International Journal of Science Education
Taylor and Francis
School of Education
In response to the globally escalating number of language learners tasked with learning science through a foreign language, this review seeks to bring new perspectives by reframing research findings, still dominated by historical language assumptions, through a contemporary language lens. We aim to unearth, amalgamate and expose the potentials of non-linguistic modes described by the theory of multiliteracies that appear sporadic and fragmentary within studies due to their linguistic focus, as we surmise they offer language learners alternative avenues for meaning-making. 40 peer-reviewed empirical studies published between 1995 and 2019 were systematically found and examined using theoretical thematic analysis to expand our understandings. We conjectured findings that appeared contingent upon non-linguistic modes but did not prominently feature in the reported results. In doing so, we used a multimodal and translanguaging lens from which three themes and educational implications emerged. The integration of non-linguistic modes in science: (1) aided language learners’ science discourse, provided they had access to multiple modes and agency over expression; (2) facilitated multicultural learning communities validating each learner as a sense maker; and (3) promoted authentic and equitable learning experiences. Other noteworthy findings, such as the influence of the tactile mode, are discussed. Recommendations to future researchers include adopting epistemologies of language fitting to our century and developing transdisciplinary approaches to research.
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