Staples, Shelley, and Jeroen Gevers (University of Arizona)

The New London Group (1996) emphasized the fact that meaning-making is multi-modal, including textual, linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, and spatial elements. While traditional second language (L2) academic writing courses and research on (L2) academic writing has focused primarily on the linguistic and textual elements of communication, multi-modal composing is an increasingly important part of all academic courses. There is also evidence that multimodal composition may have a positive impact on language development for L2 writers (see, e.g., Vandommele, Van den Branden, Van Gorp, and De Maeyer, 2017). First year writing courses in the U.S., which aim to prepare students for the writing and other modes of communication that they use in their later college years and beyond, have begun to integrate multimodal composing into the more traditional writing context. In this talk, we describe the use of multimodal texts in the Corpus and Repository of Writing (Crow), an inter-institutional, interdisciplinary project that collects texts from L2 writers of English in first year writing courses, including ways in which the L2 writers use multi-modality to understand how language changes across contexts (e.g., modes or registers), express their identities, and explore their multilingualism. We also discuss the ways in which we are documenting the multimodal elements of the student texts (e.g., images/videos/emojis) for use in corpus-based analyses. We invite discussion from participants as to alternative ways to represent multimodality and quantitatively and qualitatively analyze texts.


The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-93.

Vandommele, G., Van den Branden, K., Van Gorp, K., De Maeyer, S. (2017). In-school and out-of-school multimodal writing as an L2 writing resource for beginner learners of Dutch. Journal of Second Language Writing, 36, 23-36


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