Treading Semiotic Paths in Multilingual Literacy Learning: Challenging Ideological Conceptualizations of Language and Literacy in Education

  • Helle Pia LaursenEmail author
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 39)


Informed by a view of language and literacy learning as social semiosis, the chapter argues that there is a need for a deconstruction of ideological conceptualizations of language and literacy and a reconceptualization of the relationship between language and literacy that reflect the complexity of children’s linguistic and semiotic repertoires and their engagement in language and literacy as meaning making. The findings from Signs of Language, which frames this article, have shown that, when given the opportunity, multilingual students find and create paths across languages and modes in their literacy practices and in learning to read and write in a language new to them. However, these findings have also demonstrated that multilingual students’ perceptions of their own proficiency and future opportunities are strongly influenced by the growing tendency to use literacy skills to regulate education through outcome metrics and the growing perception of literacy as a set of measurable skills that can only be measured in a specific language. Based on these findings, this chapter calls for greater research attention to be devoted to emic perspectives that transcend universalistic conceptions of literacy as well as fragmented understandings of semiotic meaning making.


Social semiotics Meaning making Linguistically diverse classrooms Models of multilingualism Perceived proficiency 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Danish School of Education (DPU), Aarhus UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

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