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ALC8021 : Multimodal Communication

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Spencer Hazel
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces the students to a range of approaches to understanding spoken language and gesture-in-use in Applied Linguistics and beyond. It provides students with an awareness and understanding of the importance of discourse that exists ‘beyond the word’, in real life contexts. Students will be introduced to on-going research in the field, focusing specifically on multimodal interaction analytic methods, discussing how these may be used for investigating patterns of gesture use in institutional settings such as the language classroom, healthcare and instruction. It draws on approaches used in the study of spoken discourse such as micro-ethnography, conversation analysis and context analysis, and covers specific theoretical topics which include language and context, capturing, coding and querying gesture-in-use, adapting corpus methods for multimodal analysis and the generic features of spoken language.
As the module progresses, students will have the opportunity to carry out guided analyses of gesture-in-use in case studies of institutional environments, such as teaching and learning. This will allow them to start questioning, for example:
•       Patterns of gesture used by teachers and how it relates to the content/methods used in their teaching.

•       Do teachers gesture in different ways according to what they are trying to teach?
o How do patterns of gestures used by the teachers relate to the content of the lesson?
•       Can gestures be used as a teaching ‘device’?

•       Gesture use by students and how this relates to the words spoken by them.
o Do students who perform ‘better’ use gesture-in-talk in a different way to others?
The relationship between gestures used by teachers and students, when communicating with each other.

•       How do they mirror, complement and contradict each other and what possible impact might this have?
How gestures are used by teachers and learners of different cultures.
o How are they similar/different and what affect does this have on communication?
As part of their assignment, students will be given the opportunity to examine specific features of language and gesture-in-use as evidenced by multimodal institutional discourse, in order to answer similar lines of enquiry to those seen above.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Introductory session: multimodal interaction and language research
2. Investigating social interaction as multimodal object of study
3. Classifying embodied action: Gesture
4. Semiotics & Communication
5. Multimodal discourse analysis
6. Multimodality and representations of reality
7. The body and its natural environment I – doing things with objects
8. The body and its natural environment II – the socially constructed body
9. Multimodal analysis as an applied science
10. Methodological procedures for carrying out multimodal communication analysis: carrying out case studies
11. Drop-in session

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials100:305:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading130:0030:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study183:0083:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide an introduction to the weekly content, establish a basic level of understanding of the topic, provide opportunities for discussion and personal reflections, and signal areas for individual further study and essential and further reading. Group activities are often linked to analysis of multimodal data and/or pre-class weekly reading.

Structured Guided Learning activities provide students with weekly opportunities to consolidate learning through guided tasks linked to the weekly topic.

Independent study will enable wider reading, further personal self-reflection and assignment preparation.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Reflective log2M40Reflective Learning Log (1,500 words)
Essay2A60Essay - 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Study and data analysis skills, and other relevant knowledge and skills, will be assessed through the reflective learning log. Critical understanding of relevant theory will be assessed through the end of module essay.

Reading Lists