Sunday, December 23, 2012

Using Comics in ELT Classroom


There are many advantages in using comics in ELT.
Comics make learning fun as students are able to experiment  different activities. This makes the lesson exhilarating and exciting for the students.
Comics provoke comment and thought on events and issues. This allows students to be vocal and encourages debates and results in the students’ ability to speak well. The visual element in comics motivates students to pay more attention and tell a complex story in a few images, thereby learning summarizing skills.

Comics involve Multiple Intelligences and engage the students in the various learning dispositions resulting in students enhancement in learning. Comics promotes reading as comics are cheap and convenient resources from newspaper bookstands, bookshops and the internet. Using comics in the classroom promotes a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere in the classroom and is suitable for all genders. It allows  students to comment and illustrate on issues that related to family, relationships, friendships and school to name a few.

Using comics motivates reluctant readers and engages urban youths who read less and therefore develops the comprehension skills of learners. Comics are a great source for teaching narrative structure, characterization, Maths, poetry, sequencing, storytelling, comparison and writing. Comics is a great tool to teach struggling students. Comics enable students to pay attention, to extract information, to communicate ideas and emotions clearly and to use both words and images.


Using comics may result some disadvantages in ELT practice.

Comics may cause confusion in language use such as spelling and pronunciation that affect less efficacy students  struggle to learn. The overuse of  colloquial referential may cause difficulty to students in coping with learning. Some comics use inappropriate language or wrong usage of grammar, subject-verb agreement, tenses and vocabulary. Comics that use foul language and slang words are unsuitable for classroom teaching. Some comics depict violence and this is not suitable for young students to be exposed to. Comics normally use the active voice in the narrative boxes. Students may find it difficult to understand the passive voice.


In selecting comics, teachers should bear in mind that  not all comics are suitable for using in the classroom.

Comics that are chosen must have interesting plots to keep the attention of the students. Comics should be selected based on the age  of the students in a particular group as well as ability of the students and their gender. Choosing comics that have rich thought or speech bubbles tend to encourage language learning. Comics that are chosen must depict good moral values; which will provide positive influence to the students.

After a comic strip is chosen or the lesson,  the objectives and aims should be clearly informed  to the students so that they will know what to expect from the lesson. When preparing a lesson using comics, the teacher should know the characters well and must be flexible with students responses on the characters.

Finally, The teacher must ensure that all students participate in the comics activity.


In choosing comics for a lesson, care should be taken not to use comics that depict too much of  negative elements such as violence, foul language and obscene pictures. There should be proper spacing of the activities in a lesson. The task given should be according to the given text: a simple task should not be given with a very difficult text. Teachers should avoid using comics from foreign countries that do not reflect our culture and social values as students may be confused. If a foreign one is to be used, some cultural differences must be explained in ahead.


Using comics in the classroom is a way to reach students with many different learning styles. Its storytelling nature helps a student to make a story about any subject that he or she is interested in because cartoon character appeals to the learning tendencies of most students.

Comics relate to the specific Multiple Intelligences in the following ways:

a.     Verbal/Linguistic

There is no limit to what words can do in a comic. Students are free to use vocabulary which is unlimited within the context of the topic given. This builds  students’ vocabulary power and therefore directly influences as well as motivates the students to explore the use of the language more confidently.

b.     Visual/Spatial

Cartoon drawings are naturally spatial. Placing the characters in sets and backgrounds encourages spacial learning. Students understand the subject better when they understand the special area of the subject.

c.      Mathematical

Comics involves mathematical arrangements as they experiment with sizes and patterns of panel arrangements. This helps students absorb mathematical elements indirectly when they use comics to learn.

d.     Kinetic/Bodily

This area of comics appeals to students because the actions of the cartoon characters in story attract their attention, and with  reduced text and more images, learning will greatly be enhanced.

e.      Interpersonal

Using comics helps students to relate to the characters in the story. This enables students to understand the story and take interest in learning.

f.       Intrapersonal

Comics has  a way of exploring the moods of the characters in the story. This appeals to students as, through comics, students learn to understand the affective elements in the characters in the subjects of the stories they read; especially in the study of English literature.

g.     Naturalistic

Through comics, students understand and get to explore their natural surroundings. They will be able to sequence events given in questions in the classroom.

h.     Musical/Rhythmic

Comics’ storytelling is rhythmic. By using repetition of panels, students are encouraged to produce innovative and abstract stories. This enhances students’ learning power.