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Xiao Tan

Lecturer of Thompson Writing Program
Thompson Writing Program
Thompson Writing Program, Box 90025, Durham, NC 27708
Thompson Writing Program, Box 90025, Durham, NC 27708
Office hours Monday & Friday 10 am -12 pm  

Selected Presentations & Appearances


Multimodal Composing as a Learning Activity in Second Language Classrooms: Processes, Products, and Pedagogical Practices - Symposium on Second Langauge Writing · October 26, 2023 - October 28, 2023 Invited Talk

Multimodal composing, or the act of producing texts by integrating multiple semiotic resources, has received increasing attention in L2 teaching and research. Informed by a broader view of literacy, writing teachers have designed various activities to engage L2 students in the consumption, interpretation, and production of multimodal texts. Despite the growing interest, “multimodal writing” is often positioned in opposition to the traditional text-based writing practices that seem to dominate academic communication, thus raising concerns among teachers about its appropriateness in the academic context.

In this presentation, I will draw on the insights from a series of studies I have conducted to show that multimodal writing can and need to be configured in various ways to support students’ academic development. I will begin by reviewing the approaches to multimodal composition in L2 writing classrooms, showcasing a wide array of assignment designs and scaffolding procedures. I will then zoom in on students’ processes of completing a video proposal assignment in a naturalistic setting. In particular, I want to share observations of students employing problem-solving skills, negotiating language use, and mobilizing in- and out-of-school literacy experience during the process. The research-based nature of the video assignment also challenged students to think about “source citation” creatively and strategically. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of how multimodal composing can be integrated effectively into the L2 writing classrooms.