Are culture based textbooks easier for students and teachers to use?


Are culture based textbooks easier for students and teachers to use?

Hi everyone

Thanks to those of you who responded to our survey. Here’s an abridged presentation Robert Sheridan and John Jackson put together for the recent 2017 ThaiTESOL conference. It summarises our results and progress with the research so far. If you have any queries, thoughts or ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Researchers have demonstrated that nativization of foreign texts increases both literal and inferential comprehension (Alptekin, 2006; Ertzen & Razi, 2009, Tavakoli, Shirinbakhsh,& Rezazadeh, 2013) as well as vocabulary retention (Pulido, 2004).

Chihara, Sakurai, and Oller (1989, 2007) first demonstrated that students’ cloze scores improve when English names of people and places are changed to Japanese

The current status of English education textbooks

Very little research has been done into English language textbook use at the university level because of the difficulty in evaluating them. Reasons for this include: no standardization, who is choosing the textbook and multiple purposes of English education at the university level.

Our study

To bridge the culture gap in textbooks, our current research project has 2 prongs: 1. Assess and evaluate how textbooks are selected and used in Japanese universities; and 2.  Develop a series of textbooks that is culturally appropriate. This presentation concerns point 1.

Methodology: Instruments

We administered a 37-question survey divided into 3 sections: 1.  Personal Background Information (11 questions); 2.  Textbook Selection Questions for Teachers (4 questions) and 3.  Criteria for Textbook Selection and Evaluation (22 questions).

Results: Culture in textbooks

Educators selected 123 textbooks in this study.

·         Textbooks made in Japan or containing Japanese content were selected only a total of 10 times (8.1%)

·         The remaining 113 or 91.9% of the textbooks selected were made by one of the big publishers for an international audience

·         While our study is ongoing, our initial results show educators in Japan recognize the importance of local culture in the EFL classroom

·         However, this is widely contradicted in their textbook selection

·         The results show the omission of local culture in almost all of the textbooks selected

·         This research does suggest some intriguing conclusions and future avenues for further research.

Author of this article

Daniel Tang

Daniel Tang

Cultural and Historical Studies


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