This is an educational blog devoted to developing and expanding one's cultural knowledge and literacy of Anglo-American culture through the medium of comics. I hope to post at least once a week.
What is cultural literacy?
The term was coined by the American educator E.D. Hirsch. Cultural literacy is one’s ability to fluently understand and participate receptively and actively in a language and its culture through proper context in various ways such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Both native and second language speakers may lack cultural literacy outside of their own country or society. One may be fluent in Standard English but may not be culturally literate in another English society. Each culture, society, country, and even region may have their own terms and expressions that are specific to their locale.
A great example is that American and British English, though similar, do have some noticeable differences. One example is their differences in vocabulary. Take the word “pants”; it is a lower body outer piece of clothing in North American English. In British English, “pants” refers to one’s underwear/underpants. The British equivalent to the North American definition of pants is “trousers”. Using the term pants without being culturally literate of what its exact definition is in either English culture can lead to misunderstandings ranging from hilarious to rude depending on who you are with and the environment that you are in.
What is this blog’s purpose?
This blog was created with the purpose of helping ESL (English as a Second Language) students that are fluent or near fluent in English to gain a greater understanding of cultural literacy through the aid of comics. I am using the medium of comics as a way to teach and breakdown cultural ideas, beliefs, norms, and humour that are common in English that might be harder for one of an ESL background to understand.
Even individuals of an ESL background that are fluent in academic English often struggle with casual conversation due to their more limited cultural exposure. The English language found and used in non-professional and non-academic settings uses a lot of expressions, slangs, idioms, and other literary devices that are a norm for most native English speakers but not most second language speakers. Without further practice and understanding of another language’s cultural origins and norms it is easy for basic ideas and messages to be taken for its literal meaning. The message or idea will be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
Why did I choose comics as my medium of instruction?
- Comics are quick and easy to understand for the most part.
- Comics provide easy to follow pictures and images.
- Like the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” having an image may help break down the message’s meaning in a more instructive way than words can.
- Comic are not long and difficult to read.
- For the audience to understand the humour and hidden meaning in a comic they must be culturally literate to some extent. If not, the comic will provide a short and simple lesson for future references.
Who would benefit from this blog?
Other educators – You can take posts from here to use in lessons and activities with your own students.
ESL students – You can read this blog to increase your cultural knowledge and understanding of Anglo-American culture.
English Speakers that are not from Britain or North America – There are many different countries and cultures around the world that speak English. Also, there are many variations of English and Standard English around the world. One may use this blog as a way to increase their understanding of Anglo-American (particularly North American) cultural beliefs and norms.
Anyone – It could be just fun to read.
The meaning behind my blog’s name: Angles Comic Café
My background is as a secondary school social science teacher with a focus in history and politics.
1) The Angles were one of the main Germanic tribes to settle in Britain after the Romans left in the Early Middle Ages. The term Angle overtime evolved into English.
2) The word angle is another word (synonym) for perspectives. I hope my posts can provide new and different perspectives for my readers.
Comic – This is self-explanatory. Comics are the main medium of focus on this blog.
Café – Cafés were and continue to be vibrant places of socialization and discussion.
I am a Canadian that has lived and worked in the United Kingdom. I try to be as neutral as possible but the views and breakdowns presented in this blog are related to Anglo-American culture and context. This blog in general will be overall more North American-centric. Most comics will also be of American origins. I am a Canadian, though I've had lifelong exposure to American culture and many American friends, therefore if any post appears to lack or misinterpret some deep American cultural understanding I do apologize but I will try my best. The goal is increase Anglo-American cultural literacy in general.
Why British and American English? Students studying English around the world today are most commonly taught British or American English.
Please note: This is an educational blog. I am not making any profit from this blog. All posts and interpretations are my personal views. Please feel free to comment and to add your own thoughts to posts. Differing interpretations and views will enrich everyone’s experience.
All images and comics uploaded on this blog were obtained through searches on Google Images. I do not hold nor did I purchase the copyright to any of the visual images on this site. I will cite, give credit, and link the image’s online origins whenever possible. I do not plan to infringe upon any copyright laws. All visual images on this site are under the domain of creative commons or if copyrighted I am using them for commentary and teaching purposes.