HELP – 411LS
American Culture through film

Term and Dates:  Spring 1, 2014
Instructor:  Rick
Office Hours:  Mondays 1pm – 3pm
Office:  14-4

Course Description:

This course is designed to help you learn about different American co-cultures as represented in popular American movies. Through the stories told in these movies, you will see different aspects of the United States and gain an increased critical understanding of what it means to be an American. You will build an appreciation and understanding for cultural differences among regions of the United States. You will critically examine how movies create a window into modern American culture and society. You will learn how to read American films as cultural texts that help us better understand history and culture.

Course Materials:

  • Netflix
  • This website:
  • Handouts from the teacher

 Instructional Methods:
The HELP Program emphasize active learning. Among the instructional methods used in this course are: pair and small group work and mini-presentations. Also, Rick’s 411LS class uses a blended learning approach; this means that you will work and communicate with Rick and other classmates via the class website (this website), and also work with your class in person, during normal class time.

Course Outcomes:

  • You will develop a basic understanding of the different cultural communities in North America, and an understanding of the different cultural regions of the U.S.
  • You will acquire the necessary vocabulary and knowledge for communicating opinions and ideas about film; You will learn “to read” a film.
  • You will learn skills and strategies for using movies and videos for lifelong study and practice of listening and speaking in English.


  • Overall Participation 40%
  • Video Circles Participation 15%
  • Vocabulary Study 15%
  • Short Presentations & Other Assignments 20%
  • Smiling, Sleeping Well, & Eating a Healthy Diet is 10%
  • (These may be changed until the end of week 2)

Attendance and English-Only Policies:
Remember that you signed an agreement to follow these policies when you entered HELP! You are impeding the learning experience of your classmates when you speak to them in their native language.

There are no excused absences from HELP classes. Any hour that you are not in class will be counted as an absence. This includes illness, TOEFL or other exams, religious services, visits from friends and relatives, etc. If you have more than five hours of absences in any one class, you will receive a letter of probation. If you have any additional absences, you receive a letter of imminent dismissal.

Please make every effort to be on time for every class. Your teacher keeps a record of each minute you are late. Your tardies my accumulate to one full class absence in the following ways:

  • Three tardies equals one absence.
  • If you are more than 30 minutes late to a class, either at the beginning or at the end, you will also receive one absence.

English-Only Policy:
In order to ensure that students make the best use of their time at HELP, all students must speak, write, listen to, and read ONLY in English at school and on school activities. You guys are 400 level students, so please do not use your native tongues.

Your Instructor:

Rick cares about you and wants for your education at HELP to be valuable and enjoyable. If you have questions, concerns, or worries of any kind about your studies in 331R, you must meet with Rick and communicate these feelings. Rick will do everything within his power to help you. He will work hard for you because he cares about you. He is your friend now and always.  If he can help you in any way with any other problems, please ask him.

Please sleep well and eat well! Your health is very important! 


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