Term Paper, 2012
11 Pages, Grade: 2,8
3. Analyze Main Topics
3.1. American Dream „if you want something go and get it“
3.2. Poverty „possible means no“
3.3. Relationship father-son „you gotta trust me, all right?“
3.4. Money “the pursuit of happiness”
5. Teaching sequence
5.1. Teaching sequence: Diary of a homeless
This term paper was created for the seminar „Teaching (with) films“ by the instructor in the module TEFL II at the Justus-Liebig-University in the winter semester 2011/12.
One of the most important new aspect of the seminar was, that movies are very useful for the EFL classroom. “Foreign language films are useful in second language classrooms both because they show the target language being spoken in context by native speakers and because they provide richly detailed historical or cultural background information” (Teasley 1997: 131). Compared to only reading a story, films are easier to understand because of the fact, that films combine picture and sound, so many senses of the learner are involved. Henseler, Möller and Suhrkamp also state the benefits of using films in the EFL classroom as following:
Au ß erdem kommen in Filmdialogen neben verbalen auch non-verbale und paralinguistische Aspekte von Kommunikation wie Mimik, Gestik und K ö rpersprache bzw. Intonation, Sprechtempo und Sprechpausen zur Geltung, die Bestandteil jeder m ü ndlichen Kommunikation sind, aber im Fremdspracheunterricht h ä ufig zu wenig ber ü cksichtigt werden (Henseler, Möller, Suhrkamp 2011: .9).
As you can see, showing films as an entertaining media, offers a wide range of benefits for learning a foreign language.
Compared to other film analyzes who that of the opportunity of working with films in the way of the cinematic aspects or the stylistic analyzes (which focus on the music, colors, camera angle etc.), I decided to analyze on the content of a movie for the relevance of using it conform to the German curriculum in a EFL class.
The goal of this work is to show possibilities and to analyze the usability for working with the film “the pursuit of happyness” (spelled on purpose with an “y” instead of an “i”) in class. I will start with a summarize of the films content in a short form (chapter two). Chapter three will introduce and analyze the main topics of the film. In chapter four, the main part of this term paper, will try to explain why this film is a good choice for working with it in the EFL classroom. Hereby I will try to show how this film can be embedded in topics of the German curriculum.
The movie “the pursuit of happyness” was directed by Gabriele Muccino, released in 2006 and rated PG-13. The movie with Will Smith in the role of Christopher Gardner “Chris” and his real son Jaden Smith (Christopher jun.) as the main Characters is based on a true story. The story plays in 1981 in San Francisco. Chris tries to make money as a salesman by selling bone-density scanners which does not work out the way he thought it would. But instead of looking for a new job, he keeps on trying selling them and ruins the relationship to his wife. His wife leaves him and their son and moves to New York for a better life. Totally broke and poor, he still tries to make life by selling the scanners and raising Christopher at the same time. Soon, they lose their home because Chris is not able to pay the rent anymore. A hard time starts for them. Sometimes they are lucky and get a place to sleep in a shelter for homeless people, sometimes they have to sleep in public toilets. A lucky coincidence brings him the opportunity to apply for a job as a stockbroker in a company called Dean Witter. Still trying to sell his scanners to make money, he has to go through six months of training at Dean Witter, without getting paid for this. He has to graduate as the best of nineteen other candidates to get the job. After an unbelievable journey which most people would have given up, he wins the internship and his life changes rapid to the better side.
To describe the American dream you can use the quote “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. All over the world people have the American lifestyle in mind or the way of life by hearing the topic “American dream”. “The land of the unlimited possibilities” moved million of people in the 18th century to leave their countries and to start a new life in America. The title of the movie relates significant to the Declaration of Independence and indicates that one of the main topics of the film is about the American Dream.
Starting in the first part of the film the family is living at the margins of society, the relationship in the family suffers in economic fears, poverty and the possibility of the total loss of everything. As a result Linda, the mother leaves the family. Now Chris has to raise Christopher all by himself and to earn money for living at the same time. Even he is hart struggling for existence they are living under the subsistence level. They lose their money, their apartment and have to survive somehow as a homeless family. They cannot go down anymore as they already are. But Chris never gives up on his dream of a good life. One day he is staying outside of a broker company and is impressed by the so happy seeming people who are walking in and out of that building. He wants to become part of this happy society. He thinks that he is able to do it because he is really good with working and remembering numbers. Chris gets the opportunity to absolve an unpaid six month training in that company together with nineteen other candidates. At the end only one of them will get the job there. He fights everyday for it. The classical “American dream” starts now. From rags to riches. Chris is trying harder than anyone else to make his dream come true. He works like a machine; he is running everyday from one opportunity to the next. While raising Christopher and working at the company he still has to sell the scanners at the same time, to earn money. After six months of more than extreme hard work he manages to fulfill his dream and gets the job. The harsh time in their life is finally over.
The story of the film shows the possibility to make your dreams come true in America by working really hard. You cannot reach your dreams if you do not work hard enough for it. Everyone is responsible for their own well being. A big point in critic would be that the film does not respond in any way to the importance of education. Today it would be also almost impossible in the USA to get a good job without a good education.
Another big topic of the film is the poverty which appears in many different aspects in the movie. At first you see the family which is badly influenced by the poverty. The poverty ruins the atmosphere of the family. Chris and Linda are fighting about money the whole time and are not able to live without counting on every dollar. As a result, Linda is full of economic fears and decides to leave the family.
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