Did you know people used to think comic books were bad news?
That’s right. Dr. Fredric Wertham wrote an entire book claiming comic books were too violent and dangerous for kids to read!
Luckily, we’ve come a long way since the 1950s.
Now we know that comic books are the bomb.
In fact, they’re educational.
Many people today consider comics to be respectable forms of literature and art. And they teach readers foreign languages, such as Spanish.
Reading comic books in Spanish introduces you to a new realm of Spanish words: the Spanish onomatopoeia.
How? Through sound effects, or SFX as they’re called in the comic book community, you’ll pick up all kinds of cool new words that are based on real-world sounds we hear.
You might already be familiar with onomatopoeia and SFX from old Batman cartoons. Bam! Pow! Wham!
But you’re about to learn a whole lot more.
Why Should You Learn Onomatopoeia in Spanish?
Onomatopoeia are words associated with sounds. One of the most common examples is the word “buzz” to represent the noise a bee makes.
Comic books also offer a glimpse into how cultures interpret sounds. Take animal noises, for example. English speakers interpret the sound a bird makes as “chirp, chirp, chirp.” Spanish speakers, on the other hand, hear pío, pío, pío.
Why Should You Use Comic Books to Learn Onomatopoeia in Spanish?
Learning Spanish with comic books is beneficial for students of all levels. Even most advanced students don’t know many Spanish onomatopoeia!
Comic books’ sequential art and speech bubbles are helpful for visual learners. Readers get a context for the words, and the book explains the action in the panels.
Comic books are great supplementary materials for other learning methods you already use, such as FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos, like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks, and turns them into Spanish learning experiences. In fact, the program provides numerous types of videos, including cartoons and image-based stories.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store for iOS and Android devices.
Most importantly, comic books are engrossing reads for learners of all levels! The pictures and format encourage young Spanish learners to read.
Check Out These Comic Books in Spanish
There are countless comic books for Spanish learners.
Buy comic books from a few different genres to broaden your horizons. This way, you’ll learn as many Spanish onomatopoeia as possible!
Try these classics to get started:
30 Sizzling Spanish Onomatopoeia Comic Book Sound Effects
I’ve rounded up 30 of the most action-packed Spanish SFX to increase your love for onomatopoeya en español (onomatopoeia in Spanish)!
1. Chof or plas
The sound of jumping into water.
¡La chica salta en la piscina con un chof! (The girl jumps into the pool with a splash!)
The sound two items make when they hit each other or an item falls over.
¡El libro golpea el estante, paf! (The book hits the shelf, paf!)
3. Pataplum or cataplum
The sound of an explosion.
¡Pataplum! Los fuegos artificiales explotaron. (Boom! The fireworks exploded.)
The sound of anything being struck, such as smacking someone’s face or cracking a whip.
¡Zas! El domador de leones restalló el látigo contra la pared. (Crack! The lion tamer cracked his whip against the wall.)
5. Tan, tan, tan
The sound a bell makes, striking an anvil, hitting a hammer, etc.
¡Escuche! El herrero bate su yunque con el martillo. ¡Tan, tan, tan! (Listen! The blacksmith hits his anvil with the hammer. Clang, clang, clang!)
6. Uuuuh, uuuuh
The sound of a police car, firetruck or ambulance.
¿Puedes oír las sirenas del coche de bomberos? ¡Uuuuh uuuuh! ¡Uuuuh uuuuh! (Can you hear the firetruck’s sirens? Wee woo! Wee woo!)
7. Plas or alas
The sound of applause or hand clapping.
La audiencia aplaudió al final del musical. ¡Plas, plas, plas! (The audience applauded at the end of the musical. Clap, clap, clap!)
8. Plic, plic
The sound of soft rain.
Plic. Plic. La lluvia pega sobre el techo. (Plop. Plop. The rain hits the roof.)
The sound of a person sleeping.
El perro hace “zzzzz” porque está durmiendo. (The dog goes “zzzz” because he is sleeping.)
The sound of objects breaking.
¡Crag! El jarrón Ming rompió en el museo. (Crack! The Ming vase broke in the museum.)
The sound of a person snoring.
Mi padre ronca como un oso, ¡rrrr! (My father snores like a bear, huugh!)
12. Ñeec, ñeec
The sound of mattress springs.
Los monos saltan en la cama, ñeec, ñeec. (The monkeys jump on the bed, squeak, squeak.)
13. Bang or pam pam
The sound a gun makes.
¡Cuidado! ¡El ladrón tiene una pistola! ¡Pam pam, pam! (Careful! The thief has a gun! Bang, bang, bang!)
14. Toc, toc or tras, tras
The sound of knocking on a door.
Toc, toc, toc. Mi vecino golpeaba en la puerta. Toc, toc, toc. (Knock, knock, knock. My neighbor knocked on the door. Knock, knock, knock.)
15. Ñam, ñam, ñam
The sound of eating.
Cuando ella come la comida italiana, dice: “Ñam, ñam, ñam.” (When she eats Italian food, she says, “Num, num, num.”)
16. Tintín or chin-chin
The sound of clinking glass.
Los vasos se chocan “chin-chin” cuando lavo los platos. (The glasses clink each other when I wash the dishes.)
17. Oaaa, oaaa
The sound of waking up.
“Oaaa, oaaa,” ella bostezó por la mañana. (“Aaah,” she yawned in the morning.)
18. Hip, hip
The sound of hiccuping.
“Hip, hip, hip,” el elefante hace cuando bebe el jugo. (“Hiccup, hiccup, hiccup,” the elephant goes when it drinks the juice.)
19. Cataplum, catapum, cataplún or cataplam
The general sound of hitting, bumping or colliding with an object.
¡Cataplún! El coche chocó con el camión. (Crash! The car collided with the truck.)
20. Ejem, ejem
The sound of coughing.
“Ejem, ejem” el profesor carraspeó. (“Cough, cough,” the teacher cleared his throat.)
21. Glu, glu, glu
The sound of bubbles.
Las burbujas fueron glu, glu cuando reventaron. (The bubbles went pop, pop when they burst.)
22. Mua, muac, muak or chuic
The sound of kissing.
¡Guácala! El sonido de besos, muak muak, es repugnante. (Yuck! The sound of kissing, mua mua, is gross.)
23. Ra-ta-tá, ra-ta-tá
The sound of a machine gun.
¡Ra-ta-tá! ¡Ra-ta-tá! La ametralladora nunca paró de disparar. (Ratatat! Ratatat! The machine gun never stopped firing.)
24. Tric or tris
The sound of a small explosion.
Ellos hacen un explosión pequeño en la clase de ciencias. ¡Tric! (They make a small explosion in science class. Boom!)
The sound of swordfighting.
Los mosqueteros luchan con espadas. ¡Chischás! (The musketeers fight with swords. Clang!)
26. Ja, ja ja or je, je, je
The sound of laughter.
¡Ja ja ja! ¡Eres muy chistoso! (Ha ha ha! You’re very funny!)
The sound of a hiss, coming from the verb sisear.
La serpiente sisea hacia el caimán. (The snake hisses at the alligator.)
The sound you make when something smells awful.
¡Uf! ¡El queso limburger huele horrible! (Yuck! Limburger cheese smells horrible!)
29. Rin, rin
The sound of a bell
¡Rin, rin! El sonido de la campana es como música. ¡Rin, rin! (Ding, ding! The bell’s sound is like music. Ding, ding!)
The sound of growling.
“¡Gr!”, el gato gruñó dentro de la caja. (“Grrr!” the cat growled within the box.)
These 30 ejemplos de onomatopeya (onomatopoeia examples) are only the beginning.
When you start reading comic books, search for these words and more. If you see SFX you don’t know, the pictures will help you figure them out.
Feeling inspired to read Spanish comic books? Remember Stan Lee’s call to adventure: “Excelsior!”
Whitney Grace has a BA in Spanish and studied the language for over twenty years. She also holds an MS in Information Sciences. She is a professional writer, animation historian, comic book reviewer, researcher, and podcast host. She loves learning foreign languages and their intricacies. Check out her book Lotte Reiniger: Pioneer of Film Animation.
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