Multimodal Communication in an Early Childhood Bilingual Education Setting: A Social Semiotic Interaction Analysis




bilingual education, dual-language instruction, early childhood education, literacy, multimodal communication, social semiotics


Bilingual learners often integrate semiotic resources and communicative modes across the languages they speak. Unfortunately, current approaches to researching such a phenomenon assign pragmatic functions to individual discourse moves at best or to isolated utterances at worst. Thus, using a social semiotic multimodal interaction analysis, this study examined actions in interac­tions of a group of six transnational students participating in a second-grade literacy circle at a school in western New York, USA. The purpose of this was to account for the complex reciprocities among their multimodal ways of communicating, their learning climate, and ultimately their learning as mediated and evidenced in their integrated multimodal communicative action. Data included four audio recordings of four literacy circle reading activities that took place during a four-day period. Findings sug­gest that, first, learning results from communication. Second, learning can only be evidenced through communication in interaction. Finally, communication is always multimodal and emergent while, at the same time, culturally governed. This presents direct implications for instruction and learning regarding the social conditions afforded to students to access their full repertoire of semiotic resourc­es and modes to participate and act on their own behalf and in pursuit of their learning.

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Author Biographies

Wilder Yesid Escobar-Almeciga, Universidad El Bosque

Director, Licenciatura en Bilingüismo, Faculty of Education, Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá, Colombia.

Dr. Janina Brutt-Griffler, University at Buffalo

Associate Dean of International Education and Language Programs Director, Center for Comparative and Global Studies in Education, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA


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How to Cite

Escobar-Almeciga, W. Y., & Brutt-Griffler, J. (2022). Multimodal Communication in an Early Childhood Bilingual Education Setting: A Social Semiotic Interaction Analysis. Íkala, Revista De Lenguaje Y Cultura, 27(1), 84–104.



Empirical Studies


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