Language Education Policy Studies
An International Network


Semiotics and Language Education Policy 

Theme 2

Language Education Policy & Discourse Analysis

1:00pm – Introduction: What We Learned from Visual Semiotics regarding Language Education Policies

François V. Tochon, University of Wisconsin, & Qi Shen Tongji University, Shanghai


1:15pm - Chinese Literature Education in the Global Discourse System

Meng CHEN, Tongji University, Shanghai (

The globalization process is accelerating. Participating in the construction of the global discourse system has become an important task for China. The construction of the global discourse system is inseparable from the support of literature discourse. The construction of Chinese literature discourse mainly relies on Chinese literature education. As an important part of national education, literature education has always assumed the task of cultivating aesthetic consciousness and moral education. However, in the global discourse system, Chinese literature education should get rid of the paradigm and pay attention to the cultivation of Chinese literature discourse. The goal of literature education should not rest on the cultivation of standardized knowledge accumulation and normalized literature aesthetic consciousness, but on the output of creative literary discourse. This requires the need to re-examine the meaning of literature itself in literature education. Returning to the literary works themselves, we should clarify that the un-concealedness function of literature plays an important role in people's understanding of themselves and the world. The study of literary theory in literature education should be combined with critical writing to continuously enhance the vitality of Chinese literature theory. In addition, the cultivation of the ability of creative writing is the basis of the output of literary discourse. In this way, we can clearly define our position in the constant cultural conflict, communication and integration, and provide better support for China to participate in the construction of a global discourse system.

1:30pm - Nation Branding Through Commodification of Multilingualism in Neoliberal Kazakhstan

Madina Djuraeva, University of Wisconsin-Madison (

Challenging the notion of language commodification, Block (2017) proposes the concept of branding—a contextualized and a purposeful use of language to create a particular type of person as a valued product. Graan (2016) defines nation-branding projects as a form of governance that transform citizenship. In this paper, I argue that the concept of branding helps us move beyond language as a valued product to a multilingual person as a valued citizen. I support this argument by showing how nationally branded multilingualism of Kazakhstan is taken up and internalized in the narratives of university students in the country. Narrative inquiry (Clandinin, 2013) is employed to analyze over 30 hours of semi-structured interviews with students in internationalized educational contexts in Kazakhstan to demonstrate how multilingual students construct their language education trajectories vis-à-vis global and national events. The analysis shows that within their narratives of the past, participants discuss language in terms of capital, specifically describing how each language they learned offered its speakers specific affordances. On the other hand, in narrating their present experiences at the university, participants no longer make such distinctions, rather they perceive their whole linguistic repertoire to be a globally valued skill. Moreover, they regard their multilingual linguistic repertoire as a trait of a nationally valued citizen, which resonates with the state’s discourse on promoting and developing its societal multilingualism. This study extends the conversation around language commodification to nation branding through commodification of multi-lingualism. It also adds a valuable perspective on how ethnic minorities in Kazakhstan internalize the national politics of language and position themselves as valued citizens through utilizing their linguistic repertoires. The study further highlights the role of an internationalized educational space in shaping students’ attitudes toward their linguistic repertoire and language learning choices.  

1:45pm - A Comparative Analysis of Reported Speech on Sino-US Trade War

Jingjing FANG, Tongji University, Shanghai ( 

News discourse, which seems to transmit information to the public objectively and impartially, actually expresses various ideologies implicitly, and such ideology is mostly conveyed through reported speeches. Sino-US trade war has attracted much attention from many countries around the world since the beginning of last year. Based on the comment(opinion) news reports on the Sino-US trade war in China and the US, this paper takes China Daily and New York Times as examples to analyze the similarities and differences in their reports on the Sino-US trade wars between the two mainstream medias of China and the US from the way of reporting modes,reporting verbs and news sources. It is expected that the paper will reveal the ideology hidden in the report news and discover the ways of reporting news discourse from which Chinese medias can learn, so that Chinese medias will improve their reporting methods and their ways of communicating with other countries and enhance China’s discourse power in the international community.

2:00pm - Bride-wealth Discourses and Practices and their Semiotic Meaning

Serah Kivuti, University of Wisconsin-Madison (

Payment of bride-wealth is one of the major contributors of objectification of women in many contemporary African societies. This paper proposes a study on the meaning of bride-wealth payment, a cultural practice among the Kikuyus of Kenya. It is a proposed study of factors that influence the process through which the meaning of bride-wealth is (re)constructed within this cultural system. I argue that the traditional collective perception of bride-wealth is shifting and that various factors have played a role to facilitate this shift. Viewing bride-wealth as a semiotic object of interpretation, I will use narrative inquiry to get answers to the following questions: What are the possible social-cultural factors responsible for the change in the signification of bride-wealth? What is the position of the bride in this concept’s meaning-making process? What are the implications of this shift to the society? This study sheds some light on how modernity shapes semiotic meaning through new discourses and practices and builds the signification of cultural norms. 

2:15pm - Language Education Policy in Nigeria: A Critical Discourse Perspective

Adeola Agoke, University of Wisconsin-Madison (

In many linguistically diverse nations, there is less attention to how semiotics affordance informs the composition and implementation of nation’s educational language policy. Focusing on the multilingual context of southwestern Nigeria, my paper draws theoretical insight from critical discourse analysis and critical applied linguistics (Fairclough, 1992; Blommaert, 2001) to explore the nuances of power and ideological constructs embedded in the Nigerian educational language policy and its attendant influence on practices of language use in educational contexts. Using the ethnographic data I collected in a high school I call Topmost Universal College, I examine practices of language use within and outside of the Yoruba language classroom to affirm the school’s implementation of Nigeria’s national educational policies—those contained in the 1999 constitution and in the National Policy on Education (NPE). I provide a background to these policies and analyze the role of language in education in light of my conversations with students, Yoruba-language instructors, and school administrators. I unpack the policy documents to see how Topmost Universal College adapts the nation’s education policies for pedagogical and linguistic purposes and its implication for the teachers and learners of Yoruba. I argue that multiple language policies—official and unofficial—exist within the school because of the semiotic composition of the policy document. Although, these policies are not mutually exclusive, they consist of fragments of the broader sociolinguistic and political structure of the nation including other local policies created within the school. The interaction of these policies impacts the linguistic practices of the learners and instructors’ as they draw on multiple semiotic registers to match the expectations of the policies.

2:30pm - Gay Men in Egypt: Language and Identity. A Critical Discourse Analysis of Language Using Facebook Pages
Salah Algabli, University of Wisconsin-Madison (

Gay men in Egypt are sanctioned by the force of law, religion and traditions. Egyptian law considers homosexuality to be immoral and, in many cases, gay men were sentenced to jail when caught practicing their non-heterosexual desires or announcing publicly their sexual orientations. The absence of any sort of freedom and rights to talk about homosexuality in general in public spaces force gay men in Egypt to use other sources that are less censored to express their desires and sexual identity. I investigated in this research the language gay men in Egypt use in Facebook to reveal their identity and whether it has various characteristics that cannot be found in language used in other contexts. The data was collected from a Facebook page interested in Egyptian gay men issues. Data analysis reveals two important facts about gay men in Egypt that are compatible with reviewed literature. The first one is that gay men and non-heterosexual people resort to secrecy and social network as a way to express their oppressed desire through using language in a particular way. The second one is that this language is different from one gay man to another which makes it difficult to talk about the existence of gay language.

2:45pm - Curriculum Development in Multilingual Societies: The Example of Luxembourg

Sabrina Sattler, Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing, University of Luxembourg (

I will tackle the question how curriculum planning and linguistic identity conceptions are entangled in Luxembourg against the backdrop of its multilingual setting. Of interest here is the historical question, which ideas of a constructed linguistic identity were dominant before and after the recent primary education reform of 2009 which represents the case study in my dissertation. I am looking at the hidden versions of the language curriculum and how it fabricates a certain and also different kind of speaker(s) and therefore citizen. Hence, I would like to take the chance to discuss my methodology and to present recent findings and patterns of ideas on the basis of my sources and empirical data (expert interviews). The presentation will show that Luxembourg, as a kind of laboratory because of developing processes of globalization and migration, is relevant to other multilingual contexts in general and curricular development in particular.

3:00pm - Soliciting Students’ Participation in DaF Classroom Interactions

A EMCA-informed Multimodal Analytic Approach

Fuxin ZHANG, Tongji University, Shanghai (

This study is a naturalistic exploration of interactional practices that L2 teachers mobilize to solicit students’ participation in L2 classroom activities, based on a fine-grained analysis of the multimodal, micro-interactions that transpire therein. Using ethnomethodological and conversation analytic multimodal analysis (EMCA-informed multimodal analysis) as a major approach, it’s my basic assumption that classroom activities are intersubjectively accomplished, moment by moment, in and through micro-practices of talk-and-other-conduct-in-interaction within the L2 classroom ecology. The data set is based on video-recordings of natural interactions that occur in DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache/German as Foreign Language) from a university in China. The preliminary findings reveal a range of communicative resources, or ethnomethods (Garfinkel 1967), that L2 teacher deploy to attract, solicit, and mobilize the students’ attention to and involvement with the teaching task at hand, which include (1) verbal practices: asking questions, question modification or repetition, “question-battery” (Klemm 1996) and incomplete words or sentences; (2) prosodic features: tone rising, accentuation, pause and syllable stretching; (3) embodied resources, for instance the devotion of glance, gestural hint, hand raising, postural shift, proxemic approaching, and (4) the teacher’s gestural, tactile, proxemic incorporation of teaching objects (.i.e. blackboard) within reach in the material environment of the classroom. The pedagogical significance of this research is mainly descriptive: it renders a deeper understanding of micro-interactional dynamics between teacher and students in L2 classroom, which in turn, can serve as a springboard for assessing and designing effective teaching strategies and techniques in L2 teaching in the “post-methods-era” (Brown 2007).

3:15pm - Eugenics, Race, and Nation-Making: A Semiotic Discourse Analysis of Chinese Identity in English Education 

Yuting Lan, University of Wisconsin-Madison (

The purposes of this article is to illuminate the hierarchical genealogy of language education policies and practices in China, to demonstrate how deficit discourses continue today. Discourse Analysis (CDA) provides personal examples from the field of how educators can begin to question the status quo, resist taken-for-granted assumptions, and alternatively make substantive changes. I also aim to demonstrate how English education is an example of whiteness as property, or unearned white privilege, that, unintentionally or not, maintains a social caste system in English education in China.

3:30pm - Promoting Language Learning and Immersion within Study Abroad and Study Away: A Case Study Analysis

Dakota Flohaug, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Today, American undergraduate students study abroad more than any other period in history. With the rapid incline of study abroad programs and study away opportunities, programs and organizations compete with intriguing marketing tactics, marketing many opportunities as “vacation” or “leisure” studies unintentionally. Within study abroad, majority of those who travel away tend to study in a country where English is predominantly spoken or understood (United Kingdom, France, Australia being the top 3). My focus on this presentation will be to critically analyze multiple study abroad programs within UW-Madison that provide language immersion and the student satisfaction of their experience. I will also analyze interviews with students who have engaged in these language immersion programs and those who did not, and compare and contrast their employment after graduation experiences and the impact their study abroad endeavor had on their employment qualifications. 

3:45pm - China’s National Image in International DocumentaryA Discourse Analysis of Tales from Modern China

Yi ZHANG, Tongji University, Shanghai ( 

This paper conducts a discourse analysis of the construction of China’s national image in one international documentary: Tales from Modern China, which is co-produced by JSBC and Lion TV. A total number of 14705 words of subtitles were examined under the appraisal system (Martin & White, 2005). By combining quantitative and qualitative analyses, the findings show that a strong, civilized, beautiful China is constructed in general and China is developing and faces challenges. As to language strategies, evaluation at lexical, semantic and metaphorical levels is used to realize positive evaluation. This paper confirms that China’s positive endeavor to construct its national image in mass communication is conducive to the building and improving of national image. Cooperation with international media and integration into the world discourse system helps to improve the international discourse power.

World Language Education Policies

Francois Victor Tochon, PhD

President, INLEPs

Chief Editor, Deep Education Press 
Professor, Curriculum and Instruction & French & Italian

University of Wisconsin Madison

This review essay, written within an interdisciplinary perspective, argues for multilingual proficiency as a goal of and a forthcoming trend in peace education. Multilingual proficiency should be one of the strategic goals of peace education.  This overview of the field explores one possible imaginary for the future. The stakes of peace and globalization are addressed from a school policy perspective, exploring: (a) the role of language diversity in reaching peaceful, world citizenship; (b) bilingualism and how it is linked to the ability to bring peace; (c) the role of English and other lingua francas; (d) the connection between language education and peace. The framework for this study is Critical Systems Theory. It stimulates reflection to enable participation in and contribution to the development of civil society, raises questions related to motivation, power, knowledge and legitimization, and targets the revival of civil society. The literature reviewed points at how the issues discussed can be resolved to increase crosscultural understanding.


Presenter: Dr. François Victor Tochon is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he heads Graduate Studies in World Language Education. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics/Curriculum & Instruction (Université Laval) and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Ottawa University), and received the equivalent of Honorary Doctorates from two universities in Argentina and Peru. Prof. Tochon worked on intercultural issues related to bilingualism in various countries and international language education policies. He received an award from the U.S. Department of Education to create, research and evaluate a “Deep Approach” to foreign language curricula that would respect a pluralistic and federative view of language education policies. It allowed him to format an interface between language policies and classroom curricula and practices. With 25 books and some 150 articles and book chapters to his credit, Prof. Tochon has also been Visiting Professor in several universities. He is currently published in 8 languages. Among his books are: The Foreign Self: Truth Telling as Educational Inquiry; Tropics of Teaching; Educational Semiotics. His article “The Key To Global Understanding” published in the Review of Educational Research (79/2) received the 2010 Award of Best Review of Research from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  Since 2012, he is a collaborator in the Campus of Excellence of the University of Granada, Spain.                      

The Key to Regional Peace and Prosperity: a Comparative Study of Foreign Language Education Policy in East Asia



China Research Center for Foreign Language Strategies (RCFLS)

Shanghai International Studies University

Foreign Languages Education (FLE) has long been an integral part in the national education system in most countries in the world and plays a key role in the development of a nation and its society. East Asia formerly achieved brilliant glories of Oriental civilization and now is in the pursuit for regional peace and prosperity. FLE in East Asian countries has been playing an even greater part in the context of globalization. This paper, based on a detailed, organic and comparative perspective on the development of FLE policies, tries to reveal the interconnected and historical relationship between FLE policies and the harmonious, economic and educational development in China, Japan and South Korea. First, the paper starts with the analysis of the evolvement and trend of international FLE policies and the development of East Asia in the context of globalization and focuses on the connection among globalization, East Asia development and innovations of FLE policies. Next, a three-fold framework for analysis would be proposed to conduct an organic analysis of FLE policies in case studies of Japan, South Korea and China respectively, by looking at the historical development, current situation and innovations in the context of globalization of FLE policies. The above endeavor tries to explore the whole process and present a tentative links and limitations between FLE and regional peace and prosperity. 


Presenter: Professor SHEN Qi, Ph. D in Comparative Education, Med in TESOL, BA in English language and literature, Deputy Director of China Research Center for Foreign Language Strategies (RCFLS), and research fellow in Institute of Linguistic Studies, Shanghai International Studies University. Dr. Shen’s major research interests include language policy and language planning, Language Education Policy and Educational Linguistics. He has published one monograph in Chinese and more than 40 journal papers at home and abroad. Currently, he is the principal investigator of 5 projects, concerning studies in national language competence, language education policy and linguistic security.    

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