When I first started creating lesson plans to go with comic books, I did a lot of research. I wanted to know for a fact that graphic novels could be used educationally and how and why they could be beneficial. I learned a lot!
Here is what I learned about comics and English language learners (ELL).
1. ELL students need to practice speaking English conversationally. Comics have a tremendous amount of dialogue. When ELLs read comics aloud, they get practice participating in conversations in fun, non-pressure situations.
2. ELL students need to increase their vocabulary. Comics are vocabulary rich! They have to be in order to tell a story in tiny bites. When ELLs read comics, they encounter a wide variety of high level vocabulary.
3. ELL students struggle with reading comprehension. Comics include a vast array of graphics. When ELLs read comics, the graphics support their reading comprehension.
4. ELL students lack reading confidence. A full page of words can be terrifying. Comics break up the words into "bite-size" pieces. When ELLs read comics, they have breaks in the reading so that it is less intimidating.
5. ELL students may experience cultural discomfort. Most popular comics have been translated into a wide variety of languages and are available world-wide. Seeing a superhero in English that was experienced before in another language can provide comfort.
Tamarie Tigh, National Consultant
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