A multimodal pedagogical approach to teach a foreign language to young learners

Susana Liruso, Ana Cecilia Cad and Hernán Ojeda

Punctum, 5(1): 138-158, 2019
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2019.0009


The notion of multimodality highlights the idea that communication takes place in multiple modes, linguistic and non-linguistic. Much of the information produced in our contemporary society is a combination of both, verbal text and image. It is fairly clear, then, that students should develop a set of skills to access and process information in various modes. In consonance with this idea, this paper argues that the inclusion of visual literacy to the teaching of Foreign Languages (FLs) to young learners can enhance communicative abilities, favor language understanding and engagement, and promote critical thinking. Drawing on the theoretical framework proposed by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) who developed a grammar of visual design based on Systemic Functional Linguistics (henceforth SFL), this study concentrates on three aspects of multimodally construed interpersonal/interactive meanings: contact, social distance and subjectivity. Using three classroom interventions, learners´ interpretations and productions of images and language were examined within an EFLcontext at primary level. The findings confirm that young learners were able to assign meaning to images that could be communicated in the foreign language both at the level of comprehension and production. Students showed sustained interest and participated actively in the tasks provided. The paper concludes by emphasizing the need to adopt multimodal pedagogical practices in teaching FLs to young learners.

KEYWORDS: young learners, interactive meanings, visual literacy
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