Volume 27 Number 2, February 2023 Special Issue: Semiotics in CALL

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
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    Call for papers for a special issue on Indigenous Languages and Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) with Technology
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Winke, Paula ; Koné, Kadidja
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    An ecological perspective on the use of memes for language learning
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Han, Yiting ; Smith, Blaine E
    Internet memes—usually taking the form of an image, GIF, or video with text—have become an important type of semiotic tool for meaning making. Due to the fact that memes can help learners leverage semiotic modes in social contexts, they hold great potential for language education. Integrating ecological social semiotic frameworks, this comparative case study examined the semiotic affordances of using memes for language learning in the digital wilds, with a focus on self-identified highly-motivated learner-memers in a university-level student-run Chinese-English intercultural chat group. Data sources included meme artifacts, screen shots, and recordings of meme-related communicative practices as well as semi-structed interviews with each participant. Analysis suggests there were four affordances perceived and utilized by the participants, including linking learners to emergent semiotic repertoires, L2 user agency, increased motivation, and personhood development. Key to learners’ experiences was their awareness of perceived semiotic affordances and their agency to participate in meaning making for potentially meaningful learning experiences. We conclude with pedagogical implications for integrating the rich semiotic resources of memes into language classrooms.
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    Virtual world-supported contextualized multimodal EFL learning at a library
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Guo, Siao-Cing ; Lan, Yu-Ju
    This study aims to investigate the influence of story creation on young EFL learners’ reading performance. Action research was adopted to examine the effects of two different story reading projects in a library setting in Taiwan. Each project comprised a group of 19 young EFL learner from Grades 4 to 6 (aged 10-12). The first group’s activities consisted of picture storybook reading and word games. The results obtained from the pre- and post-reading tests on the learners’ performance revealed an increase in their English reading scores. But the results of the learners’ motivation and anxiety questionnaire were unsatisfactory. To overcome this discrepancy, a 3D virtual construction task using Omni-immersion Vision, an online VR construction tool, was added to the reading activity. This let the students express their ideas through multimodal resources including text and images in their stories and their 3D virtual contexts. The results showed that the second group made improvements not only in their English language reading but also in their learning motivation, and they demonstrated lower levels of anxiety than the first group. It appears that a combination of multimodal stories and context construction in virtual worlds benefited EFL learners.
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    Learning a foreign language and locality through an animated documentary film
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Burr, Solvita
    This paper describes one 4-week long online language learning module which utilizes the animated documentary film My Favorite War (Burkovska-Jakobsen, 2020) and analyzes four students’ final essays. The learning module was created considering ethnographic views of cultural inferences (Spradley, 2016), the framework of social space (Lefebvre, 1991), multimodal theory (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006), and the model of learning activities, or knowledge processes (Cope & Kalantzis, 2015). It was developed for a Latvian language course at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) in 2021. Its goals are to help students learn more about the target language and locals’ place-based experiences, and to promote students’ semiotic consciousness while developing their multiliteracies. However, the assignment’s assessment criteria related to the interaction of semiotic resources and of linguistic and non-linguistic information were not shared in order to find out if students would include these issues in their essays. Analysis of students’ essays show that after the learning module, students were able to comprehend (a) some individual compositional elements from the film; (b) symbolic and functional meanings of differently marked spaces; and (c) the main character’s feelings in various social spaces, internal conflicts, relationship models, and thoughts about family, work, war, historical truth, and independence. The described learning model can inspire educators worldwide to develop similar teaching practices for other less commonly taught languages.
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    Integrating semiotic resources in CALL activity designs
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Suvorov, Ruslan ; Gruba, Paul
    Grounded in the three-tiered transdisciplinary SLA framework of the Douglas Fir Group (2016), we explore how the concept of ‘semiotic resources’ may be integrated into CALL activity designs. Starting at the macro level, we discuss how language ideology may influence where to situate semiotic resources within initial design considerations. We next move to the meso level, the site of community and social negotiation, to look at how the departmental culture and personal orientation may influence design choices. Our attention then turns to the micro level where we define the roles semiotic resources may play through concepts used in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). Moving from theory to practice, we describe how 14 pre-service ESL/EFL teachers in a graduate-level course designed CALL activities. Based on an analysis of their CALL activity designs and research-informed commentaries, we show how students were concerned with designs that highlighted textual aspects of semiotic resources. Such results, not surprisingly, point to the ways macro and meso levels may influence how semiotic resources surface within micro-level activity designs. We conclude by discussing the importance of taking a transdisciplinary approach to promoting language learning as semiotic learning in CALL designs and propose several areas for future research.
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    Negotiation of meaning via virtual exchange in immersive virtual reality environments
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Chen, Hsin-I ; Sevilla-Pavón, Ana
    This study examines how English-as-lingua-franca (ELF) learners employ semiotic resources, including head movements, gestures, facial expression, body posture, and spatial juxtaposition, to negotiate for meaning in an immersive virtual reality (VR) environment. Ten ELF learners participated in a Taiwan-Spain VR virtual exchange project and completed two VR tasks on an immersive VR platform. Multiple datasets, including the recordings of VR sessions, pre- and post-task questionnaires, observation notes, and stimulated recall interviews, were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively with triangulation. Built upon multimodal interaction analysis (Norris, 2004) and Varonis and Gass’ (1985a) negotiation of meaning model, the findings indicate that ELF learners utilized different embodied semiotic resources in constructing and negotiating meaning at all primes to achieve effective communication in an immersive VR space. The avatar-mediated representations and semiotic modalities were shown to facilitate indication, comprehension, and explanation to signal and resolve non-understanding instances. The findings show that with space proxemics and object handling as the two distinct features of VR-supported environments, VR platforms transform learners’ social interaction from plane to three-dimensional communication, and from verbal to embodied, which promotes embodied learning. VR thus serves as a powerful immersive interactive environment for ELF learners from distant locations to be engaged in situated languacultural practices that goes beyond physical space. Pedagogical implications are discussed.
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    Multimodal representation in virtual exchange: A social semiotic approach to critical digital literacy
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Satar, Müge ; Hauck, Mirjam ; Bilki, Zeynep
    For agentive and influential involvement in online communities, language learners and teachers need to develop critical digital literacy (CDL), conceptualized by Darvin (2017) as an awareness of “how meanings are represented in ways that maintain and reproduce relations of power” (p. 5) and thus privilege some and marginalize others online. Virtual exchange (VE) provides an ideal socio-cultural and socio-semiotic context for fostering CDL (Hauck, 2019) as it is an educational intervention that is—by default—digitally mediated. In this contribution, we examine the employment of semiotic practices for multimodal representation and how they “shape power relations with others” (Bezemer & Jewitt, 2009, p. 1), thereby drawing on a social semiotic approach (Bezemer & Kress, 2016) to CDL (Bilki et al., 2023). Our insights stem from a six-week VE between two higher education institutions in Turkey and the UK, which brought together 48 future English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers. The task-based exchanges yielded a rich dataset which allows us to illustrate how CDL is materially achieved through transformative processes observed in multicultural, multilingual, and multimodal interactions. Our findings speak to Kern’s (2014, 2015) appeal for a relational pedagogy and highlight the need to promote CDL in EFL teaching and teacher education to foster critical reflection on meaning-making conventions while exercising agency to establish powerful online relations with others.
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    Geosemiotics as a multiperspectivist lens: Theorizing L2 use of semiotic resources in negotiation of meaning with mobiles from outside the classroom
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Lee, Helen ; Hampel, Regine
    The theorization of how multimodal learning intersects with online teaching environments has emerged as a key research area in relationship to the creation of opportunities for L2 online interaction. However, there are few studies which have examined how cross-cultural dyads harness and orchestrate semiotic resources across mobile technologies from real-world locations. This paper reports on how the geosemiotics framework provided a multiperspectivist lens (i.e., one which allowed for multiple perspectives which included taking account of embodied communication, material place, and learners’ deployment of mobile devices and cameras to convey visuals). The theory of negotiation of meaning was also introduced to comprehend how L2 meaning is negotiated multimodally in ways potentially beneficial to second language acquisition. In this qualitative study, speaking tasks were supported by tablets and smartphones from outside the classroom. The aim was to foster negotiation of meaning through dyads locating and sharing public semiotic resources situated in places included cafés and museum. Findings show that learners co-deploy different semiotic resources to clarify task information and engage in word search and negotiation of lexis—with non-understanding also triggered by embodied and visual resources. Conclusions consider implications in fostering negotiation through pedagogic task design which harnesses semiotic resources in “place.”
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    Sociotechnical structures, materialist semiotics, and online language learning
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Darvin, Ron
    Based on a study of the digital literacy practices of immigrant Filipino students in Vancouver, this paper focuses on how learners with unequal access to resources engage with different tools to locate information and find opportunities for language learning online. Data was collected through interviews and observations of participants as they used YouTube, Google Search, and Google Translate to decode unfamiliar words and find resources for learning. Framed through a materialist semiotic lens, this study examined how the students negotiated their resources on these platforms to achieve different intentions. Findings show that the way learners navigate these spaces can vary based on the devices they use (laptop vs. mobile phone), the user interface (browser vs. app), and the orientation they choose (landscape vs. portrait). The material dimensions of the screen determine the arrangement of semiotic forms, and varying configurations of devices, interfaces, and orientations shape the information made available to the learner and the digital literacy practices of scrolling, clicking, and shifting tabs. Recognizing how the online environment of a platform can shift across these layers of mediation, this paper conceptualizes the linguistic and semiotic forms that constitute design as sociotechnical structures which provide various learning affordances and constraints.
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    Emerging spaces for language learning: AI bots, ambient intelligence, and the metaverse
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2023-02-13) Godwin-Jones, Robert ; Godwin-Jones, Robert
    Looking at human communication from the perspective of semiotics extends our view beyond verbal language to consider other sign systems and meaning-making resources. Those include gestures, body language, images, and sounds. From this perspective, the communicative process expands from individual mental processes of verbalizing to include features of the environment, the place and space in which the communication occurs. It may be—and it is increasingly the case today—that language is mediated through digital networks. Online communication has become multimodal in virtually all platforms. At the same time, mobile devices have become indispensable digital companions, extending our perceptive and cognitive abilities. Advances in artificial intelligence are enabling tools that have considerable potential for language learning, as well as creating more complexity in the relationship between humans and the material world. In this column, we will be looking at changing perspectives on the role of place and space in language learning, as mobile, embedded, virtual, and reality-augmenting technologies play an ever-increasing role in our lives. Understanding that dynamic is aided by theories and frameworks such as 4E cognition and sociomaterialism, which posit closer connections between human cognition/language and the world around us.