Comic Builder


Comic Builder began as a BC proposal for a new kind of kinesthetic learning activity that could be integrated into Cambridge University Press’ Interactive site. Although comic creation activities are nothing new, using them as language learning tools is still novel and largely unexplored territory. As we developed the concept, it became clear that Comic Builder could have scope beyond the content of just one site.

Using Comic Builder learners construct stories by selecting ‘comic book’ page layouts and then populating the panels with background scenery, images of characters, speech and thought balloons and narrative panels. Learners can also add ambient music; ‘play back’ their comics as slideshows, save, download, print and share their stories with others. The format enables us to re-purpose characters and scenarios that appear in the Cambridge’s courseware and gives learners the opportunity to re-mix the stories, characters and scenes they encounter in their textbooks into new and imaginative narratives.

The familiarity of the comic book means the task at hand needs no explaining and the controls to scale and transform visual elements are intuitive and learnt in seconds, leaving learners free to focus on storytelling. This encourages learners to concentrate on the relationship between the words and the pictures they use and helps them to practise their language and communication skills without the drudgery of traditional language learning activities.

The result

I’ve been to the website and I adore the tour you have set up. The comic builder is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in ELT.

Comic Builder has been an enormous hit with teachers and students alike and is in use daily in English language classrooms across the globe. Following the success of the Interactive Comic Builder (the full version is available to registered users), Cambridge University Press subsequently commissioned another version (again full version accessible by registered users) for the Your Space site which we developed for CUP in 2012.

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