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Comics in the TEFL Classroom

A Singloids Comic Strip

Comics are a useful – and fun – TEFL resource.

Comics are an excellent way to introduce your TEFL students to current, everyday English, in a non academic format.

Comics are ideal because

  • they are simple to understand (because they’re accompanied by pictures which often help explain)
  • they are hugely popular in many countries
  • they cover a wide range of subjects so you can find comics suitable for all ages and levels and interests
  • they’re fun!

In this article we’re talking about comic strips – often just a few frames like the one illustrated here – but once the class is used to the idea you can bring more extended comics into the classroom.

TEFL Activities with Comics

You can create great lessons around a comic strip. Here are a few ideas.

  • Select a comic strip that can be suitable for your students and blank out the text in some of the speech bubbles. Photocopy that and hand it out to your class. Encourage students to think of what the characters might say or think, and get them to write it in the empty speech bubble. Then with the whole class go through some of the answers suggested and compare them to the original to see if they managed to create a better comic strip!
  • Supply the text in the speech bubbles as simple text, without putting it into sequence or saying who said it. Then supply pictures of the characters whose words you have transcribed. Ask your students to match words with characters.
  • Cut up your comic strip and jumble up the frames. Get students to put them in the right order.
  • Get your students to create their own comic strip. You can restrict the activity to target problem areas like a specific grammar‏‎ item or new vocabulary by getting them to base their strip around it. To increase motivation you can have each student portray themselves as a carton character or get each student portray their classmate.
  • [This idea is ideal for an ongoing project.] Select a suitable theme for a home made comic strip and divide the class in two teams. Get one team to work on the text for the speech bubbles and the other on creating the characters. Set a specific time during which students can work together – perhaps 10mins before the end of each lesson. Once the preparation work is completed bring the two teams together and work on building the comic strip as a class. Once competed display it in class or in the school hall for all to see!

You can adapt these ideas, and expand on them, to fit various levels and ages. You can also use them to get students to work in pairs, groups or individually.

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