Using Comic Strips as Learning Materials
I read an article by Jun Liu about the effect of comic strips on L2 learners’ reading comprehension (2004). The findings of the study are very interesting, and show how comic strips can be used as effective learning materials. Comic strips can be used in classrooms like any other materials such as coursebooks, worksheets, videos, etc.
The article reports on the effects of comic strips on L2 learners’ reading comprehension. The author demonstrates how comic strips as reading material can be helpful in making text more enjoyable to read and more comprehensible for L2 learners. Prior to this study, specialists and researchers had investigated whether using different visuals, such as pictures, cartoons, photos, comic strips, etc., can help L2 learners in their reading comprehension, by investigating which type of visuals is the best. They explained the major functions of using visuals to enhance students’ reading comprehension: representation, organization, interpretation, transformation, and decoration. And these functions are relevant and related to the text’s content, as they are part of it.
The author defined what a comic strip is: pictures inside boxes in a series that tell a story. Comic strips, according to the author, are readable, accessible, popular, and communicative, which is why he chose them for the study. He explained how comic strips communicate by using two types of media, words and images.
The aim of the study was to investigate the effects on L2 learners’ reading comprehension of presenting a text in comic strips. The question was whether presenting a text with or without a comic strip can produce different results for L2 learners with different proficiency levels. In addition, the author’s aim in this study was to focus on the students’ comprehension, not on their production. It was hypothesized that a student with a low/intermediate proficiency level reading a high-level text with a comic strip would improve his/her understanding. On the other hand, a student with a high/intermediate proficiency level reading a low-level text with a comic strip would not improve his/her understanding.
The study investigated two English proficiency levels (high and low), two text difficulty levels (difficult and easy), and two visual supports for the two texts (with and without comic strips). The participants were students from ESL classes at a university in the United States.
Finally, the paper concluded with a discussion mainly considering how comic strips can enhance the recall of low-level students, who face difficulties comprehending a high-level text. The author suggested that future research can test the effect of comic strips on L2 learners’ retention, as another subject.
Jun Liu (2004).