Monthly Archives: September 2015

Immigration to the UK

Seeking refuge

When I spoke in Hamburg at a modern language conference the other day, I was asked afterwards whether I knew of any short films to do with immigration to the UK. After a little research, I found these two that I thought I’d share.

Juliane by Mosaic films is part of a series of animated shorts called Seeking Refuge that offers insights into the lives of five young refugees who have sought asylum in the UK. They were screened as part of Refugee Week by BBC2 in 2012. In this film Juliane tells of growing up in an orphanage in Zimbabwe, how she was reunited with her mother, and how they were eventually resettled in Britain.

The second On Migration is a short historical documentary by Asheq Akhtar. Accounts by his parents provide an insight into how a migrant from Bangladesh experiences the UK and how those experiences affect their personal relationships as well as the world around them.

I hope they prove useful.




The #PotterItForward movement

This short article just surfaced on The Independent website about a global campaign launched by Harry Potter fans called #PotterItForward. Apparently, they have started leaving notes in library books and donated books, outlining the impact the book(s) have had on their lives. They then share photos of their notes on social media. The article contains some of the photos that have been shared on Twitter.

It makes for an interesting discussion for mid-level students upwards as to how they would react if they found a note like this in a book they were about to read. Would they find it naff? Or would they be interested in reading what the person had to say? What book would they choose, and what would they write? Is there a book or series that many agree on, and why? After they have written their notes, they could make a collage of photos of their posts.

Mankind is no island

Mankind is no island

Mankind is no island was shot entirely on a mobile phone, using signs found on the streets of New York and Sydney. The three-and-a-half-minute short film, directed by Jason Van Genderen, deals with the topics of homelessness and empathy. Its simplicity underlines a poignant message that is especially relevant today.

Before watching the film, students should speculate what is meant by the title and whether they agree with it or not.

The title is reminiscent of a famous line in John Donne’s (1572-1631) prose work Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and is from Meditation XVII. He wrote it in 1624 when he was the Dean of St. Paul’s (Incidentally, it is here that Hemingway also found inspiration for the title of his novel For whom the bell tolls).

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. 

The film’s simple format is a fairly easy one for older students to replicate. Having watched and discussed it, they could create their own films about an issue concerning the town in which they live. Alternatively, they could choose to explain a (famous) quotation of their choice. They should, however, avoid speech and use signs around them or make one or two of their own to make things a little easier.