises that take hours to complete, and then never collects them. For instance, she asked us to prepare a 10 minute presentation on a European city for our class today, and at the end, says that she will have us present at random classes if there is time. She explains the most rudimentary concepts repeatedly, but often fails to address hugely important ones. I honestly learn more from looking things up online than I have ever from her. She also speaks French with a Belgian accent that is very hard to understand. I would avoid taking a class with her at all costs unless you already speak french and would be in it for the laughs..because at the end of the day, this class is so bad, it's comic.
While I could understand how some may enjoy Denise Carroll's class, I was not one of them - nor did I personally know anyone who did. She was a fairly proficient teacher, but she tended to get very frustrated with people (a huge negative, especially in my Elementary French I class). Her shortness with students may have been because of her Belgian background, but it did not help me or anyone that I knew of. She wasn't a particularly motivating teacher.
Unfortunately for Professor Carroll, she seems to always get really weird mixes of classes and just really apathetic students. I had her twice and both times the classes were full of GS students who didn't bother to show up most of the time, and when they did, never did the work, or really annoying and flaky freshman girls, or athletes who could hardly speak english. This made her job much more difficult and made her a little annoyed, but really, she is SUCH a nice professor. She really does want all her students to do well-- she'll take you aside and tell you so if you're not-- and she'll even offer you extra sessions on her own time after class that fit your schedule. She doesn't really care if you're late either (mainly because she's usually 5 minutes late as well). These french classes pretty much have a day-by-day syllabus written out for them and have to stick to the textbook so there isn't much flexibility, but she's good at laying it out for you and explaining the very detailed (and often arbitrary) rules of the language. She herself is a native speaker (she's from Brussels) so she obviously has a good grasp of the language. The one thing that really kills me about her though is her hearing. Obviously, hearing is extremely important in a class that is based on speaking and listening, but she seems to have really selective hearing. You can shout out an answer 5 times and she'll look across the room and ask the people on the other side who said the answer. Every time somebody said an answer, she almost always looked at somebody else-- it's really weird (but also funny). In all though, I'd say she's a good bet because she grades SO EASILY (seriously. really easily.) and all the exams are super straight-forward. There is NOTHING that isn't in the textbook or wasn't explained in class. She's also pretty nice and seems to always boost grades up at the end of the semester.
There is a lot to recommend an instructor who is a native French speaker - you definitely get a taste of the culture you wouldn't with someone for whom it's just a second language. Denise is Belgian, and so she will extol the virtues of Belgian beer, chocolate, and the rather wonderful Jacques Brel. She'll even show you photos of her beloved native Brussels - and it all adds greatly to the experience of learning French. You can't forget how to form the imparfait once you've heard Brel sing: "Câ€™Ã©tait au temps au Bruxelles bruxellait â€¦" or the passÃ© composÃ© after singing along to "Je vous ai apportÃ© des bonbons ..." I went straight out and bought his greatest hits. Denise has a sense of humor, which is great when you are trying to learn a foreign language. You can't take yourself too seriously when you're trying to get your tongue round those pesky French pronunciations. She can seem a little brusque, sometimes, but I think it's just a cultural thing. Denise doesn't take any cr*p, and the class moves at a nice pace - not too fast, which suited me, as I had been struggling a little. She was kind and helpful when I saw her during office hours, after getting mired in the grammar.