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Globality in the global textbook: principles and applicability


par Mimoun Melliti
Faculté des lettres, arts, et humanité Manouba - Master en Anglais 2010
Dans la categorie: Arts, Philosophie et Sociologie > Littérature
   
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Ministry of Higher Education Scientific Research and Technology
University of Manouba
Faculty of Letters, Arts and Humanities
Department of English

«Globality» in the Global Textbook:

Principles and Applicability

Thesis Submitted for Partial Fulfillment of Master Degree

Prepared by
Mimoun Melliti

Supervised by
Dr. Faiza Derbel

September 2010

Abstract

This study aims at exploring the issue of «globality» in global coursebooks as manifested in investing features of connectedness, avoiding inappropriacy, and preserving inclusivity. In order to do this exploration, two research methods, content analysis and the questionnaire, were adopted. The content of an example of global coursebooks, Headway Intermediate (Soars & Soars, 2003), in addition to the perception of 251 of its users at Bourguiba Institute for Living Languages in Tunis (IBLV), were investigated. The results obtained revealed that «globality», in terms of connectedness, inappropriacy, and inclusivity is partial in Headway Intermediate (Soars & Soars, 2003) as learners' perceptions of it do not map with the content in the coursebook. This study raises questions about the suitability of global coursebooks to globally diverse learners and reveals the necessity of taking measures in the direction of localising the content of EFL coursebooks.

Acknowledgments

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the following people without whom this work would not have been completed.

First, I would like to sincerely thank my supervisor Dr. Faiza Derbel for her endless support throughout all the stages of working on the thesis.

Second, I am grateful to my mother Habiba, my father Youssef, my brother Wahid, all my sisters, and my fiancé Besma Msekni for their confidence, patience, and support.

Third, I would like to thank Dr. Michael Fennell from Jenin University for reading and commenting on a preliminary version of this thesis. His comments have been very illuminating.

Fourth, I am thankful to my colleagues Nizar ben Ali and Houcem Jouini for their assistance with collecting the questionnaires.

Finally, I am indebted to 3rd year students, teachers, and the administrative staff at IBLV in Tunis for their cooperation, especially Mrs. Hayet Toukebri, for facilitating access to the participants.

Table of contents

Abstract i

Acknowledgments ii

Table of contents iii

List of acronyms and abbreviations viii

List of tables ix

List of figures x

Chapter One: Introduction

.1

1.1 Background to the study

1

1.2. Terminology

7

1.2.1. The global coursebook

.7

1.2.2. «Globality»

7

1.2.3. Inclusivity

8

1.2.4. Inappropriacy

8

1.2.5. Connectedness

8

1.3. Research aims

.9

1.4. Research questions

.9

1.5. Methodology

10

1.6. Organisation of the thesis

11

Conclusion

12

Chapter Two: Literature Review .13

2.0. Introduction 13

2.1. Evolution of English textbooks 13

2.1.1. Early textbooks of English: 1530-1870 13

2.1.2. Early 20th century English textbooks 16

2.1.3. Global coursebooks 17

2.1.3.1. A globalised content . 19

2.1.3.2. Defining connectedness 20

2.1.3.3. Connectedness in coursebooks .21

2.2. The value attached to ELT coursebooks 23

2.2.1. The advantages of coursebooks .24

2.2.2. The disadvantages of coursebooks 27

2.3. Culture in the global coursebook 33

2.3.1. Defining culture 33

2.3.2. Cultural appropriacy .34

2.3.2.1. Defining inappropriacy 35

2.3.2.2. On avoiding inappropriacy in global coursebooks 36

2.3.3. Investing target language culture in ELT coursebooks . ..37

2.4. The issue of representation in ELT textbooks 42

2.4.1. Defining «inclusivity» .......44

2.4.2. Explanations of inclusivity 44

2.4.2.1. Objective explanations ...44

2.4.2.2. Ideological explanations 45

2.4.3. Attempts of preserving inclusivity 48

2.4.4. Unresolved issues 51

Conclusion 53

Chapter Three: Methodology of the study

. 55

3.0. Introduction

55

3.1. Organisation of the study

.55

3.2. Research methods

56

3.2.1. The quantitative / qualitative debate

..56

3.2.2. The content analysis

..57

3.2.3. The questionnaire

60

3.3. Methodology of content analysis .

61

3.3.1. Procedures of analysing the content

. 61

3.3.2. Data handling

67

3.4. Questionnaire used in the study

68

3.4.1. Description of the questionnaire

68

3.4.2. The participants

71

3.4.3. Data collection

72

3.4.4. Data handling

73

Conclusion

74

Chapter Four: Discussion of findings of content analysis ..

75

4.0. Introduction

.75

4.1. The limits of inclusivity in representation .......

75

4.1.1. On gender balance ....

75

4.1.2. On racial balance ...

81

4.2. The global coursebook and cultural inappropriacy

89

4.2.1. Controversial topics avoided ....

89

4.2.2. Controversial topics treated with caution ..91

4.2.3. Controversial topics mentioned .92

4.3. The global coursebook and global connectedness 99

4.3.1. Leisure activities 99

4.3.2. The language issue . 103

4.3.3. Global connectivity 105

Conclusion 106

Chapter Five: Analysis and discussion of questionnaire data

.108

5.0. Introduction

108

5.1. Learners' perception of connectedness

108

5.1.1. Learners' perception of topics

108

5.1.2. Learners' perception of language varieties

111

5.1.3. Perception of the coursebook's connectedness potential

112

5.2. Learners' perception of inappropriacy

114

5.2.1. Appropriate issues for learners

116

5.2.2. Inappropriate issues for learners .

119

5.3. Learners' perception of inclusivity

122

5.3.1. Cultural inclusivity

..122

5.3.1.1. `High' cultures

123

5.3.1.2. `Low' cultures

125

5.3.2. The inclusivity of learners' individual lives

126

5.3.2.1. High closeness

.128

5.3.2.2. Medium closeness

129

5.3.2.3. Low closeness

Conclusion

Chapter Six: Conclusion

130

.132

. 134

6.0. Introduction

134

6.1. Major findings

134

6.2. Contribution of the study

135

6.3. Limitations of the study

136

6.4. Suggestions for further research

.136

6.5. Recommendations

...137

References

Appendix A: Questionnaire for learners

 
 
 

139

149

 

Appendix

B:

The

women

number,

the

roles,

and

the

topics

..

related

150

to

Appendix

C:

The
men

number,

the

roles

and

the

.

topics

related

151

to

Appendix

D:

The

Whites

number,

the

roles,

and

the

topics

related

152

to

Appendix

E:

The

number,

the

roles,

and

the

topics

related

to

 

Blacks .....153

Appendix F: The number, the roles, and the topics related to the Asians ....154

Appendix G: The numbers, the roles, and the topics related to diverse

characters ..155

Appendix H: Controversial topics in the coursebook 156

List of acronyms and abbreviations

B: Baccalaureate

BE: Business English

EFL: English as a Foreign Language ELT: English Language Teaching ESL: English as a Second Language ET: English for tourism

FL : Foreign Language

GE: General English

H/I: Headway Intermediate (Soars & Soars, 2003)

I.B.L.V: Bourguiba Institute of Living Languages

L : Licence

L1 culture: First Language culture

L2 culture: Second Language culture M: Maitrise

OMR: Out of marriage relationships O: Other

PARSNIP: politics, Alcohol, Religion, Sex, Narcotics, Isms, and Pork SE: Scientific English

List of Tables

Table 1: Numbers of new textbooks, by phase and skill, 1530-1870 (Michael, 1993, p.

6)

14

Table 2: A sample of inclusivity tables

65

Table 3: Table devised to explore inappropriacy

66

Table 4: Background information of the participants

.71

Table 5: Referring items related to spiritual beverages in each unit of the coursebook

92

Table 6: Leisure activities and their frequency in each unit of the coursebook...

100

Table 7: Publishers' success with handling inappropriacy

121

List of figures

Figure 1: Research flowchart

55

Figure 2: Themes and methodology for coding content

.63

Figure 3: Presence of women across units

76

Figure 4: Presence of men across units .

.78

Figure 5: Representation of racial minorities

.81

Figure 6: The presence of the Whites across the units

82

Figure 7: The presence of the Blacks across the units

.84

Figure 8: The presence of the Asians across the units

85

Figure 9: Frequency of mention of leisure activities in the coursebook

101

Figure 10: Distribution of global settings in the coursebook

105

Figure 11: Participants' perception of what should be the kind of content in the coursebook

109

Figure 12: Respondents' perception of specificity of topics in H/I

110

Figure 13: Preferred language varieties for the respondents

.111

Figure 14: Respondents' perception of the value of H/I

113

Figure 15: Respondents' perception of mentioning inappropriate issues in H/I

115

Figure 16: Participants' opinion regarding mentioning inappropriate issues in H/I..116

Figure 17: Respondents' perception of cultures in H/I

123

Figure 18: Closeness of the content of H/I to learners' situations

.126

Figure 19: Reported closeness of the content of H/I to learners

127

Chapter One: Introduction

The purpose of this introductory chapter is to provide background to the topic of this study. It will explain the background and theoretical framework of the study before defining the key terms. Moreover, it will shed light on the general aims of the research and the research questions. Finally, this chapter will provide information concerning the methodology used before clarifying the way the thesis is organised.

1.1 Background to the study

This thesis will explore the extent to which an example of global coursebooks (i.e. coursebooks produced to be disseminated around the world) are `global' in terms of being globally inclusive, globally sensitive to the issue of inappropriacy, and globally investing in what connects people worldwide. This thesis will also explore the way learners using Headway Intermediate (Soars & Soars, 2003) perceive its global content.

As outlined above, themes mentioned in previous research will be explored such as «inclusivity», «inappropriacy» (Gray, 2002), and «connectedness» (Chang, 2003). To do so, this study will review the issues of globalisation and language teaching especially as manifested in connectedness, the question of representation and the implications of inclusivity, and the issue of inappropriacy and the problematic facts related to it.

It is secret to no one that the spread of English language in the world has resulted in the promotion of an already important industry for Anglophone countries and specifically Britain (Howatt, 1984), which is ELT (Graddol, 2000; Gray, 2002; Crystal, 2003; Derbel, 2004). Apart from the exportation of English language practitioners (Phillipson, 1992; Pennycook, 1994) to Outer and especially Expanding Circles (Kachru, 1985), Britain benefited from the exportation of English textbooks (Graddol, 2000; Gray, 2002). Being used in many teaching

situations around the globe, English language textbooks have been called «global» (Graddol, 2000; Gray, 2002).

Global coursebooks are characterised by their global use (Canagarajah, 1999; Graddol, 2000; Gray, 2002). Accordingly, they are worth investigating in terms of content as well as learners' perception of their content. Analysing the content of coursebooks, research studies could focus on the linguistic and cultural content (Michael, 1993). Additionally, investigating learners' perception of global coursebooks, the results of a questionnaire can be corroborated.

What is meant by the term «globality» is the end state of the process of the globalisation of a particular item (Schafer, 2007). Hence, the «globality» of ELT coursebooks is the end state of the globalisation of these teaching materials not only in terms of themes but also in terms of distribution. With reference to the «globality» that is said to be characterising global coursebooks in terms of content (Riches, 1999; Gray, 2002) and use (Phillipson, 1992; Graddol, 2000), it is important to investigate the applicability of the generalised cultural content in these teaching materials (Kilickaya, 2004a; Gray, 2002).

Generalised cultural content is related to coursebook writers' attempt to invest in general topics that take into consideration including and being sensitive to international audiences, which results in the sanitisation of content (Gray, 2002). Investigating the suitability of content for world audiences is important because globalisation, which is defined as the mutual social exchange of influence between remote events and ideologies (Giddens, 1990; Derbel & Richards, 2007), affects coursebooks' production and use (Gray, 2002). Investigating this suitability is what is meant by exploring the «globality» of the global coursebook.

This study is conducted in the 21st century, where one hears a lot about globalisation, which is «a fashionable term» (p. 1) according to Block & Cameron (2002) and a theme that dominates contemporary discourse and affects the teaching profession according to Derbel & Richards (2007) including the production and dissemination of ELT textbooks.

In fact, globalisation, being a force that is continuously shaping and reshaping human relationships and products (Giddens, 1990), affects English language teaching in different ways (Derbel & Richards, 2007). Kubota (2002), for example, describes the way globalisation frames ELT in Japan representing the discourse of `Kokusaika' (i.e. internationalisation) characterising teaching, contributing, thus, in the promotion of the `interconnectedness' marking ELT (Derbel & Richards, 2007). The discourse of `Kokusaika' (Kubota, 2002) could be seen as an attempt towards the end state of globalisation, which is «globality». For the Japanese, the discourse of `Kukusaika' meant the use of a global medium, which is English, to transmit Japanese culture to the world (ibid).

Additionally, Cameron (2002) stresses the fact that globalisation influences ELT through framing the kind of communication used by global users, which is most of the time related to the dominant's varieties and modes of communication. Accordingly, Kramsch and Thorne (2002), defining communication as information exchange, highlight the fact that this kind of communication is manifested in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories, methods, and tasks. Such methods and tasks, according to Block (2002) are not sufficient to cater for the globally diverse aspects of English language learning. what is meant by this is that modes of communication are not the same all over the world while SLA theories assume they are so (ibid).

Globalisation influences also the materials used in ELT (Block & Cameron, 2002). For instance, Gray (2002) attests that this influence is manifested in the claims of «globality» that

the publishers of global coursebooks claim in order to maximise profit. He suggests that, concerning the relationship between globalisation and ELT materials, the future will be for diversity of these materials not homogeneity. This prediction entails that the global coursebook will more and more tend to be glocalised by producing coursebooks that meet the needs of local users while preserving their connection with the world (Gray, 2002).

In this context, the notion of connectedness manifested in what the publishers that Gray (2002) interviewed call constructing bridges between what is local and what is global, is noticeable in the idea of «glocalisation, [being] a neologism which attempts to capture something of the complexity inherent in globalisation by conflating the terms global and local» (p. 166, italics in original). What Gray (2002) means by this suggestion is the inclusion of local topics, aspirations, and concerns in the content of coursebooks in order to motivate the users and avoid possible resistance. One might add that this that such possible resistance does not only concern the learners but also the teachers, as clarified by Canagarajah (1999) and Gray (2002) respectively. While Canagarajah (1999) argues that resistance can be manifested in learners' distortion of their coursebooks, Gray (2002) provided evidence that some teachers are not satisfied with the kind of content that global coursebooks communicate.

Different ELT theorists have considered coursebooks of paramount importance (Hutchinson and Torres, 1994; Tomlinson, 2001) while others have warned that coursebooks are not suitable (Allwright, 1982; Rinvolucri, 1999). Whether a coursebook is `good' or `bad' depends on the angle from which one looks at it and the kind of content existing in the coursebook. Hence, what is important is that evaluating coursebooks is a necessity. For example, Nunan (1991) claimed that the evaluation of coursebooks is the final stage in its production. For this reason, this study explores the cultural content in an attempt to

contribute to the literature on the issues related to the extent to which global coursebooks can be said to have a real «globality» in themes and in representation.

In fact, coursebooks have been subject to various kinds of examination. Ellis (1997) differentiates between `predictive evaluation' and `retrospective evaluation'. While predictive evaluation concerns the decision of choosing the suitable material, retrospective evaluation focuses on materials that are already in use. Rea-Dickens (1994) adds to this distinction the description of the post-use evaluation. She distinguishes between pre-use evaluation, in-use evaluation, and post-use evaluation.

Nunan (1991) enumerates the different perspectives and angles from which commercial coursebooks could be evaluated. He adopts the six perspectives for evaluating materials that Littlejohn and Windeatt (1989) mentioned:

1. The general or subject knowledge contained in the materials.

2. Views on the nature and acquisition of knowledge.

3. Views on the nature of language learning.

4. Role relations implicit in materials.

5. Opportunities for the development of cognitive abilities.

6. The value and attitudes inherent in the materials (qtd in Nunan, 1991, p. 209).

Nunan (1991) comments that such a scheme is modest in the sense of being more realisable than calls for inviting teachers to «adopt a critical stance towards the materials' aims, appropriateness, and utility» (p. 209), as proposed by Breen and Candlin (1987).

Litz (n.d) asserts that recent research studies on coursebook evaluation are documented to focus on many issues such as «textbook design and practicality, methodological validity,

the role of textbooks in innovation, the authenticity of materials in terms of their representation of language, and the appropriateness of gender representation, subject matter, and cultural components» (p. 2). As stated by Nunan (1991), «[e]valuating and selecting commercial materials is not an easy task» (p. 209). It is so because many decisions need to be taken concerning these two operations like «[matching] the materials with the goals and objectives of the program, and [ensuring] that they are consistent with [teachers'] beliefs about the nature of language and learning, as well as with (...) learners' attitudes, beliefs and preferences (ibid, italics mine). Therefore, it is essential to evaluate teaching materials and particularly coursebooks in order to forecast, measure, or evaluate their suitability for learners around the globe.

Numerous studies have focused on the evaluation of the cultural content in global coursebooks such as the investigation of stereotyping (Clarke & Clarke, 1991) and gender representation starting from the seventies (Hartman & Judd, 1978; Porreca, 1984; Gray, 2002; Mineshima, 2008).

All of the issues stressed in this background to the study will be closely dealt with throughout the thesis as they are related to the issues explored in this study; connectedness, inappropriacy, and inclusivity.

Hence, this thesis is an attempt to contribute to research on coursebooks and more specifically on the issue of applicability of global coursebooks for learners around the world. Additionally, this study attempts to explore learners' perception of an example of these globally marketed teaching materials with special emphasis on Tunisian learners. In the following section, the key terms used in the study will be defined.

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