[Multimodality Talks Series] Multimodal communication in emergent multilingual contexts: analyzing tutor-students’ interactions

Date:  20 January 2023

Time: 12.00 -1.30 pm GMT

Place: online via Zoom

Speaker: Dr Maria Papadopoulou, Associate Professor in Language and Literacy Education at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

To attend the talk please register here: 

To watch the recorded talk, please see here



Over the last years Europe has experienced the greater mass movement since the Second World War. Nearly one third of the population that found refuge in Europe were children. During their refugee road, more often than not, children becοme emergent multilinguals as they are usually exposed to many languages and cultures and are obliged to communicate in various and previously unknown environments.

The presentation discusses communication practices adopted by children with refugee experience during a six months’ project aiming at facilitating children’s adaptation to the new environment and their coming back to school, by introducing Drama techniques to the learning of basic communication skills in the school language. Given the fact that those who participated in the project shared very few language resources, communication was heavily relied verbal and non-verbal modes of meaning making.

Data were gathered through participant observation and video recordings. A multimodal framework, adapted by Norris (2004), was used to analyze tutor-students’ interactions. Taking as example two communicative instances between children and tutor, we discuss how video recordings can be used to enlighten the ways emergent multilinguals make meaning. The outcomes of the research suggest that a variety of representational modes was used to enable communication. Extensive use of translanguaging (children’s native language, English and Greek), facial and body expressions, gestures, gaze were used to convey meaning, increased the children’s involvement in the interaction and empowered them as language users.

Related work

Vitsou, M., & Papadopoulou, M. (accepted to be published). ‘At First It Was Like A Bridge Closed From Both Sides’: Pre-Service Teachers Participate In A Drama-Based Project With Refugee Children. In A. W. Wiseman, & L. Damaschke-Deitrick (Eds.). Education for Refugees and Forced Im/Migrants across Time and Context. Emerald Publishing

Papadopoulou, M. Vitsou, M., & Gana, E. (2022). Puppet handling for meaning making: a framework for the analysis of refugee children’s multimodal interactions. DIALOGOI: theory and action in Education Sciences, 8 [IN GREEK]. Available at https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/dialogoi/article/view/28249

Vitsou, M., Papadopoulou, M., & Gana, E. (2020). Getting them back to class: a project to engage refugee children in school using drama pedagogy. Scenariο journal, XIV (2), 42-59. https://journals.ucc.ie/index.php/scenario/article/view/scenario-14-2-3

Vitsou, M., Papadopoulou, M., & Gana, E. (2019). Drama Pedagogy for Refugee Children: means for Empowerment and Communication. Babylonia, Thematic Issue: ‘Languages on the Move’ (Guest editors: Laura Loder Büchel & Nikola Mayer), 3, 44-49 (*)


Maria Papadopoulou is an Associate Professor in Language and Literacy Education at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She has participated in more than twenty (20) research projects. She has been Director of the Master Program ‘Language education for refugees and migrants’ at the Hellenic Open University. She co-edited the special issue ‘Multimodality in Education’ for ‘PUNCTUM’ and organized a special panel on ‘Semiotics in Education’ for the 15th World Conference of Semiotics. Her research interests focus on: Early literacy, Second language learning, Visual Semiotics, Multimodality.

academic profiles: https://www.nured.auth.gr/dp7nured/?q=en/userprofile_en/986 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Maria_Papadopoulou16

Multimodality Talks_Maria Papadopoulou image

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