Growing up I can clearly remember having to hide comic books from my teachers. I guess things have changed because tomorrow I start a series of trainings here in Peru that focus on using comic books and sequential art as a framework from which to teach english. I'm being asked to bring comics to school!
Sequential art is a powerful and effective way of story telling. Its ability to conceive of and convey information is due to the interplay between the written word and the image. Comic books and sequential art have been shown to be very effective in teaching English as a second language for the following reasons. The comic book promotes reading which is an integral skill in learning a new language. Also, the text in a comic book, in general, is comprised of colloquial English. This is an aspect of the English language most likely not covered in textbooks. Comic books can cover a wide range of subject matter and thus can be adapted to accommodate specific cultural and location specific needs. Having students actively making and reading comics promotes critical thinking skills and the imagination. Comic books present stories and information in a juxtaposed manner it is easier to learn, remember, and use language when presented in this way. Finally comic books are a fun and fantastical medium that increases student’s interest in learning. In other words comics are not “boring.”
For all of these reasons comic books and sequential art are an effective framework within which to teach language. These ideas along with suggested lesson plans are contained in the workbook Why English? Comic for the Classroom published in 2014 by the U.S. Embassy in Lima Peru. This is the work book that all the attendees will receive during the training.
I find it amazing that my love of sequential art and comic books is finally coming full circle. I guess it was not a complete waste of time reading all those comics!