Thursday, August 2, 2012

Joy Luck Club - Dining Disaster

This video clip is from the well-known movie The Joy Luck Club: a film about intergenerational conflict between Chinese immigrants and their Chinese American children.  In this clip the American born daughter takes her traditional American boyfriend for dinner to her parents’ home. During the dinner a number of situations arise that sometimes suggest significant differences in cultural values between the boyfriend and the girl’s parents.
The clip is made easier for students in terms of language because of the addition of subtitles.  Learners at pre-intermediate level should manage a general understanding because of this.  The visual element also helps the viewer appreciate the problems that occur for the boyfriend during the meal.  However to fully appreciate the possible reasons for the cross-cultural conflict that occurs, a lot of language scaffolding might be needed. 
For further analysis of the cross-cultural issues visit:

Because of the visual support provided for students this video clip could form the foundation for discussion at pre-intermediate level up to advanced level although the level and focus of analysis would vary significantly.  At pre-intermediate level, students could be asked questions about what happened, who did what, how people responded etc.   In other words the focus is simply reporting what was observed and is language-based.  Practice using the past simple tense seems one possible focus area for language.  However, at upper-intermediate levels the concepts of cross-cultural conflict could be explored, with students suggesting reasons for the incidents that occur during the dinner rather than simply reporting what they saw.  A follow-up activity could be to construct a list of do’s and don’ts, perhaps using conditional sentences, for anyone about to face a similar, or slightly different, experience.
See this clip at:

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