While we learn languages to communicate, language is not the only or even (at times) the primary mode of communication. These two simple understandings, which underlie the expanding interest of language educators and researchers in multimodality, and underpin shifts in our thinking about discourse, texts, and language pedagogies, are being reimagined to acknowledge the increasing prominence of nonlinguistic modes. This interest is broad-based, extends across international borders and linguistic communities, and entails much more than the simple addition of visual literacy to the crowded lists of skill sets demanded of English language learners. It is driven by more than two decades of research in education, in linguistics and semiotics, and in fields as diverse as Internet and communication studies; it has led those within the field of language education to more explicitly rethink how language is used in contemporary learning contexts and the world beyond. Our own interest in these issues predates the currency of the term multimodality, and is informed by our years as teachers and researchers across a range of geographic, institutional and cultural contexts; by our work with young children, adolescents, and adults; and by our work with learners privileged and those disadvantaged by contemporary socioeconomic and political conditions. We are very pleased, therefore, to be editing this special issue on multimodality.
Teaching Methods and Strategies