Socially Responsible Teaching and English Language Coursebooks: Focus on Ethnicity, Sex, and Disability
The purpose of this study is to analyze the reading passages and related pictures published in English language coursebooks in terms of ethnicity, sex and disability by relating them to socially responsible teaching. Socially responsible teaching necessitates the integration of social issues and values, global concerns and peace education into instructional materials. By this way, students will be encouraged to form a sense of respect, tolerance and sensitivity towards differences amongst ethnicities, nationalities, sexes and other forms of differences in order to be better prepared as citizens of our world. In that sense, such studies are important to assess coursebooks’ value in terms of what is inherent in them from the perspective of socially responsible teaching. A checklist formerly used by Cunningsworth (1995) was adapted and used for the purposes of this study. The checklist was used to understand the representation and portrayal of sexes, disabilities and ethnicities as they appear in these coursebooks. This checklist included the headings of nationalities, whether any kind of disability is included or not, types of disability, number of males and females and gender specific roles attached to males and females. The reading passages and the accompanying pictures in each coursebook were analyzed carefully and whenever a nationality, disability, and gender role appeared, their codes were categorized. About 240 reading passages in total were analyzed throughout the study and frequencies and percentages for each coursebook were calculated. Results were represented in different types of figures, charts and tables to make them more comprehensible. Results indicate that the coursebooks analyzed generally lack sensitivity to differences based on nationalities, sexes and disability. Results also demonstrate that disability gets little or no place in the coursebooks studied. Also, it was found that females are not represented equally with males. With regards to ethnicity, native speakers of English appear in the coursebooks more than non-native speakers do. Although this study is limited to ten coursebooks, because these coursebooks were widely used all around the world, it presents us an invaluable picture of the reality under study. However, future research should focus on ethnicity, gender, and disability from a discourse perspective to understand the nature of such representations.
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