- Name of Teacher: Hollie Lightsey
- Class/Grade/Language Level: Junior High School 3rd Graders
- Textbook and specific lesson: New Horizon: Writing + 1 手紙 pg. 20-21
- Goal: Students will use the English they have learned to write a real fan letter
- Preparation: Print pictures of several famous people to use as examples & look up fan mail addresses
- Class time: 2 hours (2 classes)
At the beginning of class to warm up, ask the students what their favorite movie is, and who their favorite actor is. Try to get the students to name international or foreign movies and actors. You can then show them some of the actors you have printed pictures of. I also sometimes get flyers from the local cinema for new movies coming out. Students will usually name and recognize people like Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp, Milla Jovovich, Brad Pitt, and Daniel Radcliffe. Next, you can explain to them that today we will be writing letters to some of these people. Students can choose whoever they like to write to.
On pg. 20 of the textbook there is a sample letter. Go over this to give the students an idea of what kind of letter they will be writing. Important things to point out to them are first the date, and then the letter heading “Dear ~ or Hello ~”. For the contents of the letter I tell the students that the first 3-4 sentences should be about themselves; their name, how old they are, where they are from, their hobbies, and what they like. The middle should contain 3-4 sentences about the actor or singer expressing exactly why the student likes them and what some of their favorite songs or movies are. The last part should contain a question or two that the student wants to ask the actor and some other phrase or summary. For example, “I hope you come to Japan soon!” or “Please visit Kumamoto someday!” I also have them make sure to ask for an autograph or a picture. “May I have your autograph?” Total, the students should have a bare minimum of 10 sentences. Of course, they can write however many they need to express what they want to say! The longer and more detailed the better. You can use pg. 21 of the textbook to have the students make an outline of their letter.
The first class will cover the 2 pages in the textbook with time left over for students to start writing their letter. I usually give them by the start of the next class period to turn it into me and have it checked. I will then return it to them with corrections and give them a nice white pre-lined A4 sheet for them to write the final draft. I also encourage them to use colors or draw a picture as well. It’s surprising how creative your students can be when given the chance. They have the whole 2nd class period to work on their letter. If they don’t finish, I usually give them until the end of the week to get it turned it to me. Some students really want to take the time to make their letter nice so they work on it in between class periods or at home.
Please note this lesson is best done before summer vacation. If you want to actually send the letters, then it will take from 2-4 months to get a response. It’s best to time it so that summer vacation takes up a good portion of the waiting time. To send the letters, you will need an international reply coupon. You can get these from the post office for 150 yen. It’s called 国際返信切手券. You will also need to include a return self-addressed envelope (I usually put the school’s address). You can look up the fan mail addresses on the www.fanmail.biz website. Because you cannot guarantee your students will get a response, I often encourage them to write to people who have a good reply rate according to that website. Some of the actors I have had success with are Milla Jovovich, Daniel Radcliffe, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Jackie Chan, Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, and Shia LeBeouf. If you have any further questions feel free to email me. Good Luck!