Communication- the key to eliminating misunderstandings, solving problems and bringing people together. When one thinks of communication, we think of two things: a letter to a penpal or best friend living hundreds of kilometers/ miles away and talking to friends and family in a closed setting. I also think of communication as enjoying a cup of coffee while getting to know new people, talking with colleagues over lunch in a cafeteria like this one (this photo above was taken at the University of Bayreuth during my time as an English teacher in 2010), or even talking to parents and family members over the phone to see how life is like back home in Minnesota.
When the term communication comes to mind these days, we have the Smartphone, facebook and instagram. While they are meant to bring us together, they also separate us by not allowing the healthy face-to-face verbal communication. And while many in the older generations, especially the Baby-boomers have tried embracing the new technology, others have considered them the instrument of evil, especially when the computer language is English and it has penetrated many native languages, resulting in a bit of Denglish. 😉
And this is what takes us to this Genre of the Week, entitled “Mein Enkel.” Produced by Sebastian23, based in Cloppenburg, the short film was released in 2012 with a setting being in a semi-empty restaurant in Bochum. The characters in the film consist of three people in their 60s (specifically, the older version of the Babyboomers), a grandmother (Mathilda) and two of her male friends (Eduard and Roland), one of whom is into sugar and has problems catching up with the conversation with the other two. One of the characters (Mathilda) starts off the conversation of her grandchild registering on facebook and her being added to his friends’ list, which sets the conversation in motion about social networking using pure Denglish. Have a look at this rather “flustig” scene below:
This film has been used as a platform for many conversations and presentations on the pros and cons of social networking, specifically, who profits from this new form of communication and whether social networking is destroying the way we communicate with other people or if it a supplement to oral and written communication. Especially when Denglish (a combination of German and English) is becoming a hot subject among linguists and teachers of foreign language as many in these circles have debated on how inappropriate the language is. Personally speaking, Denglish is an informal form of communication which is best understood when people know both English and German and can speak it outside the work environment. However it is very funny to see how the language is used and therefore, there is an exercise for you to try.
- Decipher the conversation among the three characters in the story. What was the story about?
- Why do they consider the grandson’s registration on facebook to be an “epic fail?”
- What does Mathilda do with her grandson’s facebook page? Does she add him or not?
- What other social networks do they mention? Which one got the LOL by Mathilda?
- Why does Mathilda say “Opfer” after her granddaughter leaves to go play? What’s the meaning behind this?
- Who loves the sugar in the coffee?
- Discussion: What are some advantages and setbacks towards social networking?
- Discussion: When should a child have a social network page, like facebook, and under what conditions?
- Discussion: Would you introduce or even allow a friend or family member of the Babyboomer generation (like the three) to social networking? If so, how would you teach them how to use it? If not, why not?
Please note, this is good for people learning German or English as a foreign language. 🙂
You can click to the website of Sebastian23 here to see more about the German slam poet and musician: http://sebastian23.org/