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An analysis of the culture contents in senior high English textbooks used in Mainland China

English Abstract

The changing role of English as an international language (EIL) has important implications for culture teaching in the field of Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language. In particular, the present study argues that the cultural content of EFL textbooks should reflect the role of English as an international language. Through both quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the new Senior High English (SHE) textbooks published by Beijing Normal University Press widely used in senior high schools in mainland China, this study aimed to explore the conditions of cultural contents of SHE textbooks and the extent to which the cultural contents reflect the role of EIL. To achieve the objective, the research identified and analyzed the kinds of cultural contents in the target textbooks, the characteristics of every kind of the cultural contents, and the ways that they engage learners in culture learning based on the perspective of EIL. The results show that the target textbooks have come to position English as playing the role of an international language, a language not only affiliated with America or Britain but also used globally in different contexts. In specific, the textbooks under analysis encompass different world cultural materials including the source culture, target culture, international culture and universal culture. Furthermore, it is also found that the textbooks have made attempts to incorporate some intercultural activities, through which students have the opportunity to compare the differences and similarities between their self-culture and other foreign iii cultures. On the other hand, the current study is able to identify some problems concerning the culture contents in the target textbooks, showing that the conception of EIL is reflected in the target textbooks only at a superficial level. Firstly, the target textbooks treat world cultures unequally with an obvious favor for the target cultural contents (accounting for 40 percent of distribution), while seriously neglecting the international cultural contents, by assigning such contents 11 percent in total lessons,. Secondly, the target textbooks represent cultural contents mainly from a tourist perspective. For example, the controversial social issues existing in different cultural contents which may give students the opportunity to reflect and discuss their opinions, are rarely found; what’s more, cultural contents are treated as factual knowledge in the language activity section of the target textbooks, and intercultural differences concerning ways of thinking beneath the behaviors are rarely discussed.

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Li, Yi Pei


Faculty of Education




English language -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- China

Language and culture -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- China



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