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Interpreting the image–language interface in multimodal texts is now well recognized as a crucial aspect of reading comprehension in a number of official school syllabi such as the recently published Australian Curriculum: English (ACE). This article outlines the relevant expected student learning outcomes in this curriculum and draws attention to the need for further research to provide a robust and comprehensive account of the nature of image–language relations to explicate these intended outcomes in a manner that will support multimodal literacy pedagogy. Recent semiotic accounts of image–language interaction are outlined and related to the results of a study showing the relative comprehension difficulty of different kinds of image–language relations. Also discussed in relation to this study are the extent to which the current Australian national assessment program in reading addresses the image–language interface and the nature of the image–language relations included in this assessment program. This research suggests that the current discrepant emphases on the image– language interface in the ACE and the national assessment program could be brought much more into alignment to generate an assessment program that more adequately addresses reading as the integrative negotiation of visual and verbal information. This could provide not only more curriculum responsive national literacy tests but could also improve tests such as the Program for International Student Assessment so that the range of image–language relations included in them more adequately reflects those encountered in school and everyday reading materials.

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Journal Article

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