Dr William Feng

Hong Kong Polytechnic University


My research focuses on the analysis of various types of multimodal discourse, such as advertising, film, newspaper, social media, classroom teaching, and textbooks. The main theoretical approaches I adopt fall within the areas of systemic functional linguistics (SFL), critical discourse analysis, conceptual metaphor theory (CMT), and pragmatics. A main theoretical focus of my research has been to integrate SFL and CMT in describing visual metaphors and metonymies. My analysis of multimodal discourse is essentially social and critical. I consider multimodal discourses as social semiotic constructs which realize specific communicative purposes and social functions on the one hand, and reflect social values, culture, and ideology on the other. My recent research has two focuses. One is on social values, attitudes, culture and ideology in political, news, public service and textbook discourses. The other is on corporate communication and advertising in new media (social media and e-commerce). A particular focus is on marketised university communication through website and social media from a cross-cultural perspective.

"Infusing moral education into English language teaching: A multimodal analysis of social values in EFL textbooks in Hong Kong"

In this talk, I will discuss the multimodal representation of social values and their ontogenetic development in a corpus of EFL textbooks in Hong Kong. This study considers social values in textbooks as complex semiotic discursive constructs involving language and visual images, and attempts to map out the choices available in their multimodal construction. Analysis shows that the social values follow a clear pattern of development from the personal domain (e.g., hygiene habits and healthy lifestyle), through the interpersonal domain (e.g., politeness and respect), to the altruistic concern of the whole of mankind, consistent with psychological theories of moral development. The result also suggests that the textbooks are more concerned with the didactic education of good citizens than with cultivating children’s critical thinking. The analytical framework and the findings can be used for explicit instruction and critical analysis of social values in language teaching, as well as in the teaching of science, history and other subjects. In terms of implications for education research, it demonstrates a discourse approach that can be applied to the analysis of textbooks, classroom teaching, and multimedia materials.

Professor Alejandra Meneses

Pontificia Catholic University, Chile


Professor Meneses is an Associate Professor of Language and Literacy, and head of the Department of Teaching and Learning at Facultad de Educación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She is an educational linguist and researcher of Factoría Ideas. She also belongs to 「Language for Learning Research Group」 lead by Paola Uccelli, Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research is focused on the development of academic language across the school and its relations with reading and learning in subject matters, especially, in Science. She is currently leading a four-year grant aimed to increase students’ opportunities to learn Science through explicit academic language instruction. She has also conducted research into multimodal reading comprehension to improve Science understanding.

"Lessons from Chilean Research to Scaffold Science Learning through Academic Language"

An increasing number of studies have shown literacy’s relevance for science learning in school contexts, specifically how science learning can mediate the relationship between language and literacy skills. However, few of them have taken place in Latin American schools. In this presentation, the results from two studies conducted in Chilean elementary schools (Grades 4 and 5) will be shared.

The first study explored how verbal and visual resources (scaffolding level) and individual differences (reading skills) contribute to science reading comprehension. One-hundred and sixty Chilean fifth-graders were assessed on reading skills, vocabulary, and prior science knowledge. A counterbalanced design was used to test two groups: Group 1 read a text with low multimodal scaffolding and Group 2 read a text with high multimodal scaffolding. Level of text scaffolding was determined by (1) image function, (2) visual-verbal relations, (3) presence of an explicit explanatory structure, and (4) lexico-grammatical resources. An ANCOVA analysis revealed nonsignificant differences between groups after controlling for prior knowledge, fluency, and vocabulary. Likewise, a two-factor ANCOVA analysis showed that the high-multimodal scaffolding text significantly boosted science reading comprehension for low skilled comprehenders. This study discusses the implications of these findings for pedagogy and research, aiming to foster multimodal literacy for learning in content areas.

The second study examined the effects of an intervention in science. CLIC! is a project aimed to improve Science learning through explicit academic language instruction embedded in a Science inquiry lesson. Focused on low-income 4th Chilean graders students, it includes evaluation instruments, lesson materials, and teacher professional development. In year 1 (2016), 175 students and four teachers participated in the intervention from 3 low SES schools (Santiago, Chile). In year 2 (2017), 374 students and seven teachers participated from 7 low SES schools. The preliminary results of year 1 show that students increased significantly in Academic Language, Academic Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension and Science Learning. The higher effect size was found for Academic Language (d=0.95) and Science Learning (d=0.80). This study contributes with evidence in Spanish of how academic language and disciplinary literacy are key factors to promote educational equity among low-income students.



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