Macquarie University
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Evaluating the representations of identity options and cultural elements in English language textbooks used in Saudi Arabia

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:09 authored by Awatif Fahad K. Alshammri
Given the importance of teaching language learners cultural identities and culture along with language to enhance their cultural awareness and communicative competence, this thesis evaluates six textbooks from the Lift off series to examine their representations of culture and cultural identities in the imagined communities offered to Saudi learners of English in the intermediate stage (Grades 7-9). Data were collected from pictures, reading passages and dialogues. Fairclough's (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) framework was used for analyzing the data. The textbooks contain two clearly delineated imagined communities, one of Saudi characters and the other of foreign characters. These were examined for gender, occupational identities, ethnicity, nationality and religious affiliation. In addition, the cultural content ascribed to both the source culture (Saudi culture) and the target culture ('Western' culture) was examined. The findings reveal that the representation of Saudi characters is accurate in terms of identity options but that there is oversimplification, misrepresentation and imbalance in the representations of foreign characters. In addition, the findings show that the content of these textbooks focuses on representations of Saudi and Islamic cultures, i.e. the source culture and religion of Saudi learners. By contrast, the textbooks introduce simplistic representations of Western culture(s). The identity representations and cultural content in the textbooks under examination can thus be described as 'Saudi-centric'. These oversimplifications and misrepresentations of foreign characters and foreign cultures may have a negative impact on learners' motivation and may also lead to weak English competence. Thus, this research has implications for textbook design and suggests that a broader range of identity options of non-Saudi people and cultures should be included in English language teaching materials.


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction – 1.1 Overview – 1.2 Introduction – 1.3 An Outline of the Saudi Context – 1.4 Organization of the Thesis -- Chapter Two: Literature Review – 2.1 Overview – 2.2 The Importance of Textbooks in the EFL Classroom – 2.3 Hegemony and Ideology in Language Textbooks -- 2.4 Evaluating Language Textbooks – 2.5 Imagined Communities and Identities in Language Textbooks -- 2.6 Culture and Its Representation in Language Textbooks -- 2.7 Summary and Research Questions -- Chapter Three: Methodology – 3.1 Overview -- 3.2 Material Selection -- 3.3. Description of the Material -- 3.4 Data Analysis -- 3.5 Limitations of the Study -- Chapter Four: Imagined Communities and Identity Options -- 4.1 Overview -- 4.2 Characters from the Source and Target Cultures -- 4.3 Gender -- 4.4 Occupation -- 4.5 Ethnicity and Nationality -- 4.6 Religion -- 4.7 Discussion.-- Chapter Five: Imagined Communities and Cultural Representations -- 5.1 Overview -- 5.2 Representations of Saudi Culture as the Source Culture -- 5.2. 1 Gendered Aspects of Culture -- 5.2.2 Other Aspects of Saudi Culture -- 5.3 Representations of Western Culture -- 5.3. 1 Gendered Aspects of Culture -- 5.3.2 Other Aspects of Western Culture -- 5.4 Representations of Islamic Culture as Source, Target and Global Culture -- 5.4. 1 Islamic Culture as the Source Culture -- 5.4.2 Islamic Culture as the Target Culture -- 5.4.3 Islam as a Global Culture -- 5.5 Discussion -- Chapter Six: Conclusion, Implications and Recommendations -- 6.1Overview -- 6.2 Summary -- 6.3 Implications -- 6.4 Recommendations for Future Research -- References.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 74-80

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Ingrid Piller


Copyright Awatif Fahad K. Alshammri 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xii, 80 pages) colour illustrations

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