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Exploring EFL students’ digital multimodal composing practices on intercultural learning experiences: intermodal relations and transmodal moments for critical multimodal literacy

Ming-i Lydia Tseng
Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan


The “trans” turn in applied linguistics points to the need of taking account of “transmodalities” (Hawkins, 2018) in digital multimodal compositions and intercultural/transnational communication as increasingly common in this globalized world for knowledge production and dissemination. As few studies address challenges about shifting modes across semiotic boundaries in multimodal composing which involves digital technology, this study fills the gap to integrate both multimodality and transmodalities for investigating a group of EFL university students’ digital multimodal composing (DMC) practices.

Guided by socio-semiotic ethnography, this research focused on 16 Taiwanese university students who engaged in two intercultural learning projects when taking one semester’s intercultural communication course. Taking a process-oriented approach of multimodal composition and a critical perspective of multimodal literacy, the study scrutinized two interconnected aspects of the students’ DMC practices: intermodal relations and transmodalities. Multiple data sources were collected and relevant analytical frameworks were drawn upon for data analysis: language-image intermodal relations (Unsworth, 2006), analysis of transmodal moments (Hawkins, 2018), and thematic analysis of intercultural competence and intercultural awareness levels (Byram, 2014, Baker, 2021).

Through triangulating data analyses, the researcher identified a series of critical incidents and transmodal moments, which occurred as EFL students moved across various semiotic modes to construct meanings. These meanings underlined or suppressed the particular aspects of the students’ intercultural learning experiences manifested in their DMC practices. This entailed the students’ growing awareness of intermodal relations and meaning making in transmodal remediation, which also improved their intercultural competence for global communication. Such an awareness facilitated the students’ development of critical multimodal literacy, specifically transformative learning to enhance digital multimodal composing competence and to (re)construct identities in intercultural/transcultural communication. These insights can provide language and literacy teachers and practitioners to design and implement curriculum centered on critical multimodal literacy for intercultural citizenship.


digital multimodal composing, intermodal relation, transmodalities, intercultural learning, critical multimodal literacy

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023