Bridging the Reading Gap: An Exploratory Study into the Possibilities of Graphic Novels for Dutch Teachers of English in Secondary Education
Visser, C.L. de
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Dutch English as a foreign language education faces two challenging developments, namely the gap between the lingual school culture and the visual popular culture, and the transition from the lower forms to the upper forms marks a sudden shift from reading education to literature education. Secondary school pupils do not read less, but they read differently. This study argues that the graphic novel is a perfect tool that can bridge the gap between the two cultures and between the more reader-oriented lower years and more culture-oriented upper years. This study attempted to map the educational possibilities of the graphic novel for teachers in Dutch EFL education and was carried out in two third-year classes at a secondary school in the Netherlands. First, results were gathered from four third-year students who provided insights that were helpful for designing the materials and lessons. Subsequently, one havo and one vwo class participated in four lessons that used four graphic novels and thirteen different exercises. Interviews and questionnaires were used to gather the results. This study found that the success of the graphic novel is entirely dependent on the way it is implemented. Interesting results are that female participants enjoyed the exercises more and that the difficulty level of the graphic novels and exercises did not have an effect. The results suggest that selecting graphic novels and fragments that suit the student’s interest is more important than selecting the right difficulty level.