Virtual Conversation in EFL Classroom: A Manga-based Approach During the Pandemic

Conference: The Asian Conference on Language (ACL2022)
Title: Virtual Conversation in EFL Classroom: A Manga-based Approach During the Pandemic
Stream: Language Learning and Teaching
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Takako Yasuta, Fukushima Medical University, Japan


This study introduces the characteristics of English used in virtual conversations in Manga, or Japanese comics, in an English communication course. The author will show how EFL students learned sociolinguistic appropriateness in conversations through analyzing and making Manga during the pandemic where no real-time interaction was allowed. Although the activity did not include a "real" conversation, students learned sociolinguistic appropriateness for different registers. The author will analyze the conversations students created in Manga and examine the sociolinguistic and linguistic characteristics students used in their Manga.

The participants were 18 second and third-year college students who major in humanities in Japan. In order to teach spoken English in a one-way on-demand online course, a Manga-based approach was introduced. Although a real conversation was not possible, students could "speak" English virtually by making conversation in Manga. Students were also instructed to use "role language", the language that reflects sociolinguistic factors and Manga character’s personality. Students learned the idea of role language, listed speech features frequently used by a particular character type, and created a Manga using appropriate role language.

The students commonly associated expressions that show politeness, liveliness, and kindness with female characters. On the other hand, male characters were generally associated with casualness, slang expressions, and abbreviated forms. A pitfall of this approach was that some students intentionally used ungrammatical expressions for infant Manga characters to show their limited language skills. More careful instruction is necessary for the classroom where limited assistance is possible from the instructor.

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