11 SES 13, Teaching and Cognitive Development
Spoken by over 1.5 billion people, English as a second/ foreign language was integrated into standardized school curricula by more than one hundred nations (Crystal, 2012). The modern language education primarily aims to enable students to communicate with people from different cultures after equipping them with necessary language skills; thus, EFL course books as teaching materials should not be limited to native English speaking cultures (Cortazzi & Jin, 1999; Alptekin, 2002).
Textbooks have always been regarded as the main sources of input for foreign/ second language learners especially in institutions that offer formal education. Hence, it is crucially significant to design them appropriately in order to meet learner needs. In this vein, textbook evaluation has taken considerable attention from EFL program developers as well as EFL practitioners, and gained importance for the development and administration of language learning programs (McGrath, 2002, cited in Azizfar et al., 2010). It basically refers to an applied linguistic process through which various stakeholders in education such as teachers and material developers can make judgments about the effectiveness of the employed materials (Tomlinson et al., 2001: 15, cited in Azizifar et al., 2010). In general terms, textbooks are supposed to cover linguistic aspects of a language; however, it is a fact that not all of them may efficiently operate concerning language use and teaching target culture.
The review of literature reveals that a great consensus has been reached among foreign language teachers on that teaching culture is important in foreign/ second language education (Damen, 1987; Kramsch, 1991; 1998; Lange & Paige, 2003; Chang, 2004), and textbooks are often viewed as the main sources of linguistic and cultural knowledge of the target language in EFL context (Cortazzi & Jin, 1999; Chan, 2004). In this regard, many linguists agree that foreign/ second language acquisition/ learning process would be incomplete if the target culture were neglected. Since learning a new language requires learning of the culture it belongs to, and language teachers are simultaneously considered as teachers of culture (Byram, 1989), cultural transmission through teaching materials has become an important issue for educators (Allwright & Bailey, 1991). Many linguists and researchers proceeded to state that teaching culture as a skill should be considered as important as the other four skills in language teaching, and culture should be integrated into EFL/ ESL teaching materials (Alptekin, 1993, 2002; McKay, 2000; Kılıçkaya, 2004; Jourdini, 2007). Furthermore, it is important for the learners to be exposed to target language and culture as early as possible. However, the existing literature on the integration of cultural elements into educational materials designed for young learners has shown that such studies have been rarely conducted in Turkey. It is noteworthy that no research has been carried out with a focus on the use of (inter)cultural elements in EFL textbooks for young learners enrolled in state primary schools in the country after the release of the revised EFL teaching program by Ministry of National Education (MoNE) in 2017.
In consequence, this study is projected to evaluate EFL textbooks introduced in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in Turkish state primary schools with regard to the cultural elements they include. It specifically intends to explore to what extent the textbooks in concern contain references to the source (Turkish) culture, the target (British/ American) culture and inter-national target culture, and to find out whether the textbooks significantly differ regarding these elements across grades.
The current research will utilize Content Analysis (CA) method to identify appropriate patterns or categories of the cultural content throughout four sets of EFL textbooks published in Turkey. The content could include words, pictures, themes, ideas and any messages that are planned to be communicated, and the text can be in written, visual or spoken forms that are served as a medium of communication, such as books, pictures, films and documents (Neuman, 1997; Cohen et al., 2000). CA is usually considered as an objective and reliable method in historical or educational research because explicit rules are followed during the procedure of classifying and arranging data (Holsti, 1969; Cohen et al.2000). In this research, four textbooks entitled “İlkokul İngilizce Ders Kitabı 2, 3, 4 and 5” [Primary School EFL Textbooks for Grade 2, 3, 4 and 5] introduced in Turkish state primary schools will be analyzed. For cultural analysis, both visuals (pictures, maps, photographs, illustrations, and etc.) and written texts (names of characters and places, theme of the written texts, and etc.), will be examined in each textbook with respect to cultural representation. Subsequently, the cultural references will be classified into three categories based on the framework proposed by Cortazzi and Jin (1999) and McKay (2000): (i) source (Turkish) culture, (ii) target (British/American) culture, and (iii) international target culture (French, German, Spanish, etc.). The visuals and written texts with no direct cultural references will be regarded as “culture-free” components, and excluded from the data set. The results obtained from the analysis will be separately presented for each book. Finally, the four books will be compared with regard to cultural components they contain.
Since the research has recently started, it is too early to report findings and to draw conclusions on them. However, the existence of a multicultural policy in the coursebooks (11th Edition) shows that special attention has been given to improvement of language teaching materials; so, integration of cultural elements from diverse nations into textbooks has become common practice since 2000s (Hamiloğlu & Mendi, 2010). It should be noted that this does not individually lead to increased awareness of cultural diversity. As posited by Shin et al. (2011: 265), teaching about culture is much more than a simple presentation of cultural facts. On the other hand, it is revealed that government-issued language learning materials, in fact, include cultural elements that represent diverse nations rather than limit their views to home and target cultures. Therefore, this study is hoped to provide an insight for the development of enhanced teaching resources that can promote the development of “international-minded citizens” (Dooly & Villanueva, 2006: 225) who are equipped with intercultural communicative competence to interact with members of diverse cultures effectively. In addition, the findings of the present research are expected to initiate an argument for improved culture teaching in the Turkish EFL context through raising language teachers’ awareness of providing students with multicultural experience. Lastly, the overall results of the study are expected to be in line with previous studies (Kırkgöz & Ağçam, 2011; Çelik & Erbay, 2013), indicating that locally published English textbooks for young learners have a reasonably good balance between three types of cultural elements (target, source and international). Nonetheless, references to cultural elements might be considered superficial, and they might not include sufficient information for cultural acquisition. The study will discuss findings in detail and offer practical implications for EFL textbook designers and teachers in Turkey.
Alptekin, C. (1993). Target-language culture in EFL materials. ELT Journal, 47(2), 136-143. Alptekin, C. (2002). Towards intercultural communicative competence in ELT. ELT Journal, 56(1), 57-64. Allwright, D., & Bailey, K. M. (1991). Focus on the language classroom: An introduction to classroom research for language teachers. Cambridge University Press. Azizifar, A., Koosha, M., & Lotfi, A. R. (2010). An analytical evaluation of Iranian high school ELT textbooks from 1970 to the present. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 3, 36-44. Byram, M. (1989). Cultural studies in foreign language education. Multilingual Matters, 46. Celik, S., & ERBAY, Ş. (2013). Cultural Perspectives of Turkish ELT Coursebooks: Do Standardized Teaching TextsIncorporate Intercultural Features Education&Science/Egitim ve Bilim, 38(167). Cohen, L.,& Manion, L. K. Morrison (2000). Research methods in education, 5. Cortazzi, M.,& Jin, L. (1999). 1 1 Cultural mirrors. Culture in second language teaching and learning, 196. Crystal, D. (2012). English as a global language. Cambridge University Press. Damen, L. (1987). Culture learning: The fifth dimension in the language classroom, 11478. Addison Wesley Publishing Company. Dooly, M., & Villanueva, M. (2006). Internationalisation as a key dimension to teacher education. European Journal of Teacher Education, 29(2), 223-240. Jourdini, M. (2007). The Fifth Skill: Culture as a Language Learning Motivator. http://www.stoa.org. Hamiloğlu, K., & Mendi, B. (2010). A content analysis related to the cross-cultural/ intercultural elements used in EFL coursebooks. Sino-US English Teaching, 7(1), 16-24. Holsti, O. R. (1969). Content analysis for the social sciences and humanities. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. Kilickaya, F. (2004). Guidelines to Evaluate Cultural Content in Textbooks. Online Submission, 10(12). Kirkgöz, Y.,& Agcam, R. (2011). Exploring culture in locally published English textbooks for primary education in Turkey. CEPS Journal: Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 1(1), 153. Kramsch, C. (1991). Culture in language learning: A view from the United States. Foreign language research in cross-cultural perspective, 217-240. Paige, R. M., Jorstad, H. L., Siaya, L., Klein, F., Colby, J., Lange, D., & Paige, R. (2003). Culture learning in language education. Culture as the core: Perspectives on culture in second language learning, 173-236. McGrath, I. (2002). Materials evaluation and design for language teaching. Edinburgh University Press. McKay, S. L. (2000). Teaching English as an international language: Implications for cultural materials in the classroom. TESOL journal, 9(4), 7-11. Shin, J., Eslami, Z. R., & Chen, W. C. (2011). Presentation of local and international culture in current international English-language teaching textbooks. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 24(3), 253-268.
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