Future ESL Teachers Attend Comicpalooza
On Saturday, June 18, future English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers in Assistant Professor Colin Dalton's University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) graduate course, ESL Instruction and Assessment (5333), attended Comicpalooza—Texas' largest comic and pop-culture event.
Held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, featured guests included Kate Beckinsale, Ric Flair®, John Ostrander and Sigourney Weaver. The field trip exposed the future ESL teachers to the different genres and formats of graphic novels and comics.
Dalton explained, "Graphic novels and comics serve as an important bridge, especially for ESL students, to many elements of literacy development, including reading fluency and comprehension, vocabulary development, writing, spelling, visual literacy and even oral language development."
Future ESL teacher Gustavo Blanco learned the The Walking Dead graphic novel series consists of 156 individual issues, now available in a multitude of compendium editions, hardback books and collector sets. He remarked, "That's a lot of reading!"
Rossalyn Romero, a graduate student in urban education, was particularly impressed with the artwork on display and for sale at the event, saying "comic books and graphic novels are where art and literature meet."
Upon returning to the classroom, the students calculated a Fry readability assessment, a formula used to determine the grade reading level for English texts, on a Spider-Man comic book. Based on the number of sentences and syllables per hundred words, they determined the book was written at a seventh grade reading level. With the visual support of the sequential illustrations, these comics can provide ESL students with legitimate literary content for English language development.
Additionally, the field trip linked ESL instructional concepts of providing language learners with authentic, anxiety-free opportunities to learn and practice English in authentic situations.
"All ESL teachers should include field trips as part of their English language instruction," said Dalton. "Besides the language learning and acculturation benefits, field trips are fun and memorable for students."
Comicpalooza also provided other opportunities for learning, including robotics demonstrations, NASA exhibits, a film festival, cosplay, art, photography, writing workshops, acting workshops, a publishing panel, an animation exhibit, virtual reality demonstrations, technology training and martial arts exhibitions.