Multimodality and Multiliteracies in Language Teaching and Learning – 8 September, 2024 @13:00 via Google Meet

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All meaning is multimodal and so our students must be multiliterate, but how do multimodality and multiliteracies fit in our teaching? Join the discussion for necessary background and examinations of contemporary teaching from around East Asia at this free online event. 


Thomas AmundrudMultimodality in Language Teaching and Research: A Brief Overview
14:00Fei Victor LimMultiliteracies in the Language Classroom: A Perspective from Singapore
15:00Sy-Ying LeeIs Multimodal Meaning-Making That New? Building a Literacy Journey from Storytelling to Digital Storytelling for Language Acquirers

September event poster image


Thomas Amundrud
Nara University of Education
JALT Kyoto Chapter President

Teaching and learning are inherently multimodal activities, comprising – but not limited to – gesture, gaze, image, and space within in-person classrooms alone; online teaching restrains or eliminates some of these modes, while making other modes – image, especially – more salient. What it means to be “multimodal” in our scope and thinking as language teachers and researchers of language teaching will be the focus of this talk. I will first define what we mean by “multimodality,” and then look at how different researchers in language teaching have used it to examine teaching and learning. I will also raise some questions that I believe remain open, with the hope that attendees and viewers will ponder how to approach them in their own research. Lastly, with an eye towards our two main speakers, I will close with an opening to what a multimodal lens can mean for the learning we facilitate through our teaching.

Thomas Amundrud headshot

Thomas Amundrud is Associate Professor of English Education at Nara University of Education. His work, which mainly uses the lens of Systemic Functional Multimodal Discourse Analysis (SFMDA), involves the examination and exploration of how teachers mean in the classroom texts they create, as well as how teachers scaffold student meaning through multiple modes. He is currently interested in extending these insights further in the Japanese EFL context at all levels. In so doing, he is committed to expanding justice in language education and beyond.

Fei Victor Lim
National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University

The manifesto for multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) has led to the broadening of our understanding of literacy beyond language learning to multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2015). In response to the clarion call, the literacy curricula around the world have been expanded to include multimodal meaning making, beyond the familiar focus on language learning (e.g., Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2021; Finnish National Board of Education, 2016; Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2020). Singapore has been amongst the forward-looking systems to include multimodal meaning-meaning with language learning in the current 2020 English Language syllabus. While the curriculum has evolved to include the viewing and representing of multimodal texts, the move from literacy to multiliteracies has not been easy. Studies have reported on teachers’ uncertainty about how to design for students’ learning with multimodal texts (Chan, Chia & Choo, 2017; Lim, Towndrow & Tan, 2021; Lim, Chia & Nguyen, 2022). I argue that even as curriculum reforms are necessary, they are, in themselves, insufficient to bring about tangible changes in the classrooms, unless teachers are equipped with ways to design for meaningful learning experiences for multiliteracies (Lim & Tan Chia, 2023). In this talk, I draw on my experience and findings from a multi-phased design-based research project on integrating multiliteracies in the English classrooms in Singapore (Lim, et al. 2022) to explore how teachers and students can engage with multimodal meaning-making in the language classroom. I discuss the challenges expressed by the teachers and students and reflect on the opportunities for growth and the advancing of multiliteracies learning in Singapore. I conclude by discussing the recommendations stemming from the project and highlighting the implications on the pedagogy and the assessment of multiliteracies.

Victor Lim headshot

Dr. Fei Victor Lim is Associate Professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He researches and teaches on multiliteracies, multimodal discourse analyses, and digital learning. He is an editor of Multimodality and Society and an associate editor of Computers and Composition. He is also author of the book, Designing Learning with Embodied Teaching: Perspectives from Multimodality, lead author of the book, Designing Learning for Multimodal Literacy: Teaching Viewing and Representing, published in the Routledge Studies in Multimodality in 2021 and 2023 as well as lead editor of the collection, Designing Learning with Digital Technologies: Perspectives from Multimodality in Education, published in the  Routledge Research in Digital Education and Educational Technology in 2024

Sy-Ying Lee
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology

Literacy around the globe is rapidly transitioning from paper-based reading and writing to multiliteracies that encompass digital reading, viewing, and creating multimodal texts for various purposes. This shift in human literacies necessitates a more suitable pedagogy to equip language learners with the ability to navigate multiliteracies, which are rich in the interplay of text, image, and sound, facilitated by technological advancements (Unsworth, 2001). However, is multimodal meaning-making truly novel for all language learners, including EFL and L2 learners? In this presentation, I argue that individuals who grew up in families with robust home literacy activities and resources have always had access to multimodal multiliteracies and have experienced less frustration with school instruction. Research indicates that children from homes rich in literacy activities, particularly those involving parents’ reading behavior, parents’ read-aloud to children, and children’s own pleasure reading, perform better in vocabulary, spelling, and math (Sullivan & Brown, 2013; Trelease & Giogis, 2019). Picture books, the earliest form of multimodal reading abounding with artistic design, social semiotics, and literary features (Serafini & Reid, 2022), play a crucial role in literacy development at home and school. With this understanding, I advocate for the inclusion of picture story reading as an essential component in primary education. This inclusion facilitates a smooth transition from home literacy to school literacy and supports children from homes lacking in such input. Then I will present course modules designed for Taiwanese students at various educational levels: (1) story listening and digital storytelling composition with high school students as an approach to self-exploration; (2) extensive reading and reflective blogging to foster personalized interests and learning for university students; and (3) digital storytelling as a transformative action towards social responsibility. 

Sy-Ying Lee headshot

Sy-Ying Lee is Professor at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), where she also heads the Center of General Education. Her research interests include second language acquisition, extensive reading, storytelling in EFL teaching, reader-text interaction through blogging, and multimodal multiliteracies. She has published in national and international scholarly journals and is currently serving on the editorial boards for Computers and Composition, Taiwan Journal of TESOL, and English Teaching and Learning. She has received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Special Contributions in Research from the Taiwan Ministry of Science & Technology and the Teaching Excellence Award from National Taipei University three times. Additionally, she is a two-time winner of the PBL Teaching Award at NTUST.