Teaching writing in the minority language: Turning colouring books into comics

Motivating my eldest (7) to write is often an issue.  Most of the writing she does is usually directed by me in our minority language (ml) “activities” (i.e: homework), usually in the shape of mini-dictations or answers to our activity book.  Though these writing exercises are good practice, they lack the fun kids crave to learn.

During the latest  Free Online Meetings about Multilingualism hosted by Ute’s International Lounge and co-animated with Ana Elisa Miranda (ESL teacher and biliteracy blogger), we discussed how to support your multilingual child’s writing in the ml.  When mentioning the difficulties I met in motivating my daughter, Ute mentioned drawing comics. On the spur of the moment, I did not see clearly how to get my daughter to do anything like it.  Hence, I left this idea on a back-burner.

Messaging with Ana Elisa a couple of days later, she mentioned comics again but she specified it in a creative ambit.  As I read this message, my eyes laid on the colouring and sketching book my daughter was working on… and that’s when the lightbulb went on in my mind, 

As my daughter proudly came up to me to show her art work, I complimented her and casually suggested “How about turning your unicorns into comic characters by adding big speech bubbles with fun text in the big white space left?”.  For a split second, I could see her cogs at work, assessing the level of hard work this involved. Yet, the fun spirit of it all immediately took over her doubts, and she ran off in search of her felt-tip!

You will find below a few pictures of her “comic”.  Some pages have mistakes, others are surprisingly perfect.  But what is most fantastic is that she let her imagination run loose on paper, with concentration and enjoyment and no apprehension.  Letting writing be part of her play.

Since then, she has gently added to her comic every single evening. Searching for ideas for her storyline, asking the spelling of a word here and there, adding colours and patterns to her sketches, and even adding a title on the cover page of her sketchbook!

Resources needed:

  • A colouring-book
  • Felt-tips, crayons or coloured pencils


  • Suggest the idea casually, preferably in the middle of your child’s colouring a colouring book with plenty of pages.
  • Refrain from criticising the spelling mistakes so as not to kill the fun, you are trying to get them to like writing and such criticism could put out their budding enthusiasm.
  • Let it start with only a few words, and see if over time your child wants to add a little more text.

Any similar ideas or tips to add?  Please share them in the Comment section!

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