Emilia Djonov

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Emilia Djonov
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  • Linguist
  • senior Lecturer at Macquarie University

Emilia Djonov is an Australian linguist and Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University [1]. She is a leading figure in the fields of applied linguistics, semiotics, multimodal discourse analysis and early language and literacy development [2]. She has a strong international reputation within the multidisciplinary area of multimodality and she has expertise in social semiotics and systemic functional linguistics. The majority of her research has helped advance the field of critical multimodal discourse analysis.


Djonov graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2000 with First Class Honours and a University Medal in German and Linguistics. She went on to complete her Doctor of PhD in Linguistics and English at the University of New South Wales in 2006 under the supervision of Dr Clare Painter, functional linguist and expert in first language development, and Associate Professor Louise Ravelli who is at the forefront of research in multimodal communication.

Djonov's first academic appointment was at the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University in 2006 as a part-time, teaching-only Lecturer. She then went on to receive her first full-time research and teaching position as lecturer in Language and Literacy Education at the University of Wollongong in 2008. In 2009, Djonov was awarded the prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of University of Technology, Sydney, working alongside Professor Theo van Leeuwen and Professor Kay O'Halloran. Their research was entitled: Towards a social theory of semiotic technology: exploring PowerPoint's design and its use in higher education and corporate settings. Djonov and van Leeuwen co-authored 11 peer-reviewed outputs from the project, including 5 journal articles.

In 2018, Djonov received the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant for a project entitled: Language for learning: developing learning-oriented talk in long-day-care. The project seeks to understand how long-day-care either supports or constraints infant-toddler early learning[3].Djonov is now Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Language and Literacy at the Institute of Early Childhood and Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University, and is Director of the Master of Education, Master of Early Childhood and Master of Educational Leadership programs at Macquarie University[4].

Djonov has been on the Editorial Board of the international, peer-reviewed research journal Multimodal Communication since its inception in 2011 [4]. She frequently reviews articles for international research journals in applied linguistics, discourse studies, and language and literacy education.

Contributions to linguistics

Djonov has major contributions converging on the fields of systemic functional linguistics, multimodality and early language learning and development.

SFL and multimodality

Djonov has contributed to extending and adapting principles from systemic functional linguistics to the analyses of complex multimodal interactions. This includes the multimodal interactions between children's website design and navigation, and children's interactions with e-games. In her PhD thesis, Djonov developed tools for the analysis of the interaction between website design and navigation. The tools were based on and tested using children’s websites and navigation as a case study characterised with complex multimodal composition and multiliteracies demands, and have been adopted internationally in studies of websites in various domains including higher education, medicine, tourism and government. More recently, Djonov has worked with various researchers to analyse the interactions between the design of softwares such as PowerPoint and their use for communication in diverse settings.

Early language learning and development

Many of Djonov's recent contributions to linguistic focus on early language learning and development. Djonov, alongside Kunkun Zhang and Jane Torr were the first to examine how picture books are represented when read on television shows for young children . They demonstrated that there was little opportunity for children " to play an active role in the unfolding narrative, to pause, explore pictures, ask and respond to questions, and make connections between the meanings construed in literature and their own lives" which they normally would do when reading with an adult . In 2014, Djonov received a research partnership grant with the State Library of NSW where she transcribed and analysed multimodal data of interactions between babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their families. The results of her analysis are currently informing the development of a context-sensitive framework for evaluating and improving the early literacy programs in NSW public libraries . In addition to her academic contributions in the field of early language learning and development, Djonov has also been interviewed on early literacy and new technologies for two newspapers, the The Sydney Morning Herald|Sydney Morning Herald and the The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)|Daily Telegraph where she highlights the importance of parents reading printed books with their children for literacy development [5][6]. Djonov has also written a column for the parenting forum Kidspot where she provides tips to help parents encourage their children to read [7].

In the media


  1. "Advancing Multimodal and Critical Discourse Studies: Interdisciplinary Research Inspired by Theo Van Leeuwen's Social Semiotics". Routledge & CRC Press. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  2. "Emilia Djonov". Macquarie University. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  3. "Language for learning: Developing learning-oriented talk in long-day-care (MQ TaLK!)". Macquarie University. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Emilia Djonov". Macquarie University. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  5. "Story books vital for kids' reading". www.dailytelegraph.com.au. 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  6. Stark, Jill (2013-11-09). "Technology no substitute for reading time: Mem Fox". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  7. Rogers-Anderson, Sabrina. "7 ways to turn reluctant readers into book lovers". www.kidspot.com.au. Retrieved 2020-09-08.

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