For the past couple months, I’ve been reading two different manga with one of my students. This was largely their decision as an activity, though I did have to restrict it to manga that I could access and was in English. Though I call it a restriction, this really has kept things much more accessible than people might realise because of how popular manga really is.
But this particular months-long activity has been pretty awesome. This particular student is really into manga and anime, which has been entirely fine with me because it’s a rare moment to share an old interest with someone while also bringing in literature to an English language lesson. Because we’re reading together, we get to talk about a range of different topics in a very natural way while also expanding upon vocabulary and concepts.
A really good recent example is something that a lot of first-language speakers may often forget about, and that’s how often we actually speak in idioms. This is common for anyone in any language, but it’s particularly important for us to remember that idioms we take for granted can also be really confusing. While reading Dr Stone together, we ran into a character talking about the location of people using clocks. Though it might come natural to a lot of people who speak English as their first language (especially if they’re more acquainted with analog clocks), it’s not always obvious what is meant when someone says there’s something “incoming at nine and two o’clock.”
There have been some growing pains in reading together, but those have largely come from me learning how to describe certain concepts (like what it means to “administer a medication” or the ideas around “scarcity value”). But throughout those challenges, we’ve found a lot of other new vocabulary, and we’ve been able to discuss what ideas and concepts mean to us. And because sometimes these concepts can be really difficult, I also have to prove that I’m happy to either help explain or openly admit to not knowing what it means (while also looking into it together).
And while sometimes the conversations can be serious, there are also just moments of great fun where we’re thinking about or critiquing some element of the story. Why did this character living in the stone age want to create a “laboratory” sign for his lab? Why is one of the protagonists of Shaman King always a tiny, little character that’s drawn in a different design? All of these questions build into a larger range of skills while my student also works on learning English.
Overall, it’s been a really fun way to just continue building both mutual understanding and a more trusting relationship while working on language acquisition.