Kaplan International Study: Spider-Man is Top Comic Book Hero for Teaching English

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A study by Kaplan International Colleges has found that 33% of ESL educators use comic books to teach English.

Comics are the perfect vehicle for helping learners of all backgrounds to connect words with the visual image.

Spider-Man is the most popular comic book used by educators to teach English to foreign students, according to a new study.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges, a leading provider of English language courses, revealed that one third (33%) of surveyed ESL (English as a second language) teachers use comic books as a teaching tool to enhance their lessons and help students improve their understanding of English.

The Spider-Man series was the most popular comic book among ESL teachers with 18% using the adventures of Peter Parker’s alter-ego to engage students and help them on their English learning journey.

Marvel's flagship character held off competition from DC Comics rivals Superman and Batman. The Man of Steel was used by only 12% of ESL teachers and just 9% of educators discussed the exploits of the Dark Knight during lessons.

Dr. Michael Bitz, Executive Director of EdPath, said: “Comics are the perfect vehicle for helping learners of all backgrounds to connect words with the visual image. The opportunity to make this connection in the classroom is crucial and often overlooked. Now educators are beginning to see the potential power of comics in the classroom.”

Kaplan surveyed more than 500 ESL teachers from 40 countries to discover what tools they use to enhance their lessons. The results of Kaplan’s “How to Teach English” survey have been published as an infographic. The infographic page has quotes covering all aspects of the research.
Other survey results include:

  • 86% of ESL Teachers have used music in class: The Beatles being the most popular band (used by 40% of those surveyed).
  • 81% have used English-speaking celebrities to engage students: Barack Obama being the most popular.
  • 76% have used Movies in class: The Harry Potter series being the most popular.
  • 75% have used Newspapers in class: The New York Times being the most popular.
  • 60% have used TV shows in class: Mr Bean being the most popular.
  • 34% have used the Radio in class: The BBC World Service being the most popular.
  • 24% have used Computer Games in class: The Sims being the most popular.

Kaplan surveyed 503 ESL teachers from: the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Russia, India, South Korea, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Greece, Vietnam, Spain, Cuba, France, Taiwan, Thailand, Azerbajan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Mexico, Iran, Ukraine, Jamaica, Malaysia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Czech Republic, Latvia, Uganda, Malta, Singapore and Chile.

In a previous study conducted in 2012, Kaplan found that Spider-Man was the top comic book series for helping people learn English outside of the classroom with 55% of those surveyed claiming that reading comics enhanced their language skills.

About Kaplan International Colleges

Kaplan International Colleges is part of Kaplan, Inc., an international education services provider offering higher education, professional training, and test preparation. Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO). http://www.kaplaninternational.com

About Dr. Michael Bitz

Dr. Michael Bitz is an expert on comics in education. His books include When Commas Meet Kryptonite: Classroom Lessons from the Comic Book Project (Teachers College Press) and Manga High: Literacy, Identity, and Coming of Age in an Urban High School (Harvard Education Press).

Dr Bitz was speaking on behalf of The Comic Book Project, a world-renowned literacy initiative that engages young people in the process of planning, writing, designing, and publishing original comic books. http://www.comicbookproject.org/

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