Manga: A Motivating Multimodal Medium for Learning English

Manga: A Motivating Multimodal Medium for Learning English

Takako Yasuta
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4313-2.ch009
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This chapter aims to illustrate the benefits of manga, or Japanese comics, as learning material in foreign language education for young adults, particularly in the Japanese college-level EFL context. The author has been conducting semester-long manga projects at universities in Japan, and this report is an accumulation of her major findings. This chapter introduces manga-based activities designed for college-level EFL courses in Japan. It describes how this approach assisted language learners in enhancing learning motivation, developing advanced linguistic knowledge focusing on writing skills, and sociolinguistic appropriateness in various registers. It also describes what language instructors should keep in mind when using manga in the classroom and tips for maximizing the effectiveness of manga-based lessons.
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Manga, an artform in comics that originated in Japan, is appreciated worldwide. It is not only entertainment but is often used for educational purposes. However, because of their entertaining nature, manga are usually utilized for ice-breaking activities or regarded as friendly learning material for emerging language learners. Manga are not commonly used as primary teaching material, especially in higher education. The EFL curriculum introduced in this chapter is unique and innovative as it aims at teaching college-level English, including academic writing using manga. The entire curriculum is manga-based, believed to be impossible or unrealistic, especially in a highly academic context. This chapter will show the manga-based approach that the author has used in the Japanese college-level EFL classrooms. The chapter introduces English education in Japan and its problems and explains how manga could be effectively used as EFL learning material in Japan. Then the author will introduce three manga-based activities for college-level students and show some examples and outcomes of each activity. Lastly, the author presents some potential issues that language instructors should be aware of and tips that make manga-based activities most successful. Although the findings are derived from specific contexts (i.e., college-level EFL writing courses in Japan), they are applicable to other foreign language classrooms in similar contexts and offer an enjoyable learning experience, especially for a generation familiar with manga and anime.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Eye Dialect: Intentionally used nonstandard spelling that indicates mispronunciation that may imply the speaker’s unsophisticatedness or illiteracy.

Tsundere: A Japanese word that refers to sweet-n-sour personality. Tsundere characters are often found in manga and have a harsh and sweet attitude toward their loved ones depending on the situation.

CEFR: Abbreviation of “The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.” It is an international standard measurement of foreign language proficiency and describes language learners’ achievement with six levels: A1 (low beginner level) to C2 (mastery level).

MEXT: The abbreviation of “The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.” It is one of the ministries of Japan that contributes to improving international relations and education.

Danraku: A paragraph-like unit in Japanese. It is often considered equivalent to a paragraph; however, it is a different unit. A danraku does not require any internal structure but simply a chunk of sentences.

Manga: A type of comic that has developed uniquely in Japan. Compared to typical western comics, manga has developed into a variety of genres that attract a wider range of readers. Manga as a comic category may not have a rigid definition or a clear-cut boundary with other types of graphics-based literature. Although manga-like comics or graphic novels are created worldwide, the author uses the term to refer to graphics-based literature that is originally published in the Japanese language and targeted at Japanese readers.

Role Language: A set of linguistic features (pronunciation, grammar, lexicon) that are psychologically associated with particular manga character types.

Reporting Verbs: Verbs that indicate that discourse is being quoted or paraphrased, such as tell , say , and mention . They are used in both direct and indirect speech. e.g., Judy said, “I don’t know” (direct speech); Judy said that she did not know (indirect speech).

ALT: Abbreviation of “Assistant Language Teacher.” They are English speakers (mostly native speakers of English) in Japanese elementary to high schools and assist Japanese English instructors in class. A bachelor's degree is required to be an ALT; however, they do not have to have an English or education-related degree.

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