Mack was one of my favorite professors, for his personality, helpfulness, and humor. He made A LOT of time for me during office hours, and made me like French, which I had disliked in other classes. Vocabulary lessons and discussions about readings were super fun. He does a lot of genealogy and translation, which is different from other profs. We had a really great classroom ambiance by the end of the semester. My favorite text was probably AmÃ©lie Nothomb's book, which is hard at first but which you become addicted to by the end. I really liked that he included songs from popular culture for the translation exercises, by the end of the semester we had a whole album to listen to, songs which I often listen to again.
Intermediate French Out of all the French classes I've taken at Columbia, this has by far been the most frustrating one. Right off the bat, Professor Mack is no doubt a really nice guy. He makes time to speak to students and is generally just very pleasant. That's probably why it's so irritating to dislike this class as much as I do. It's not hard to get an A in this class--do the homework, study for the tests, and participate every once in awhile. What really drives me crazy though is this man's lack of a systematic grading system. In every French class, you'll get two opportunities to write any given composition--the first and second draft. He hastily grades all of the first drafts, gives you a preliminary grade and then makes you do the corrections he's made for a second grade. It's all pretty standard, except when you get your second draft back and realize you did worse the second time around than the first. How is this possible? Well, he realizes while reading the second draft that he completely forgot to catch and correct a number of things and then punishes you for them by lowering your grade. Why would a student be punished for what the professor did not grade the first time? What's even more annoying is the paragraph he makes you write in english on the second draft about all the mistakes you made. Really, how many times can you say conjugation errors? Does he want you to list out every specific mistake you made? This does not help in any way whatsoever. In general, class is fine. regular grammar and reading samples. a few times, he just won't know something but i suppose that's normal with french teachers. if he really can't explain something, he'll say it in english, which i'm incredibly against. At this level, we shouldn't be speaking english in class at all, but that's just my opinion. don't be surprised on the test (which are way too long) if he includes things that we never went over or things he never even mentioned. he STRICTLY follows the department-wide syllabus for all the material covered on the test, despite the fact that we are never on schedule with it. this makes studying quite annoying.
Great professor. Mack does a really thorough job of explaining the material, which is sometimes very difficult. He's a nice guy and is very available to read papers or explain the materials. The discussion in class is good, not intimidating, sometimes pretty laid-back. That said, the reading for the class is ridiculous. Two huge course packets plus additional essays/texts that are almost all very dense. A few readings are in English. You don't necessarily have to read everything, but you need to read a good amount of it to write responses and participate in class, and there are passage IDs and pretty specific open-ended questions on the midterm and final. The syllabus is pretty new so some things might be revised, but there are some absolutely absurd readings that are like 200 pages of French dialectic about philosophy/political policy/post-colonial economics, whatever. Take this class if you're ready to read and want an introduction to French/Francophone thought about race, colonization, modernization, negritude, creolite... It's a solid course and you learn a lot if you have the time to do the reading, go to every class, or both. Mack is definitely a great choice to tackle it.
Good professor overall! Fairly new, I think, but Iâ€™m betting that he will only get better and better. I took French and Francophone Studies I with him, and it was a good class. He lectures a lot, but presents information clearly and definitely helps you understand the texts studied. He's also very helpful and available to help edit papers, etc. I think next time heâ€™s teaching French and Francophone Studies II, which is a different class, but it will probably be a similar set up and heâ€™s definitely a good teacher anyway.
Each class is mainly composed of going over grammar rules, which can get quite tedious and boring. Mack shows up to class with a strict lesson plan, and he doesn't deviate from it. It's sometimes annoying when he can't answer a question, but he always looks the information up and gets back to you. Mack cares a lot for his students and is really pleasant to talk to. He reads papers quickly and gives feedback well. Overall, I would recommend the teacher but not the class.