Teachers, learners and materials - the problem areas

Materials and linguacultural representations

For learners of English, teaching materials used in the classroom often represent its culture and language use, and it is around teaching materials that classroom lessons are usually organised by teachers. Yet teaching materials found in textbooks are neither neutral nor unbiased. In this regard, Gray (2010a: 715) argues that global textbooks tend to take a 'dominant-hegemonic' approach to make 'English mean in particular ways'. Examples of Gray's point are that NES (Native English Speaking) writers who tend to take an Anglo-American approach (Shin et al., 2011) to develop materials and to ascertain the linguistic accuracy of ELT materials (Dat, 2008). Linguistic variation of English and/ or its cultural representation beyond the Anglo-Saxon/European world proves to be either inadequately represented or occasionally inaccurate (e.g. Baker, 2015; Dat, 2008; Matsuda, 2012). Hence, textbooks fail to represent the real world language use and context, showing a mismatch between not only prescribed NES(-like) texts and unpredictable real-world communication but also contexts of language learning and language use (Crawford, 2002). These observations suggest that the NES approach is the dominant one. If so, the input offered to students through teaching materials depicts English in ways that correspond more to NES-oriented linguacultural norms for communication, and less to a dynamic perspective of negotiating linguacultural variations and co-formulating communication norms in situ. Therefore, students' learning of English is likely to be shaped by the dominant linguacultural representation of English as it is presented in the textbooks that they are exposed to.

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