Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Counter-Cultural Patterns in Iranian Efl Textbooks and Their Relationship with the Level Increase

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Counter-Cultural Patterns in Iranian Efl Textbooks and Their Relationship with the Level Increase

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Textbooks are of crucial importance in promoting the way second language is taught and learned within the class time. Almost all students appear to be pretty attentive concerning the concepts they encounter in the textbooks they study each semester so that they cannot help making use of them in their routine lives; that is to say, once they acquire some knowledge of social, religious, cultural and linguistic topics, they cannot avoid their impression (Kafi,et al; 2013). The issue of textbook impacts is so important that has led the researchers to carry out a wide variety of studies on this regard and language teachers to choose the kind of textbook most compatible with the culture of the learners' society.

Language and culture are so interrelated that learning a language is found out by a great number of researchers to be almost impossible without learning about the culture of that language. Language learning as stated by Wilkes (1983) is made up of three closely interlinked parts: linguistic, cultural, and attitudinal. Cultural materials, however, as applied in TESL or TEFL, are mostly constructed in accordance with patterns of American Culture and are hence organized in such a way to generate a greatly restricted, imprecisely described and not essentially suitable kind of cultural consciousness (Fenner 2001). According to Clarke and Clarke (1990) there are a lot of conventional beliefs and prejudices in British EFL texts specifically those concerned with topics such as gender, race, class, and religion. The most typical ideological clue in all the imported EFL books was reported to be consumerism and sexism (Abdollahzadeh and Baniasad, 2010). The cultural values of the target language, therefore, may be regarded as counter-cultural patterns in an Islamic society which may give rise to some problems in TEFL.

EFL learners' attitudes towards a specific culture can be of vital importance in curriculum settings. Negative attitudes contribute to failure in learning the language and positive attitudes overshadow the learners' accomplishments. The significance of culture has led the ministry of education in Iran as an Islamic country to publish, assign, and utilize textbooks compatible with Islamic culture for school students. University teachers, however, seem to have more freedom to choose among a wide variety of textbooks imported from English-speaking countries. As many of these textbooks may be less suited to Iranian Islamic culture, much care and attention is required in order to select and teach a coursebook with the fewest cultural and social shortcomings regarding Iranian cultural values.

The following study aims at exploring the frequency of the counter-cultural patterns found in English EFL textbooks taught to university students taking pre-university and general English courses as a prerequisite for ESP courses. The textbooks under consideration are Active Skills for Reading and Select Readings series most commonly utilized at the universities of Boushehr Province. Between these two types of textbook series, the one with fewer counter-cultural patterns seems to be closer to the objectives of education in Islamic societies and hence priority should be given to it over the next. This study also seeks to explore whether there is any relationship between the level of the EFL textbooks and the frequency of the counter-cultural patterns embedded in them; in other words, whether the number of non-Islamic values increases or decreases with the rise in the textbook level.

2.Language and culture relationship

An enormous number of studies carried out on language and culture manifest a close connection between these two notions. This complex and interrelated link (Mitchell & Myles, 2004) is indicated in such concepts as 'linguaculture' (Friedrich, 1989), 'languaculture' (Risager, 2005), 'language-and-culture' (Liddicoat, Papademetre, Scarino, & Kohler, 2003) and culturelanguage (Papademetre & Scarino, 2006). …

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