Sunday, 30 October 2011

Learning in a Diabolik-al Way!

"Alien Language" comic created by Janet with Marvel Super Hero

Learning a new language via comics is fun and engaging, and this has been proved in numerous pilot studies as reviewed here. Comics usually contain short sentences, phrases and are often repetitive, thus making the language easier to comprehend. People of all ages enjoy reading them and I often recommend that students buy comics of their choice while they are in England or else suggest they view suitable comics online, to pick up new vocabulary and expressions. Comics often contain examples of everyday, colloquial English in manageable chunks.

I am still collecting links and resources for using comics in the classroom via the web curation site You can view the latest additions to this site here.

Learning Diabolik-ally
In addition to reading motorbike magazines in Italian, my husband K also sometimes buys copies of Diabolik comics (fumetti) in Italian in order to pick up the language in a fun and stimulating way. Diabolik is a fictional character, an anti-hero featured in a series of Italian comics. He drives an E-Type Jaguar and his girlfriend is called Eva.

The hugely popular comics were written in 1962 by two sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani, both born in Milan. By all accounts, they led a very exciting and fulfilling life. Both sisters had an extraordinary and vivid imagination to be able to produce this series of comics, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012.

Below you can see a personal copy and image of Diabolik, "Sull'Orlo della Fossa", March 2011 edition. In parts, K has annotated in pencil with translations in English. Maybe if I were really "teacherly", I could create a series of review cartoons in Italian specially for him to test his understanding of key words??? Hmmm, maybe if I have time....

The comics are well illustrated and full of high action with easy to recognise sound effects such as "Boooom!!" Craaash!! Splaaash!! etc

Everyday expressions crop up frequently such as the following:

  • Che cosa succede? What's happening?
  • Buona fortuna! Good luck
  • Grazie Thanks
  • Ma che cosa...?? What on earth..?
  • Poco dopo.. Shortly after...
  • Piu tardi.. Later .....
  • Sono d'accordo I agree
  • Va bene! OK!
  • Attento! Watch out!

These short phrases enable the reader to take in the meaning of these expressions with ease. I would love to add some of the comic scenes on my blog, but the publishers have imposed strict copyright usage on their content, and I have to respect that.

A Diabolik Scenario
In view of this limitation, I have reproduced a typical generic scene from Diabolik by using the Super Hero Marvel Comic cartoon site. I have written a short sample dialogue in Italian using some of the language I have introduced above. See if you can work out what the characters are saying :-)

Comic created by Janet with Marvel Super Hero Comic Squad

Can you understand what the 2 characters are saying in Italian? If you can, well done!!!

K enjoys reading them and with the use of a dictionary, he can pick up a lot of new vocabulary. I also like looking through them as they are so visual and the stories are interesting! This comic series comes out monthly and each copy costs 2 euros and that is quite good value.

You can view Diabolik comics online from the official website if you click on Diabolik Fumetto Online. So if you are learning Italian, and you want to pick up some useful Italian expressions, go ahead and browse through the site. Then why don't you make your own free and easy to use Super Hero comic strip using the new language you have learned and print it out directly? You could also keep your lovely creation in a folder for review purposes, or simply print it out and pin to your work area wall and create a nice collage of your work of art??

That is what I am starting to do in order to jazz up the wall of my "office" area, as you can see below!

Apologies to anyone following my blog for my accidentally publishing this post yesterday with just the title. I deleted it immediately, as I hadn't written the post content yet(!!) but for some reason, I think it is still showing up in blog feeds as published.


Fiona said...

Nice idea for language learning and great how you exemplify how it works - I could understand the extract! A comic book is an interesting alternative medium. Have you read (or seen the film) The Complete Persepolis? Just in case you haven't, I recommend it. It's gorgeous.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Fiona

Thanks very much for your kind comments here. Well done for understanding the extract!

Thanks for recommending the Complete Persepolis - I had heard of it, but not read the book or seen the film. The movie trailers look great, so must view it some time!

Natasa said...

Janet, Diabolik brings back memories. Italian cartoons were very popular here when I was growing up. I wasn't such a great fan of Diabolik, but I love Alan Ford ( It was hugely popular here and still is. It is hilarious and I imagine it would be great for learning Italian. Have you ever read it? I understand it has never been popular in Britain.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Natasa

That's interesting you know about Diabolik comics! I have never come across the comic site you mention (Alan Ford), but I'll look it up in the link you have attached. Many thanks!!