Asia-Pacific Science Education
School of Education
The visual mode provides emergent bi/multilinguals an essential resource to construct scientific explanations. Yet, while a metalanguage is used to describe the written mode of scientific language such as, claim, evidence, reason; there is little research that makes students aware of the metalanguage of a visual mode. We propose an introduction to the visual metalanguage will ensure emergent bi/multilinguals better access to the visual mode. This study employs an instrumental case study to examine the introduction of visual metalanguage to a fifth-grade science class. Two cameras record ten emergent bi/multilinguals as they construct scientific explanations in nine lessons. We use a framework informed by social semiotics to analyse the meanings made. The data revealed that an awareness of the visual metalanguage led to an enhanced commitment to illustrate the explanation of the phenomenon, illuminated key concepts and provided more context to the audience. In addition, teacher questioning became more focused.
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