Open science, an approach based on making research available and understandable to everyone, is currently attracting considerable attention. Online genres are a well-accepted means of democratizing science and spreading scientific research to reach the widest audience (Luzón & Pérez-Llantada, 2019). This paper explores one of these genres devoted to laypeople: FameLab presentations. These are online 3-minute talks on scientific and/or technological subjects which are part of an international competition. One aim of these talks is to engage the audience, and this strategy can be developed by both different language resources (Hyland & Zou, 2021), and multimodal ones (Fortanet-Gómez & Ruiz-Madrid, 2016; Luzón, 2019).
Our study focuses on analyzing how questions are used as an engagement device to attract the audience’s attention, and how they are complemented by multimodal features. Our dataset includes 20 FameLab presentations from the 2020 (10) and 2021 (10) editions, when they became live-stream, pre-recorded events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike the traditional dynamics, when they were delivered as in-person live events. Following prior research (e.g., Thompson, 1998), we identified the questions appearing in our dataset, and found similar results to previous findings in comparable genres. We then conducted a multimodal analysis to determine common features among speakers. The results show the need to consider certain non-verbal features which accompany questions, supporting and emphasizing their engagement function. Our research may help understand how multimodal discursive practices are used to explain science, and how they can be transferred to the classroom of Languages for Specific Purposes.
Copyright (c) 2023 Miguel Ruiz Garrido, Juan Carlos Palmer-Silveira
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