Learning to read manga

Moving on to weightier matters, The Visual Linguist has an interesting summary of an article on how kids learn to read manga. The biggest gain in ability seems to occur between kindergarten and fourth grade, which is not too surprising. And this seems like confirming the obvious:

He also did some eye-tracking studies comparing the eye movements of an “expert” versus a “non-frequent” manga reader. The “non-expert” fixated far more on word balloons than images and had higher reading times. On the other hand, the “expert” reader made “fewer useless eye movements” that were smoother, in addition to a higher rate of skipping over more panels and balloons. However, the expert also had higher story comprehension recall than the non-expert, despite reading faster and skipping elements.

See, kids, practice makes perfect! Seriously, it seems like the better manga readers were doing a better job of integrating the text and pictures (that’s my interpretation). That’s different from just reading the text.

Several studies also indicated a higher comprehension for learning from manga than from pure textual “novelized” writing.

In other words, kids get more of the content from a comic than from a block of prose. I would say that depends on your sample—different kids learn different ways—but it’s good to cater to all different learning styles.

This, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected:

One interesting finding showed that frequent reading of manga correlated to achievement in language arts (particularly sentence comprehension) and a liking of social sciences, though “not significantly with liking for art class.”

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