Language portraits going digital and multimodal: deciphering the translanguaging space and linguistic repertoires among multilinguals

Siqing Mu, Lili Han, Zhisheng Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, language portraits (LPs) have emerged as a valuable tool for visually representing multilingual learners’ linguistic repertoires. However, previous studies have primarily relied on traditional methods of inviting participants to sketch their language portraits on paper using pens and crayons. In this paper, we propose the use of digital methods to collect and analyze data on language portraits to examine the translingual practices and negotiations of meaning among multilingual individuals. By utilizing Synchronic Computer-Mediated Communication platforms, participants can actively deploy and mobilize multi-linguistic and multi-semiotic resources in lived experiences, engaging in interactive translanguaging practices. In this particular case study, data were collected through a biographic survey and a sketch of the language portraits in digital form, which were then further supported by follow-up interviews. Four participants’ LPs and oral narratives during the interviews were then subjected to qualitative multimodal analysis and discourse analysis. The results revealed that these digital language portraits (DLPs) possess significant features such as digital affordance and multimodality. They tap into the translanguaging spaces that emerge from the creative and critical meaning-making process, enabling multilingual individuals to visualize their linguistic repertoires through digital visual strategies. Furthermore, it was discovered that DLPs can foster creative performance and discursive negotiations, thereby enhancing participants’ expressive abilities in developing their language perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage and Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Digital affordance
  • emotion
  • language portraits
  • linguistic repertoires
  • multimodality
  • translanguaging space


Dive into the research topics of 'Language portraits going digital and multimodal: deciphering the translanguaging space and linguistic repertoires among multilinguals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this