#CdnELTchat: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Language

downloadThis is a summary of the bi-monthly Twitter chat on the hashtag #CdnELTChat.

#CdnELTchat (Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Language)

October 8, 2019

by Jennifer Chow

My interest in graphic novels began when my oldest borrowed Shaun Tan’s The Arrival from the library. As she grew up, we read many more graphic novels together, including all of Raina Telgemeier’s insightful stories, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese and most recently, the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. That is why I was especially interested in how graphic novels can be used in the adult EAL classroom.

On the night of the chat, we were excited to have a couple of first-time #CdnELTchat-ters join the conversation. We hope to have even more first timers join us next time. Thank-you to our moderators, Bonnie Nicholas and Augusta Avram, and all those who added their thoughts before, during and after the chat.

Here are a few of the ideas that came out of the chat:

  • graphic novels offer opportunities for the development of visual literacy and multimodal skill
  • although they are easier to read, they bring the benefits of reading a book
  • graphic novels are more conversational, so reading them aloud encourages pronunciation practice
  • webcomics may be more accessible because they are usually free
  • they can encourage reluctant readers
  • they can be used as a scaffold for writing a coherent story
  • graphic novels offer opportunities for adult ELLs to explore new worlds from a safe space
  • they challenge  us to consider sources of knowledge and learning other than the traditional ones
  • instructors should model making connections between the images and text and teach the order of reading the text
  • it’s important to pay attention to who the authors and illustrators are when using comics, especially when your goal is to introduce diverse perspectives and ensure representation
  • instructors need more training in how to use them
  • learners need access to them
    • online options are available
    • library outreach might be possible

All the resources that were shared can be found here: Resources for using comics and graphic novels to teach language. Please feel free to add resources to this live document.

These are the questions that guided the chat:

Q1: Have you used graphic novels or comics in your classes? Which ones?  #CdnELTchat

Q2: What tools and resources are needed to start using comics and graphic novels in your classes?  #CdnELTchat

Q3: Because of the visual element, comics and graphic novels may be more accessible to ELLs, especially literacy learners. How can we use comics to enhance language learning in our classes?  #CdnELTchat

Q4: Fiction can be one way to introduce ELLs to different perspectives and to have a more inclusive representation in learning materials. How can we use comics in this way?  #CdnELTchat

Q5: What learning outcomes could be met by using graphic novels with adult ELLs? How can comics and graphic novels be used to develop skills besides reading?  #CdnELTchat

You can find the tweets by searching Twitter for our hashtag, #CdnELTchat, but we’ve also collected the tweets from both the live and the follow-up asynchronous chat using Wakelet: #CdnELTchat Summary on Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Language.

The #CdnELTchat team is looking for people who would be interested in facilitating one of our bi-monthly chats.  Please let a member of the team know if you are interested in co-moderating a live chat, or in collecting and writing the summaries which are posted on the BC TEAL and TESL Ontario blogs. Other provincial #ELT associations are also welcome to share. If you would like to volunteer, or have ideas for chats, contact any of us: Jennifer @jennifermchow, Augusta @ELTAugusta, Svetlana @StanzaSL, or Bonnie @EALStories.  Post ideas anytime on our Padlet, https://padlet.com/BonnieJean/CdnELTchat.