Reporting from Notes: Explaining Comics Using Keywords

Adelia Falk

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Speaking, keywords, presentation
  • Learner English level: Intermediate and above
  • Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
  • Preparation time: 10–20 minutes
  • Activity time: 10 minutes
  • Materials: At least two sets of the following: a multi-panel comic split into two parts with the final panel missing, an Answer Sheet for each group of students that contains the missing panel and two or more distractors from other comic strips, keyword Notecards, and two pieces of blank paper (see Preparation).

Many students feel insecure about speaking in English and want to write out exactly what they will say before reading it aloud to the class. Teachers often struggle to impress upon their students the value of keywords in preparing for presentations and discussions. This adaptation of a read and run activity models useful keywords and allows students to experience how they can be helpful when speaking.



Step 1: Prepare the comics. For each set, find or draw a 6–8-panel comic and two or three distractor panels from comics that do not match the story. Remove the final panel from the full comic and split the rest in half (Parts 1 and 2). Copy each part onto a separate sheet of paper (Appendix A). Cover the comics with a blank sheet of paper.

Step 2: Prepare the Notecards. For each part, write up to five useful keywords or phrases (Appendix B). Make one copy for each group of 3–4 students.

Step 3: Prepare the Answer Sheets. For each set, copy the final panel of the comic and two distractor panels onto a sheet of paper. Make one copy for each group of 3–4 students or display it on a projector (Appendix C).



Step 1: Divide the class into groups of three or four students. Tell each group to choose who will be “Listeners,” “Reporter 1,” and “Reporter 2.”

Step 2: Place Part 1 and Part 2 of the first comic in different areas of the room. Place the Notecards next to the comics.

Step 3: Tell Reporter 1s to go to Part 1, and Reporter 2s to assemble around Part 2. Tell all Reporters to take one of the Notecards at their location.

Step 4: Tell the Reporters to lift the covers of their comics and think for 1–2 minutes about how they will describe them to their groups. They can work together or ask questions. Meanwhile, give Listeners the Answer Sheets and tell them to look at the panels.

Step 5: Tell Reporters to return to their groups and describe their parts to the Listeners. Encourage them to look at their Notecards to remember what they want to say.

Step 6: When the Reporters have finished, ask Listeners to select the correct final panel. Reporters may not help them.

Step 7: Show the students the whole comic and give feedback to the whole class.

Step 8: Change roles and repeat with the next set of comics.



For small groups of two or three, you could use shorter comics with only one reporter in each round.

For more advanced practice, students can write their own keywords.

For additional conversation practice, students can discuss their opinion of the comics after the correct answers have been revealed.



This activity allows students to experience the use of keywords as memory aids. Careful selection of keywords and phrases allows students to remember what they want to say, and some of the words they need to say it. This can help them speak more confidently, without reading pre-written texts.



The full appendix is available below.