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Comic books as foreign language learning aids

Italian 203 has been pretty difficult so far. I have had to spend more time studying and memorizing vocab and grammatical rules, which means I have had less time to do class projects. I did, however, decide to do one of the final projects for class. It was to be a PowerPoint presentation on something, anything Italian. So I chose to discuss, in Italian, the comic Dylan Dog by Tiziano Sclavi. I gave a brief history of comics or i fumetti in Italy, then went on to discuss the story of Dylan Dog, an investigator of the paranormal [l’investigatore dell’incubo].

But what I mostly wanted to share was how comic books are great tools for intermediate to advanced language learners. I have noticed that many language teachers will include readings in class that are from stories we are already familiar with, such as those from popular fairy tales or Disney movies, or they will choose extremely dense Italian classics. Both can be useful but I see comics books as a great happy-medium. Illustrations provide clues to the text [which can be challenging] and the stories are exciting to read.

Local comics publisher Dark Horse actually publishes the English version of Dylan Dog but several foreign language comic books are available at Powell’s as well as local libraries.

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