A Study on Users' Attitudes on the Treatment of the Cultural Content in the College EFL Textbook

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This paper investigates 286 non-English majors and 32 English teachers' attitudes on the treatment of the cultural content in textbooks by using Huhn's criteria. All of the participants are from the Tianjin Polytechnic University (TJPU). The aim of this thesis is to offer some valuable information and suggestions to the compilation of the fifth phase of college English textbooks and the implementation of the culture teaching. The results show that the student and teacher subjects' attitudes on the treatment of the cultural content in the chosen textbooks are basically reasonable and tend to be the same.

Key Words: College English Textbooks; Textbook evaluation; The treatment of the cultural content


It is widely accepted that fostering learners' international communicative competence (henceforth ICC) is the terminative aim of foreign language education (henceforth FLE). In China, English is taught as a foreign language not a second language, so the most of English teaching and learning happen in class, which means teaching materials play an important role in English teaching and learning. Cunningsworth stated that "teaching materials can exert considerable influence over what teachers teach and how they do it" (Cunningsworth, 2002, p. 7). On the other hand, because China's education is heavily under the influence of Confucianism and Daoism, students get into the habit of depending on textbooks (Zhang, 2007, p.262). Textbooks were not the only resources to learn English or cannot cover everything, but "textbook remains the major source of cultural content that occurs in a language classroom" (Eli HinKel, 2005).

The culture teaching and learning and the textbooks both are very important, so this research focuses on analyzing the treatment of the cultural content in the college FLT textbooks of non-English majors. The chosen textbooks in this study are the first four volumes of College English (New Edition), compiled by Li, et.al, which were widely used in the Chinese colleges and universities, including TJPU.


A lot of researchers at home and abroad provided the famous criteria and checklists to the evaluate the cultural content, such as Cunningsworth's view ; Andersen & Risager's view; Cortazzi & Jin's view; Byram's view in the foreign countries, while Cheng Xiaotang also put forward the outstanding systematic evaluation in China. However, all of them are not related with the treatment of the cultural content. Huhn (1978) put forward seven criteria to deal with the treatment of cultural content in textbooks (Huhn, 1978; Cited in Byram, 1989, p.73-74):

* Giving factually accurate and up-to-date information

* Avoiding (or relativizing) stereotypes by raising awareness

* Presenting a realistic picture

* Being free from (or questioning) ideological tendencies

* Presenting phenomena in context rather than a isolated facts

* Explicitly relating historical material to contemporary society

* Making it clear how personalities are products of their age

That the culture transmitted through textbooks should avoid the influence from the ideology is emphasized by Huhn's theory. This evaluation checklist can make sure that the transmitted cultural content can reflect the target culture actually, and can judge whether the textbook is practical or not, so this paper chose Huhn's checklist on the treatment of cultural content in textbook as its criteria. In Huhn's criteria, the word "stereotype" means some fixed and out-of-date even unreal ideas or images about a society.


2.1 Research Questions

This thesis focuses on analyzing the treatment of cultural content in CE (New) from the external perspectives. The present study will be conducted as: the in-use comments on the treatment of cultural content in CE (New) from the perspective of the textbook users - students and teachers. …


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