Beyond Language Classes: Semiotic Practices in PowerPoint Slideshows in Pharmaceutical English-Mediated Presentations

Author: Noura Ali Alghamdi

Keywords: CALL, social semiotics, multimodality, literacy, qualitative research


Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has attracted considerable attention lately due to our increasing reliance on technology in education. This article contributes to educational research on CALL by considering the semiotic practices that surround PowerPoint slideshows. The article examines how a year-five female undergraduate in pharmacy designs her PowerPoint slideshow to represent and communicate knowledge in an English-mediated literacy event, i.e. pharmaceutical seminar presentations. While language plays an essential role in engagement in this event, the article seeks to highlight the role that visuals and writing play in PowerPoint slideshows to help the presenter represent and communicate different aspects of meaning which reflect what she considers to be important for successful engagement in a professional presentation. The investigation is carried out through a qualitative case study, using a social account of literacy and a social semiotic multimodal approach to meaning-making. Though this investigation is not carried within a traditional language class, it is used to highlight some of the issues that can help inform language education by drawing attention to the potential benefits that lie in exploring situated practices of meaning-making in different professional and academic settings.