Student Research Program
I took Korea 50 with Duncan, as a disclaimer. A very, very easy GE class if all you do is read the material religiously and go to discussion. The way he designed the course was very good and it gave me a general idea of Korean history even though he himself said it didn't paint the whole picture of the subject. Class consists of readings, discussions, and the exams are T/F, matching terms, and short essays of at least 3 key subjects. Very simple, just do the reading. I rarely went to class after the midterm and got an A, that's how easy this class is.
Review for Vietnamese 180A Professor Dutton is super amicable, helpful, and understanding. He always provides outlines for his lectures, and he stays on task really well. I usually write massively long reviews for mediocre to bad professors, but I really have nothing to say about Dutton except good things, which takes up less room than complaints. If there is confusion regarding due dates, he’ll send out a long, explanatory, and apologetic email and push the due date back. He stops frequently to ask if anyone has questions, and he appreciates any kind of input that you have. He actually knows your name (because he takes a picture of the class at the start of the quarter) and will say hi to you if he sees you wandering around campus. He canceled class once because his daughter was sick (he apologized a lot for that and bumped back our paper by a couple of days). He’s the most adorable dad-type professor I’ve ever had a class with. The one thing I didn’t like about this class, though, is that there is a long paper (10-12 pages) toward the end of the quarter AND a take-home final, which is essentially a series of short, 2-3 page essays. The questions for the final are based more on lecture than on the readings (though you are required to bring them in on some prompts), which is great if you pay attention in class but tend to skim the readings. You’re not graded on much in this class outside of three essays and the final, but at least in terms of the essays, if you improve over time, he’ll weigh the better essays more (otherwise they stay at a fixed percentage, IIRC). A long paper and a take-home essay final seem like overkill to me. But aside from that, and the sometimes long and boring readings (inevitable in any history class, probably), this class is totally chill, and Dutton is a great person and a great professor.
I took Japanese 1, 2, and 3 with Hayashi- sensei. She is an awesome professor! She has a very Japanese style mindset, having lived and worked in Tokyo for quite some time, so you definitely need to be able to maintain a level of professionalism in her class or she won't be too pleased. However, even though she seems a bit intimidating at first she is also very friendly and funny. Her class moves really fast (though I'm assuming all Japanese language classes move fast at UCLA) but you will be surprised and impressed by how much you learn. Her class has many components filled with lots of practice and it she integrates TA discussion sections so well with lectures that you are constantly having Japanese language skills drilled into your head. Her class has lots of components (quizzes, kanji quizzes, tests, oral recordings, oral presentations, skits, sakubuns, etc) but they never take that long to complete nor are they particularly difficult to complete. Plus all of these different components simply give you more and more practice and make you feel like you truly are learning Japanese rather than doing busy work and not feeling like you're really learning a language. If you make sure you do all of your assignments on time and study for all of the quizzes and exams (ESPECIALLY kanji quizzes) it should not be that hard to get a good grade. After taking her class I knew for sure that I wanted to minor in Japanese and I feel lucky that UCLA has such a great Japanese department right now.
I took Nogami Sensei for J4, J5, and J6 and I had to say, she was pretty strict, and can seem a little intimidating, but as long as you make an effort, she's really an amazing teacher. She constantly drills the language into your head and doesn't really give your brain a break, but its totally worth it and my Japanese is way better for it. She always puts hard work into her lectures and even though the textbook is silly, she finds ways to make the class fun and funny. Although you really have to be on your toes at all times, there's no better way to go about learning a language, and I think Nogami has it down. The teaching I mean. I've had her for a year straight, and she really gets to know you and figure our what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can improve. Really amazing.
CHINESE 150B & 180 Strassberg is very, very passionate about the material, but this doesn't actually mean his love of Chinese myth and supernatural stories makes his lectures that much more interesting - in fact, they're usually mind-numbingly boring and sometimes quite convoluted. Usually, if you ask him a clarification question during class, he won't really answer but go off on some vague tangent instead, leaving you more confused than enlightened. Aside from how boring he can be, he's very kind and approachable, and almost always willing to talk to people after class. The readings were only sometimes interesting; most of the time, they were quite lengthy and very, very dry. However, that being said, the rest of the class is relatively easy provided you at least skim the texts. The TA assigned weekly one-page essays based on the readings and/or lecture, which were clearly meant to force us to read at least a little. The midterm and final are exactly the same: 20 multiple choice questions (40% of the total grade) and one 5 page essay (60% of the grade). The midterm for C180 was 30%, and the final was 60% for some absurd reason. The multiple choice section can be tricky sometimes, and it's not unusual for people to miss over half of them, but because it's only 20 questions long, most people leave class within the first half hour. It's very, very easy to get perfect scores on all of the essays, though. As long as you answer the prompt (and not write on something else entirely), Strassberg will give you a full 60/60. He has, however, docked people 5 whole points for block quoting incorrectly. I put in a lot of effort making study guides for both 150B and 180, and I think that definitely helped, as it forced me to read the material in order to draw up summaries on the text. Most people won't want to try, though, honestly, especially once you see the workload -- in that case, get yourself a nice friend who does those study guides and is willing to share or at least collaborate, because reading is NECESSARY to do at least okay on the exams if you don't care to stay awake through lectures. (FYI, what he bases his exams on differs. Sometimes it's more lecture-based, other times it's more reading-based. The TA will let you know beforehand, though.) Also try to find people willing to split the cost of the reader, as it's usually well over $100. While there's usually a lot of overlap between classes, Strassberg's syllabus is never completely the same. He's also under the impression that $140 for a reader is a bargain, which means he churns them out like crazy. I took 150B by myself, took extensive lecture notes, and wrote up study guides on my own and got an A. I took 180 with some friends, barely paid attention in class as a result, wrote up the study guides mostly on my own but with some help, and got an A+. I studied and read much, much less and put in significantly less effort the second go-around and did better on both the midterm and final and in the class overall. I don't know if this means 180 was that much easier (I feel that it was about the same as 150B) or if I got smarter about how to deal with Strassberg's teaching methods. Or maybe I was just very lucky. tl;dr: I'd only strongly recommend taking it with people you can rely on to help you study, otherwise you'll be doing a lot of work by yourself (or for them). If you're fine with lots of reading, or if myths and ghost stories are really interesting to you, by all means, go for it.