March 2022
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Radia Bouguebs, ENS "Assia Djebar," Constantine, Algeria
Nadia Idri, Abderrahmane Mira University, Bejaia-LESMS research Lab, Algeria

Radia Bouguebs

Nadia Idri

1. Introduction

Advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and its worldwide emergence in people’s lives have changed the communication landscape dramatically. Under such a changing climate, digital and multimodal practices are becoming common in the meaning-making of 21st century English as Foreign Language (EFL) learners. To maintain the communication flow and remain involved within their communities, they developed new digital skills as a repercussion to the multimodal technologies affordances including social networking, digital media, etc. The prevalence of this new communication landscape has deeply altered the terrain of language and literacy education.

In today’s educational settings, digital communication technology is frequently used in language classrooms. Learners prefer to present their classroom’s works via technologies that combine features extracted from different modalities (text, audio, image, etc.). They frequently use PowerPoint Presentation applications, photos, uploading videos, etc. When more than one mode is used to express meaning, the result is multimodality. Multimodality represents “The combination of different semiotic modes – for example, language and music – in a communicative artefact or event” (Leeuwen, 2005, p. 281).

Students’ talent in manipulating semiotic modes including visual, verbal, written, gestural and musical resources while communicating calls upon a change in the teaching/learning approach. In order to take benefit from this diversity in meaning-making, EFL educators are urged to integrate multimodal practices into their language instruction that involves the manipulation of visual, gestural, spatial, kinaesthetic, images, and sound, mediated through the use of apps, platforms and networks available in the digital devices. Since then, the integration of multimodality-based instruction into the EFL classroom is more than ever a must, especially with the sudden shift to digital learning with the COVID-19 pandemic, to satisfy the needs of a category of learners who are digitally oriented and digitally skilled.

2. Multimodality: Gaining Prosperity in EFL Classroom

During the COVID-19 time, increasing attention has been given to multimodal language learning. Since the primary task of educational institutions is to make the process of creating, protecting, integrating, transmitting and applying knowledge an easy and accessible one, it is also their role to find appropriate and effective strategies to change their ways of teaching and to move towards the use of different educational platforms. Like all the educational institutions in the world, “Algerian schools and universities have adopted various designs for distance education, like online lectures, distance drills and exercises, virtual tutorials, video conferences, group works, and assessments” (Benadla & Hadji, 2021 as cited in Bouguebs, 2021, p. 143). Post to the pandemic, the new protocol suggested by the Algerian ministry of education to resume classes by keeping on remote learning makes multimodal pedagogy the appropriate alternative.

Because of the multimodal nature of online contexts, teaching has become much more than being able to read and write. Under such a changing climate, students were immersed in a learning environment that gives them both the opportunity to carry out their educational activities remotely benefiting from the websites, digital platforms’ feature. Owing to the fact that students’ competency in manipulating the semiotic modes while communicating may surpass their teachers’ one, it is highly recommended to integrate multimodal practices in EFL classes.

3. Introducing Multimodal Pedagogy

Multimodality is a skill that involves the use of "multiple" modes of representation to convey and produce meaning via a harmonious combination of elements including linguistic (written and spoken), visual, spatial, aural, and gestural modes. Multimodality or social semiotics “includes questions around the potentials – the affordances – of the resources that are available in any one society for the making of meaning; and how, therefore, ‘knowledge’ appears differently in different modes” (Kress, 2011, p. 38).

The diversification of the modes for meaning-making to fit the communicative purposes of a given social context makes multimodality a suitable pedagogy for English instruction. This new evolving educational concept and practice is regarded as a source of creativity and modernity for both teachers and students.

Numerous benefits could be gained from the integration of this new pedagogy. Besides fostering students’ multimodal competence, studies revealed the effectiveness of implementing multimodal tasks in TESOL teacher education. This will more likely help in facilitating for them the safe integration of multimodal pedagogy in their future classrooms.

4. Facilitating the Integration of Multimodal Pedagogy in EFL Setting

The shift in strategy-based instruction from print-based instruction to multimodal based instruction necessitates a deep reflection on how teaching and learning is conceived, approached and practised.

The new demands of the rapidly changing digitalized world with the high-tech generation makes skills people need change accordingly. That is why; opting for a multimodal-based instruction makes teachers guarantee students’ use of diverse competencies and eventually become more attentive, more engaged, more involved, and more creative. In EFL contexts, integrating multimodal pedagogy needs to be facilitated through the diversity of the activities and the materials; (or “modes”) they need to employ namely: pictures, videos, audios, listening materials (conversations, story-telling, songs), body language, suprasegments, colors, figures, illustrations, sounds (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001).

However, there should be a quick response from language teachers to take advantage of multimodality. That is why, this paper comes to pave the way to a series of papers, workshops and conferences related to action research and syllabus design so as to facilitate the integration of multimodality in EFL classrooms.

5. Sample of Multimodal Tasks

According to the literature, researches involving the multimodal-based instruction in the EFL classrooms in Algeria are scarce. Accordingly, we dig deep in other EFL setting were researches in this field are more advanced to supply Algerian EFL teachers with examples of a multimodal tasks. We selected samples from Li’s (2020). Teachers were asked to create effective instructional resources for their ESL/EFL students using ICT tools and drawing on selected language teaching methods and principles (Li, 2020, p. 4). The multimodal assignments are as follows:

  • Google Slides presentation with audio to present English phonetic consonant;
  • E-book video using Canvas (music embedded) to present Thai consonant;
  • PowerPoint presentation with animation to present English word formation;
  • Online presentation using Nearpod and Flipgrid to present English pronouns (this presentation includes both lecture and assessment);
  • Prezi presentation with audio to teach Rhyming with rimes (lecture)

Figure 1 and 2 are illustrations of two assignments created by two participants in Li’s study.

a. Video-embeded e-books

Figure 1. A screenshot of one page in the participant’s video-embedded E-book.

(Source: Li, 2020, p.7)

b. Video-embedded PowerPoint Project:

Figure 2. A screenshot of one page in the participant’s Video-embedded PowerPoint project

(Source: Li, 2020, p.7)


The EFL context is by nature interactive and embeds interpersonal relationships, culture, discourse, emotions, diversity, etc. Sticking to the traditional methods based on language accuracy, mere linguistic features of language use, and scores when performing in a foreign language makes the learning-teaching processes complex. A shifting paradigm is needed more than ever with the destabilized learning in the COVID-19 era. Urgent changes should be made and multimodal-based instruction should be in the heart of the next programmes. Students possess different modes for learning, have different socio-cultural backgrounds, and have unique learning styles. That is why, students’ differences make of the learning experience unique for every student. With multimodality, we can offer a multitude of tasks to teach the same content.

In a nutshell, moving to multimodal approach is moving to equity in education, equality in opportunities, and to a more inclusive learning.


Bouguebs, R. (2021). Integrating flipped learning pedagogy in higher education: Fitting the needs of COVID-19 generation. Applied Linguistics, 5(9), 144- 155

Kress, G. R. & van Leeuwen, T. (2001). Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. Edward Arnold.

Kress, G. (2011). Multimodal discourse analysis. In Gee, J. P & Michael Handford, M (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis (pp. 35-50). Routledge.

Li, M. (2020). Multimodal pedagogy in TESOL teacher education: Students’ perspectives System, 94.

Freyn, A. L., & Ed. D. (2017). Effects of a multimodal approach on ESL/EFL university students’ attitudes towards poetry. Journal of Education and Practice,8(8), 81-

Dr. Radia Bouguebs is a senior lecturer at the Department of English in the Ecole Normale Supérieure “Assia Djebar” of Constantine. She holds a PHD degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Constantine- 1-. She has been teaching English for more than 15 years. Her research interests are technology enhanced language teaching/learning, reading and writing effective teaching methods, mobile assisted language teaching/ learning, ESP teaching/learning. She has many publications nationally and internationally. She started a rich reviewing experience in various committees in academic journals and editorial boards since 2019.

Pr. Nadia Idri is an Algerian full professor at the Department of English, Bejaia University, and a project manager of EMP-Bejaia (English for Medical Purposes) in the Faculty of Medicine. She is chairing a research team in LESMS lab. She is a major in applied linguistics and ELT, and a minor in educational psychology. She is a founding member of the Algerian English Language Teacher Training Workshops (AELTT); an Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (EIEF) winner in 2015) sponsored by the US Department of State. She chaired the Master of Linguistics and the scientific committee of the Department of English for six years. In her faculty, she has been an active participant in most pedagogic and scientific tasks like teacher development and evaluation, doctoral training and mentoring, self-evaluation cell, quality assurance cell, the Council of ethics and deontology, “cellule d’accompagnement de sensibilisation, d’appui et de médiation » (CASAM). She is an associate editor of the journal “Traduction et Langues”, and the editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Studies in Language, Culture and society (JSLCS). Nadia is the founder of the creative writing and academic writing competitions (CWAWC) in Algeria since 2015 and is recently a volunteer in the TEMPUS-EMEI project about inclusive education in the Maghreb in her university. In addition, Nadia is the owner and CEO of the private school “MASSA School”.
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