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Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Steve Jobs

This is a lesson plan based on a short film by Ien Chi, a Korean-American student-filmaker from Los Angeles. Ien says his ‘ultimate goal lies in creating films that can empower those who see them. Film is too powerful to simply be “entertaining.” I firmly believe that I have a responsibility to use film to explore the deeper human condition and rediscover what it exactly means to be human.’ (

 I think this is exactly true of the short film that you can see below. Watch it through, and, no, there is nothing wrong with the YouTube player with this video ;o)


The plan

Warmer: Write the following question on the board before the class starts: What would you do if you had only five minutes to live? Don’t say anything. Before too long, your learners should start talking. If not, concept check, asking things like ‘What would you like to do in your lifetime?’ ‘Is 5 minutes a long time?’ Listen to your learners, prompting them, allowing them space if they don’t want to talk personally about this question. You could ask them to think about another (famous?) person and what they might want to do before they die.

Address any language that the learners use, reformulating to a more target-like form, rewarding and recognising the learners’ input.

Further discussion: Ask your learners if they know what the following words mean:

Check your learners understand the words. Challenge them to work out the related adjectives (they could use monolingual dictionaries to find more related words as well).

Tell your learners that they are going to watch a short-film that looks at these themes and addresses the question, but that there is something unusual about it. Play the video clip (the one you see embedded above) but make sure to stop before the last quote at 4:23. Ask the learners what was strange about it (hopefully they will have noticed the fact it plays backwards). Ask them if they noticed anything relating to the words in the word cloud above.

Tell your learners that you will play the video again and that they should look out for the words cowardice, greed, indifference, laziness, and reputation, and look for what happens in the video when these words flash up (the main character, Emit’s actions, any dialogue they can read in the subtitles). Let your learners compare their ideas, then challenge them to write a short summary (in pairs or small groups) of the events that happen in the film, but in chronological order (i.e. the opposite to the order in which they appear in the video). Have different pairs/groups read their summaries/narratives, and compare. If you have time, ask one learner to come to the board to transcribe a class version.

Play the end of the film and freeze it on the Steve Jobs quote (which you can read at the beginning of this post). Ask the learners if they agree with this opinion, and why/why not. Board or note down any useful language, or areas with which your learners need some help and go over this. Finally, play the film in chronological order and check the class narrative: