Personal profile


Emilia Djonov specialises in language and literacy in early childhood, multiliteracies, multimodal and critical discourse analysis, social semiotics, educational linguistics and multilingualism. 

Research: Emilia’s research investigates multimodality, the use of different modes (language, visual design, gestures, 3D space and movement), media and technologies for communication and learning. This focus is at the heart of her contributions to critical multimodal discourse studies and research on young children’s multimodal literacy development, language learning and engagement with new technologies. Emilia is recognised for her theoretical and methodological innovation in extending and adapting social semiotic and systemic functional linguistic theory to the analysis of complex interactions, including those between children’s website design and navigation or between semiotic technologies (especially ubiquitous communication software) and their employment in various social practices (e.g. children’s interaction with e-games; PowerPoint-supported presentations; integration of websites and learning apps in classrooms).

Emilia is currently a chief investigator on the projects Language for Learning - MQ TaLK (Talk-Learn-Know) (ARC Discovery 2018-2023), which is investigating how the features of infants' language environment in early childhood centres support or constrain the development of learning-oriented talk, and MQ Toddler TaLK (NSW Department of Education, 2021-2023), which examines the emergence and developmental trajectories of toddlers' learning-oriented talk in the period from 21/2 to 31/2 years in the context of early childhood education settings. 

Teaching: Emilia connects disciplines and integrates research in curriculum, promotes active and reflective learning through the innovative use of digital technologies and authentic and diverse assessment tasks, and welcomes and engages reflexively with student feedback. Emilia currently convenes the following units in undergraduate and postgraduate programs offered by the School of Education:

  • ECHE8230 Language and Literacy in Early Childhood
  • EDST2120 Language and Literacy Learning in Early Childhood
  • EDST4100 Teaching English Language and Literacies in the later Primary School Years
  • EDST8208 Teaching English in the Primary School 3

Community: Emilia is an Associate Editor of the international, peer-reviewed research journal Linguistics and Education (Elsevier; Scimago Q1) and serves on the editorial boards of the international, peer-reviewed research journals Multimodal Communication (de Gruyter), Multimodality & Society (Sage), Linguistics & Education (Elsevier) and Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (Sage). She has also led the development of professional learning resources and programs for early childhood educators and library staff involved in early language and literacy initiatives. 

Research student supervision

Emilia supervises Higher Degree Research students and welcomes inquiries from potential candidates whose project interests align with her areas of specialisation. 

Principal PhD Supervisor - Current Projects

  • CreateAliza Salvador - Toys that look like me and you: A participatory action study of the potential of toys that represent impairment to promote inclusion in early childhood settings.
  • Trevor Carroll - A comparison study of interactions between similar aged peers and those between adult and child as vehicles for learning language.
  • Ting Zhou - Shared reading of wordless picture books by Chinese-Australian mothers and their preschool-aged children: Its potential to promote critical multimodal literacy and home language learning.
  • Ling Sheng - Infants’ langauge experiences in Australian and Chinese early childhood settings: A cross-cultural study.
  • Rongle Tan - Critical multimodal study of EFL and English literacy apps for preschool-aged children

Associate PhD Supervisor - Current Projects

  • Sun Jung Joo - Language ideology and the identity of young Korean heritage language learners in Sydney
  • Teguh Khaedrun - Exploring EFL Teacher Informal Learning to Teach with Digital Technologies
  • Catharina Weiss - Student beliefs about linguistic diversity: Transnational virtual exchange between an Australian and a German Year 5 Class
  • Fiona Zheng (PhD) - What do we know about Australian multilingual infants? Language environment at ECEC settings, parents’ and early childhood educators’ perspectives

Principal PhD Supervisor - Completed Projects

  • Stafford Lumsden - A Multimodal Social Semiotic Approach to the Community of Inquiry Framework: Semiotic resources, presences, and professional development for online teacher education in TESOL
  • Sompatu Vungthong (Awarded VC Commendation) - New Technologies for Teaching Children English as a Foreign Language: A Mixed-Method Study of the Design of Tablet Applications for EFL, Their Integration in Primary Classrooms in Thailand, and Teachers' Views about New Technologies and Children as EFL Learners.

Associate PhD Supervisor - Completed Projects

  • Natalie Brand - Toddlers’ talk and its role in supporting early learning in early childhood education and care  centres
  • Kunkun Zhang - Representation of Picture Books and Book Reading on Children’s Television:A Social Semiotic Study with Implications for Early Literacy Learning.

Principal Master of Research Supervisor - Completed Projects

  • Jane Athota - The influence of digital documentation apps on early childhood educators’ documentation practices: The case of Storypark’s design and its power to shape pedagogical documentation
  • Cassandra Beasley - Teacher referrals of students to speech pathologists in the first year of school
  • Trevor Carroll - Children’s peer talk in an early childhood centre as a vehicle for learning language
  • Sun Jung Joo - The multimodal construal of English as a global language in Korean EFL textbooks for primary school children
  • Tracy Redman - Early childhood educators’ training and their preparedness and ability to support the language learning of infants and toddlers


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