I went to watch this new movie called Last Letter with my colleague, Natali Ramon. It was directed by a Japanese director named Shunji Iwai and stared by Chinese actors and actresses.
The central piece of this movie that ties all the details together is handwritten letters. With the fast development of technology, students nowadays are extremely attached to anything that is instant, especially instant messaging. This is the bridge that I discovered that I can build between my students and the culture they are learning. Regardless of their locations, the whole world shares every single moment of others’ life. I personally think that this movie has something students can relate to or, if not, we teachers can help them to find the connection with it.
A comparison between an old-fashion lengthy handwritten letter that can be kept lifelong and a modern instant brief snapchat story that disappears in couple of minutes will be an interesting strategy to convey the message to students that what real communication is. Students definitely can relate to the function of snapchat. However, we will have to find an approach to assist students to experience handwritten letter communication.
The comparison between the two ways (handwritten letter & instant message) can involve but not limited to the following: 1) emotional piece: what’s their feelings while waiting for the response? 2) the content: what are the common topics covered in there 3) Why, in your opinion, do people nowadays lose the emotional attachment to handwritten letters.
In terms of plots, due to the double roles of all main actors/actresses and the crossing of different decades, students might need a little guidance while watching it. Overall, this movie is certainly a classroom-friendly movie. I will be designing a thematic unit that I will implement in my Mandarin 4 class next semester.
This film can be analyzed on many different levels, offering many opportunites for discussion for the students. In today's high tech society with students havintg immediate access to computer, cell phone, and other digital technololgy, any presentation that addresses and includes other written and oral communcation, such as a hand-written letter, provides educational opportunities for comparison and contrast, in addition for opportunites for the benefits and liabilities for different forms of communcation. I really like this film because it is easy to watch, entertaining, has understandable dialogue, humor, and interesting characters who present different points of view. I think the students will like it, too.