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Teaching with Comics and Graphic Novels
On this page, you’ll find everything you need to get started with comics and graphic novels.

Over the last decade, comic books have transitioned from niche market to the engine of popular culture. This rise in the medium has prompted a discussion on the educational potential of comic books and graphic novels. While students may be versed in comic books and popular culture, classroom implementation is dependent on teacher familiarity with and literacy in comic books and culture. The materials below will provide you with media-rich resources to develop knowledge and promote English language learning through visual literacy. 

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Table of Contents

Panels and PerspectivesExpand

Panels and Perspectives: Creating Comics in the English as a Foreign Language Classroom is an instructional guide to creating comics for educators of all English language learners. Presented in comic book format, Panels and Perspectives includes insights, strategies, and practical applications for making comics in any American English classroom to improve both language skills and critical thinking abilities. English teachers will discover there are many correct ways for students to create comics, whether they use photos, sketches, superheroes, or funny animals with superpowers to tell their stories.

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How to order:

Outside the United States, print copies of this title may be requested by contacting the Public Affairs or Cultural Section of the nearest U.S. Embassy. We cannot guarantee, however, that all publications will be available at every office.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is prohibited from distributing its print materials in the United States by the Smith-Mundt Act.

Description:

Combining the written word with even the simplest doodles can be a powerful means for students to demonstrate their understanding.  Panels and Perspectives: Creating Comics in the English as a Foreign Language Classroom is an instructional guide to creating comics for educators of all English language learners.  Presented in comic book format, Panels and Perspectives includes insights, strategies, and practical applications for making comics in any American English classroom to improve both language skills and critical thinking abilities. English teachers will discover there are many correct ways for students to create comics, whether they use photos, sketches, superheroes, or funny animals with superpowers to tell their stories. 

Comics MaterialsExpand

Here are some comic book resources to use in your classroom or home.  

Zonk! Comics for the Classroom

Zonk 1 and Zonk 2, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Peru, created by professional comic illustrators Benjamin Ilka and Fabricio Rivas, showcase local talent from students and teachers across Peru. The goal is to get students and teachers excited about sharing their knowledge of local culture through comic book stories as a way to improve the language learning experience and enhance critical thinking skills. The stories come from communities across Peru, but they are intended to reach people around the world. The books have practical tips to adapt each story for use in your classroom or home. 

Trace Effects Comics

Text: These comics follow Trace on his adventures throughout the United States. Geared toward young people, Trace Effects exposes users to American society and explores themes related to entrepreneurship, community activism, empowering women, science and innovation, environmental conservation, and conflict resolution. 

Why English? Comics for the Classroom 

The stories in Why English? Comics for the Classroom – written by teenagers and young adults – will appeal to learners of all ages. These stories provide an enjoyable opportunity to increase vocabulary, reading comprehension, listening, speaking, and writing. The stories and exercises together are a whole-language anthology designed to improve communication skills. This book provides exercises that employ the cooperative/collaborative learning philosophy and address multiple learning styles.  

Teacher's Corner: Reported Speech

This lesson plan uses the Trace Effects comics.  

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COMIC BOOK TEACHING MATERIALS

Zonk! Comics for the Classroom

Zonk 1 (PDF)

Zonk 2 (PDF)

Trace Effects Comics

Chapter 1 (PDF)

Chapter 2 (PDF)

Chapter 3 (PDF)

Chapter 4  (PDF)

Chapter 5 (PDF)

Chapter 6  (PDF)

Chapter 7  (PDF)

Why English? Comics for the Classroom

Trace Effects Classroom Language Learning Activity: Reported Speech

WebinarsExpand

Creating Comics to Think Critically

This session, "Creating Comics to Think Critically," provides strategies global educators can use to help English language learners create comics as a means of developing their language and critical thinking skills.

Using Comics in the English Language Classroom

Using comics in the EFL classroom is a terrific way to incorporate the target language in a fun, engaging way. This webinar demonstrates the universality of comics for any language classroom, showing how multi-skill comic activities can be used with students of all ages and ability levels.

Animating Your Instruction: Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the English Language Classroom

This session, "Animating Your Instruction: Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the English Language Classroom," explores the popularity of illustrated stories among teachers and students alike and offers suggestions on how to use them to “animate” your classes. 

Format: Video
Instructional ArticlesExpand

Teacher’s Corner: Comic Books for Learning
In this article, teachers will explore ways in which comic books can be used effectively in the classroom.

FORUM: Using Comic Strips in Language Classes
The author of this article discusses how comics can motivate younger learners, provide a context for language learning, and aid in comprehension through visual literacy.

FORUM: Student Storytelling through Sequential Art
This article provides helpful advice for teachers interested in using sequential art as a source of authentic reading material in their classrooms.

FORUM: Creating Cartoons: A Learner-Centered Approach to Comprehending Texts
This article carefully describes the technique of having learners create cartoons based on a reading passage to explore their understanding of the passage and to help teachers reflect on what the learners comprehended.

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Global Comic Stories Expand

Volume 1: Hope and Power

In this anthology volume, you'll find the stories of our teachers, centered on the topics of access to education, empathy and understanding, healthcare and wellness, gender equity, and climate change, all in comic form. This anthology was created by participants of the inaugural American English Global Comics Virtual Exchange Program in spring of 2020.

Volume 2: Agents of Change

This volume contains collected comic stories from the participants of the AE Global Comics Virtual Exchange Program Pilot, Fall 2020.  Participants created these comics using Pixton EDU, hand-drawing, or by using a combination of digital tools and comics.  Comics are generally read in panels, left to right.  Each pair has an introduction to their projects, containing their biographies.  We hope you’ll enjoy reading these amazing stories!  

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