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Component 2 – Introduction to American Culture

This component has three parts, organized here as three different non-credit courses.

It assumes a program enrollment of two dozen Chinese students. As addressed in the other components, they will spend the morning, Monday through Friday, in the ESL classroom instruction and TOEFL preparation. In addition, they will get an introduction to US higher education and have the possibility of enrolling in select undergraduate courses.

The three courses in Component 2 provide context for their language-learning, especially their vocabulary-building, and the knowledge and skills, both tacit and explicit, that they need to begin their integration into U.S. culture.

Contemporary U.S. Culture

This course of lectures, readings, and discussions will give the students an analytical overview of U.S. culture, history, and geography.

It will meet two afternoons per week for two hours.

Experiencing U.S. Culture

In this course, the students will directly experience U.S. culture in organized individual and group activities. The activities will be scheduled to coordinate with the topics in the Contemporary U.S. Culture course.

It will meet Monday afternoon to plan the week’s activities and Friday afternoon to plan the weekend’s activities.

Documenting U.S. Culture

The students will use Internet, social media, and video making software as well as live performance to document their experiences in the U.S.

It will meet two afternoons per week for hands-on instruction as well as Friday afternoons for open lab.

Possible Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Weekend
Morning ESL ESL ESL ESL ESL Experiencing
Afternoon U.S. Culture
Documenting U.S. Culture
Documenting Documenting Experiencing
Evening Experiencing Experiencing Experiencing Experiencing Experiencing Experiencing

This schedule is for the 13 weeks of the regular semester, a total of six months. During the times when classes are not in session, the Experiencing and Documenting can continue, especially the parts that are off-campus.

Student and course evaluation

These courses are not for credit. While feedback and formative evaluation are important, grades are not. Only the Contemporary U.S. Culture course is based on traditional knowledge transfer, with readings and lectures. Traditional tests, then, can provide useful formative feedback for the students and objective data for the program director to correlate with the ultimate objective outcome, post-program TOEFL scores.

For the other two courses, the outcomes are divergent. Nor will these courses stay within the traditional boundaries of the classroom/semester. The students will have their experiences and their documentation of those experiences. For the program director, the students’ reflections and online documentation will provide subjective material for program evaluation.

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