Interpersonal Meaning in Textbooks for Teaching English as a Foreign Language in China: A Multimodal Approach
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AbstractDoctor of Philosophy(PhD)
There is increasing awareness among linguists that discourse analysis inevitably involves analyses of meanings arising from the combination of multiple modes of communication. The evolving multimodal pedagogic environment for teaching English as a foreign language (henceforth EFL), among other communicative contexts, calls for a social, semiotic, and linguistic explanation. Situated within the theoretical landscape of social semiotics and in the pedagogic context of EFL education, the present study aims to elucidate how linguistic and visual semiotic resources are co-deployed to construe interpersonal meaning in multimodal textbooks. The data drawn upon are eighteen EFL textbooks for primary and secondary schooling, published by People’s Education Press between 2002 and 2006. The research design consists of three complementary sub-studies. First, it investigates the ways in which the semantic regions of ENGAGEMENT and GRADUATION can be modelled in multimodal texts, with special reference to the interplay of voices in textbook discourse. The second sub-study analyzes how verbal and visual semiotic resources are co-deployed to construe the ‘emotion and attitude’ goal highlighted in curriculum standards, with a particular focus on verbiage-image relations. Third, it extends the linguistic concept ‘modality’ to multimodal discourse, exploring coding orientation in texts for different educational contexts and between different constituent genres. The main findings of this thesis are as follows: (1) A range of multimodal resources (i.e. labelling, dialogue balloon, jointly-constructed text, illustration and highlighting) are identified as enabling editor voice to negotiate meanings with reader voice and character voice. It is found that the way in which an ENGAGEMENT value can be scaled is strongly associated with the intrinsic property of the given multimodal resource. The interaction between multiple voices is closely related to contact, social distance, and point of view. (2) It is shown that images play an essential role in realizing attitudinal meanings. Together with verbal APPRAISAL resources, visual semiotic features work to position the readers in ways that align them to set pedagogic goals, guiding them in completing jointly-constructed texts. Moreover, an attitudinal shift from an emotional release to a more institutionalized type of evaluation can be identified as students advance through the school years. (3) It is argued that what counts as real in multimodal texts is socially defined and specific to a given communicative context. The nature of pedagogic discourse should be taken into account when visual displays are produced for pedagogic materials. The implications of this study include both theoretical and pedagogic aspects。Theoretically it adapts and extends APPRAISAL analysis to multimodal discourse, exploring the intersemiotic complementarity and co-instantiation in construing global evaluative stance. This semiotic exploration, in return, suggests ways in which discourse analysis may help textbook users better understand and interpret the multimodal features. With the affordances as well as limitations of semiotic resources made explicit, we may have one step further towards a comprehensive and critical understanding of multimodal construal of interpersonal meaning in pedagogic materials.