What is the title of your MA project?
English Goes Graphic: Using Graphic Novels in College EFL in Taiwan
I chose this topic because visual language has been a big part of my life. I think I’ve always been a visual learner–I love and learn from turning texts into drawings and I used to make fun a lot of serious authors on the textbooks with a bit of creative doodle on their face. And to be honest, a part of me was happy when I saw that students now a days still entertain or express themselves through drawing on their textbooks. Apparently, visuals, compared to texts, speaks louder to these students. While visuals and texts have their own strengths and weaknesses, they can definitely support each other in interpersonal communication. As I noticed that the first thing my 7th grade Taiwanese students checked out in their brand new English textbook was not the page number or table of contents but the one-page comics at the end of each unit, I realized the value of comics in language learning. Unfortunately, despite the wide accessibility of comics in Taiwan among students, comics are mostly in either Chinese or Japanese, and they have not yet been widely explored as a language learning medium. Since research has shown that comics and graphic novels are motivating and authentic literature that promote multimodal literacy for learners of diverse characteristics, I chose this topic in the wish to explore the effectiveness and possibilities of using graphic novels in teaching novice and intermediate Taiwanese college EFL students.
How will this project influence your future teaching?
Because of this project, I have learned more about my target students’ needs, limits of current English textbooks, Taiwanese college students’ low reading proficiency and motivation, and appropriate graphic novels that can be highly adaptable to my future classrooms as supplementary materials to other English textbooks and extensive pleasure reading materials. This project also reminded me to start with what students are probably already interested in and familiar with, and this applies to both material selection and daily instruction. I also realized that as educators, we sometimes would focus too much on what we do in class and neglected to also think about what’s beyond the classroom. Through the use of graphic novel, I want to build up autonomous and motivated pleasure readers that will continue learning English through reading, interpreting and even creating their own comics or graphic novels because language learning is for a lifetime.
What advice would you give to future LTS students about the MA project?
1. Write about something that interests both you and the target readers
2. Start brainstorming earlier and it’s never too early to do extensive reading on research to collect data
3. Draw on your own and others experiences to form ideas. Talk to people about your idea for your project.
4. Think about your dream job and target students and make drafting out the project a productive pastime
5. Show support to your peers’ project (they are the brothers that stand by you in this fight!)
6. Always keep up with the deadline and arrange time for fun too!
What has surprised you about your project so far?
The data from my needs analysis suggested that although Taiwanese English instructors and college students could have very limited knowledge and exposure of graphic novels, they already showed much interest and expectation toward using graphic novels in their English classrooms.
What do you like best about your project?
I really liked the diversity of the materials I have created for my teaching/material portfolio. I have three sections, the first one is self-contained materials for using a few pages of graphic novel excerpts to teach integrative language skills. The second is materials created for teaching English pragmatics, such as giving compliments and forming complaints in a language analysis inductive approach. The last section is a project-based language learning in a Flipped Learning approach, targeting intermediate level students to maximize both the amount of graphic novel reading before class and the in-class time for communicative activities.