Palabras and Pictures : Teaching ESL through Comics
My students need comics that are not only at their level of English, but are engaging and at appropriate for their age.
Learning the native language in a new place is crucial to survive and flourish. It is a challenge. It can be an adventure. It is what my students face every day when they come to school.
My students are the school's English Language Learners.
They are all capable, driven, young people who have a wealth of experiences to share with the school. Some of my students can fold hearts and tops out of paper. Some can create intricate stories about super heroes. However, because all of their instruction is in English, their second language, they struggle in the classroom, especially in Language Arts.
I have found that kids who say that they don't like reading, who have behavior issues, and, like my students, who are unsure of their reading ability, love comics. Comics act as a Trojan Horse. They have more complex narratives than traditional picture books, and the images keep my students from getting lost and frustrated while they are decoding words. This is essential for my ELL students. My students need a high interest set like this that they can enjoy while elevating their reading and writing ability in English.
Kids love reading comics, which makes them a gateway for enjoying reading in general.
Unfortunately, they are also very expensive. This makes them economically unavailable to most of my students. With these graphic novels, we will have a constant supply of high interest, Common-Core standards-aligned books to read while we are in the classroom, as well as a wonderful library from which my students can take books and continue to grow their English language abilities at home.
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