Language Games in a Classroom Using Graphic Novels


Graphic novels can be best described as a montage of words and images, where the impact of images supersedes that of words. They can be used as an innovative literacy tool in the emerging scenario of ELT. McCloud’s seminal work Understanding Comic draws on the ability to interpret Graphic novels through a process known as “closure”, implying the readers’ ability to unify panels and mentally construct a continuous unified reality, thus enabling them to “decode” messages using cognitive thinking skills. These skills are further employed in forming a connection between the image and the text, which stimulates visual / spatial learning. Comics offer opportunities for students to scrutinize interdependent images and words, which creates a strong sequential narrative.

Level:            Lower/ Upper Intermediate

Time:            20-30 Minutes

Skill focus:   To develop spoken skills using visual clues

Materials:     Graphic novel cut-outs pasted on a sheet or cardboard.

Instructions to the Students: There are five sets of cards, illustrating the story of the famous Mughal ruler, King Akbar. The first two sets of cards have a written text on them, which will give you clues to start your story. Look at each of them carefully and complete the story with the help of visual clues in the remaining three cards.


Divide the class into groups of five or six. Give one picture-card set to each group and ask them to study it carefully and understand the action depicted in the picture.

When all the groups have finished interpreting the card sets, ask one person from any group to come forward and narrate the story as depicted in the card set.

After the student from the first group has finished narrating the story, a student from another group comes forward and picks up the story from the first card set. However, before this student starts the story, ask the previous student to repeat his / her last two sentences so as to continue the development of the story in a linear fashion.

Repeat the process until the entire story is narrated. Ask the students if they can add any more information about King Akbar.

Repeat the procedure by exchanging the card sets within the groups. Now each group will narrate the story of King Akbar, but using a different card set from the last one.

The teacher may in the end, smoothen out any rough edges or gaps in the story, or can even add a new twist to the events.

Card Set 1

Card Set 2

Card Set 3

Card Set 4

Card Set 5
Tulika Kakkar is Associate Coordinator, RIE CToss Program for Government Schools of Chandigarh since 2010. She specializes in using technology in education.