Contemporary American Culture

This ESL1 course offers an overview of American culture today (2000). It begins with a brief history of the U.S., then moves on to the following cultural issues:

  1. American educational system:
  2. General outline of American educational system;
  3. Personal relations between people in an academic setting.
  4. Race relations in America:
  5. Blacks in America;
  6. Other ethnic groups;
  7. Indigenous Americans (Indians);
  8. Interaction strategies.
  9. American family life:
  10. Marriage and divorce;
  11. Finances;
  12. Family relationships.
  13. Gender relations in America:
  14. Traditional versus modern (feminist) gender roles;
  15. Sexual harassment and assault:
  16. Interaction strategies.
  17. American politics:
  18. American political system;
  19. American foreign policy;
  20. America’s immigrant populations.
  21. Social etiquette in America:
  22. Frankness and tact;
  23. Competition and cooperation;
  24. Privilege and misfortune;
  25. Personal appearance.
  26. Business in America:
  27. Employers and employees;
  28. Hiring and firing—resumes and remedies;
  29. Personal relations between workers and supervisors;
  30. Meetings and negotiations;
  31. The public and private sectors.
  32. American recreation:
  33. Friendship;
  34. Formation of friendships;
  35. Socializing—restaurants, shopping, and other activities;
  36. Mass media;
  37. Travel;
  38. Logistics—airports, hotels, and other conveniences; ii, Purposes;
  39. Sports.

The primary text for this course is The United States of America by Yuri
Golitsinsky. This text provides the historical part of the course (Sections Two and Four of the text), and begins the approach to cultural issues (Section Three). Additional texts adapted from newspaper articles of the late nineties are provided by the instructor. Assorted sources of cultural interest are also used (e.g. Under Eastern Eyes: The West as Reflected in Recent Emigre Writing, edited by Arnold McMillin). The reference materials for this course will be standard dictionaries (English and English-Russian/Russian-English) as well as NTC’s American Idioms Dictionary.

The instructor of this course, Breton Carr, received a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1998. He also holds a BA in philosophy from the same institution (1979). Mr. Carr has been teaching ESL in St. Petersburg and California for the last seven years (see attached letters). He also has ten years business experience in the retail trade in California (San Francisco Bay Area).

In order to cover the material described in this syllabus, at least 25 hours of instruction will be required. It would be best to have up to 50 hours for this course, in order for students to receive the full benefit of the ESL component. Three-hour sessions, twice a week, for either one or two months, is the best scheduling for this course.

1 «English as a Second Language». This course will be conducted in English, students will be expected to be able to converse in English, and the instructor will focus on language problems characteristic of Russian ESL students.

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