Infusing multiliteracies into English language curriculum: The visual construction of knowledge in English textbooks from an ontogenetic perspective

Nancy Songdan Guo, Dezheng Feng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Addressing the need for multiliteracies in language education, this paper investigates the visual construction of knowledge in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks in Hong Kong and develops a social semiotic framework for infusing the senior primary (P4-6) and the secondary (S1-4) English language curricula with multiliteracies. By explicating the ontogenetic change of the representational meaning of visual images in textbooks, we find that textbook illustrations change from narrative to conceptual representations in terms of process, from specific to generic in terms of participant, and from local to global in terms of settings. The changes in image structure are found consistent with the change of text type from narrating to expounding, in accordance with students' cognitive abilities. Such ontogenetic change contributes to the change of knowledge domain from the concrete and commonsensical in early years of schooling, to the abstract and uncommonsensical in later years of schooling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-129
Number of pages15
JournalLinguistics and Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • EFL textbooks
  • English language curriculum
  • Knowledge construction
  • Multiliteracies
  • Representational meanings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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