A Semiotic Study of Selected Images of English for Iraq Textbook

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Anmar Ahmed Kadhim, Mazin Jassim Al-Hilu


''English for Iraq'' is the name of the unified English language curriculum taught at the schools of Iraq from the primary to the preparatory stages. The students of the sixth preparatory class, like their colleagues of other levels, use two textbooks:  student and activity ones as the main textbooks to help them pass the final ministerial exam of English. What is noticed in the student's textbook is the heavy use of images to help the students better understand the requirements of the curriculum. The role of the visual images and their arrangements can be subjected to the principles of the visual- social semiotics. The principles are absorbed in Kress and Van Leeuwen (2006) model of visual-social semiotics. The model states that visual images can be embedded in three types of meanings, i.e., representational, interpersonal and compositional. The selected images use the three levels of meaning to communicate with the students and to show the values and principles of the topics of study. The images can reflect social and intellectual dimensions depending on the principles of Kress and Van Leeuwen (2006) model. On the representational level, the model operates two structures, the narrative and conceptual to discover the relation between the represented participants in the different types of images. On the interpersonal level of meaning, the model uses four basic dimensions to discover how the producer of an image makes a relation with the viewer. The dimensions are: image act and gaze, the size of frame and social distance, the horizontal angle and involvement, and the vertical angle and power. The systems of the compositional level of meaning, however, are information value, salience and frame which are used to cohere the representational and interpersonal meanings.

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