Comprehension by using Comics

Comprehension Through Comics

The best way to learn a foreign language is to speak it. How many times have you heard that one? If it’s as many times as I have then you’re probably wondering, “Why aren’t my language skills getting as strong as my jaw muscles from all this talking?” That’s because talking and listening are only two slices of the language acquisition pie, the missing wedge of that pie is—you guessed it—reading. These days it’s difficult to get most people motivated to read anything longer than a tweet (though I suspect if you are reading this blog post, you probably don’t have that problem), but if you’re learning a language, reading is a must.

comic 2

While speaking practice does serve many purposes, motivation, fluency, and exposing gaps in your vocabulary and grammar skills, approaching your studies with a conversation-over-literacy attitude is like trying to drive a car with no tires: you’ll get nowhere fast. The truth is, speaking and reading have a symbiotic relationship that results in you becoming a language dynamo. When you speak in a foreign language, you give yourself the gift of fluency. When you read in a foreign language, you give yourself something in which to be fluent. Through reading, you can learn new words and grammar structures that you can use to better express your thoughts vocally.

Once you decide to crack open a book in the name of language acquisition, a new problem presents itself: what to read? I have a few suggestions, but the one we’ll talk about today is comics. comic

Holy bound books, Batman! You mean comics can help me gain language skills? Indeed I do. Either in their periodical format as comic books, or in the form of stand-alone graphic novels, reading stories told through sequential art can aid comprehension and give students who may not be ready to read a text novel a middle step with which to gain confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

How can comics and graphic novels help me learn a language if there’s minimal text to be read? I’m glad you asked. Because the text is so limited, there’s less descriptions of setting—we don’t really need this with comics anyway since we can see what’s going on—and the the focus gets put on plot and dialog. No better way to learn grammar structures than to read something that consists of mainly dialog, and there’s no better way to stay interested in that dialog than if it’s about something you find stimulating rather than the usual, dry dialog found in language texts.

People often say a picture is worth a thousand words; it’s worth stating that illustrations are also pretty valuable and can net you a few comprehension clues. True language acquisition happens when words are connected to meanings and not just parroted back to the teacher. Comics help with this. Whereas with an all-text novel a student may consult a dictionary more often than they’d like, a pictorial representation of the scene taking place may make the reader feel more comfortable inferring the meaning of an unknown word. When that educated guess is confirmed as comprehension, the reader gains motivation and confidence which, let’s be honest here, are driving forces to language learning success. So get out there and find a comic or graphic novel you like in a language you love and start reading!

Are you already a reader of comics? If so, which is your favorite? If not, why not?

Read More Here…


Key Terms…
  • as many times as ↔ tantas vezes quanto
  • language skills ↔ competências linguísticas
  • as strong as my jaw muscles ↔ tão forte quanto meus músculos da mandíbula
  • slices ↔ fatias
  • acquisition pie ↔ torta de “aquisição”
  • missing wedge ↔ fatia faltando
  • you guessed it ↔ você adivinhou
  • though I suspect ↔ embora eu suspeite que…
  • a must ↔ uma obrigação
  • While ↔ Embora, Apesar de
  • many purposes ↔ muitas finalidades, propósitos
  • exposing gaps in your vocabulary ↔ revelando as falhas no seu vocabulário
  • approaching ↔ abordar, tratar
  • conversation – over – literacy ↔ (attitude que trata conversa melhor do que habilidade de ler)
  • tires ↔ pneus
  • you’ll get nowhere fast ↔ você não vai conseguir nada rápido
  • dynamo ↔ dínamo; boa combinação
  • gift ↔ presente; dom
  • Through ↔ Através de
  • crack open ↔ abrir
  • in the name of ↔ a fim de
  • presents itself ↔ se apresenta
  • comics ↔ história em quadrinhos
  • Holy bound books , Batman ↔ Santos livros encadernados, Batman (Estilo de Robin falar com o Batman: “Holy …, Batman”)
  • You mean ↔ Quer dizer que…
  • stand – alone ↔ standalone (independente e separado)
  • told through sequential art ↔ contada através de arte sequencial
  • aid ↔ ajudar; auxiliar
  • a middle step ↔ uma etapa intermediária
  • accomplishment ↔ realização
  • setting ↔ cenário
  • anyway ↔ de qualquer maneira
  • plot ↔ enredo
  • No better way to learn ↔ Não há melhor maneira de aprender
  • stimulating ↔ estimulate
  • rather than ↔ em vez de
  • dry dialog ↔ diálogo seco/chato
  • stating that ↔ dizer que
  • valuable ↔ valioso
  • can net you ↔ pode render-lhe; pode te ajudar em pegar
  • clues ↔ dicas; pistas
  • meanings ↔ significados
  • parroted back ↔ repetidas de volta
  • Whereas ↔ Enquanto…
  • pictorial ↔ pictórico
  • taking place ↔ ocorrendo
  • unknown ↔ desconhecido
  • educated guess ↔ um bom palpite (tentar adivinhar com a maior preisão possível)
  • driving forces ↔ forças motrizes
  • So get out there ↔ Então, saia daqui e… (começar fazer algo)
  • reader ↔ leitor


as many times as tantas vezes quanto
Também é possível executar este programa quantas vezes o usuário desejar. ↔You can also execute this program as many times as you like.
slices fatias
Cut the pie into slices. ↔Corte a torta em pedaços.
He cut off a slice of meat. ↔Ele cortou uma fatia de carne.
missing wedge fatia faltando
though I suspect embora eu suspeite que…
I’ll be back, though I suspect it’s going to be increasingly hard to get a table.  
Whether Delia is happy about all this remains a mystery, though I suspect not.  
While Embora, Apesar de
While I understand what you say, I can’t agree with you. ↔Apesar de entender o que você quer dizer, não concordo com você.
many purposes muitas finalidades, propósitos
A brincadeira serve vários objectives: relaxamento, aprendizagem e exercício. ↔Play serves many purposes: it is relaxation, learning and exercise all bundled into one.
O gás natural tem-se tornado um combustível cada vez mais atractivo para diversas utilizações. ↔Natural gas is becoming an increasingly attractive fuel for many purposes.
exposing gaps in your vocabulary revelando as falhas no seu vocabulário
He wants to expose his students to great works of literature.
The workers were exposed to dangerous chemicals. [they were placed in conditions that left them unprotected from dangerous chemicals]
crack open abrir
It’s also common to say “crack open” a beer, due to the “crack” noise that happens when a beer of soft drink is opened.
in the name of a fim de
It’s about suppressing personal desires in the name of God and the greater good.  
Keep in mind how easily people give up freedom in the name of national security.  
accomplishment realização
They accomplished their mission. ↔Cumpriram sua missão.
His accomplishments should be written in large letters. ↔As conquistas deles deveriam ser escritas em letras grandes.
Em conclusão, gostaria de felicitar o relator pelo trabalho que realizou. ↔In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur for this accomplishment.
Espaço que possibilita a realização de reuniões científicas e de grupos de actividade. ↔This space makes possible the accomplishment of scientific meetings of groups of activity.
can net you pode render-lhe; pode te ajudar em pegar
If you’ve got $50 on this wager, a hit can net you some serious dough. ↔Se você tem US $ 50 em esta aposta, um hit pode render-lhe muito dinheiro.
A frank, calm demeanor can net you great love results. ↔A franco, comportamento calmo pode render excelentes resultados de amor.
clues dicas; pistas
Tenho muitas pistas, tudo bem, nada contundente. ↔I have many clues, but yeah, nothing overwhelming (scathing, incisive).
dá ao jogador muitas pistas para resolver o mistério ↔gives the player plenty of clues to solve the mystery
tentaremos encontrar qualquer pista, por mais ínfima que seja ↔we’ll look for any clue, however insignificant it may be
We have no clue where he is. ↔Não temos ideia de onde ele esteja.
parroted back repetidas de volta
She rarely answered a question but just parroted back talking points she had memorized.  
Whereas Enquanto…
She loves classical music, whereas I prefer jazz. ↔Ela adora música clássica, enquanto eu prefiro jazz.
taking place ocorrendo
Where did the accident take place? ↔Onde ocorreu o acidente?
The story takes place in Lisbon. ↔A estória passa-se em Lisboa.
The newspaper always keeps us informed of the events taking place in the world. ↔O jornal nos informa sempre sobre os eventos que acontecem no mundo.
educated guess um bom palpite (tentar adivinhar com a maior preisão possível)
A expectativa é de que cerca de 25 mil torcedores ingleses viajem à África do Sul”, disse Miles. ↔An educated guess is that 25,000 fans will travel (from England).
Não há garantias que foi de onde o erro aconteceu, porém é um bom palpite. ↔There is no guarantee that that is where the error was, but it is a good educated guess.
Temos de fazer hipóteses racionais e algumas vezes conseguimos adivinhar e outras não. ↔We have to make educated guesses, and sometimes we guess right, sometimes wrong.
driving forces forças motrizes
A promoção da “qualidade” constitui a principal força motriz de toda a agenda. ↔The promotion of ‘quality’ is a major driving force behind this agenda.
Os comércios de proximidade e o pequeno comércio constituem o motor da nossa economia. ↔Local businesses and small businesses are the driving force behind our economy.
A inovação é agora largamente entendida como sendo a força motriz do crescimento económico. ↔Innovation is now widely understood to be the driving force in economic growth.
So get out there Então, saia daqui e… (começar fazer algo)
Bem… era preciso sair dali. ↔Well… I should get out there.
E isso quer dizer que você terá que começar a fazer algumas coisas que vão lhe deixar muito nervoso. ↔And that means you’re going to have to get out there and start doing some things that will make you very nervous.


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