When I was younger I used to read detective comics called Julia, it was a quite popular monthly publication in Italy so many of my friends were also reading it, and we were having fun sharing ideas and comments on the character, sequence of events etc. In January I attended a brilliant EVO session on Storytelling for young learners. Surprisingly, one of our tasks was to explore and use some tools to create comics. What a great task! I immediately got the inspiration to use it class, it was a success.
Comics have always been a lot of fun for young learners and teenagers, the use of pictures and the clear context help them to practically visualise a situation. Creating a comic they develop the ability to plan a sequence of events, and to set a suitable context.
There are many interesting comic creation tools. Here is a short list of the once I have used so far, but there are many more to try!
Stripgenerator: It’s easy to use and doesn’t require a registration for students.
Bubblr: you can create comic strips with Flickr pictures and add bubbles!
ToonDoo: you can create your comic book and even upload and modify pictures for your comics.
Make beliefs comix: create your comic, easily select emotions, objects, baloons and panel prompts.
Participating in the EVO session and following Janet Bianchini’s Scoop, I got many practical classroom ideas. Here are the most popular among my teenage students.
Practising new grammar structures > I have used comic strips to practice and improve the ability to ask questions.
I first gave students the structure of the strip (example: 4 pictures, 2 characters in each picture). Then I asked them to write at least 4 questions and answers at the Present Simple.
Imaginary interview > I asked students to write an imaginary interview to an imaginary character. We had an initial brainstorming on the character (age, appearance, skills, job, personality). Once students got the idea they planned and then wrote their interviews.
Practising vocabulary > Students were asked to create a comic strip using the words given or a specific context.
Storytelling > Students write comic strips based on personal anecdotes.
Comic strips are also very good for teachers to create interesting handouts for boring grammar rules
Further reading: Doing some research on this field, I found this very interesting presentation by S. Hendy.
Tap into the world of comics