The English Textbook. Tensions from an Intercultural Perspective

  • Astrid Nuñez-Pardo Universidad Externado de Colombia
Keywords: English textbook, critical analysis, interculturality, critical interculturality


This review article addresses tensions, critiques and trends that are still latent in mainstream research on English textbooks that have looked at their intercultural aspects, which need to be explored from the perspective of critical interculturality to resist the instrumental, regulatory, homogenizing and commercial nature of textbooks developed by foreign and local publishing houses. The manuscript firstly elaborates on the textbook as an object of research; secondly, it discusses critical analysis of the content of textbooks; and thirdly, the text concludes by pondering critical interculturality, as a decolonial alternative, to make possible the construction of criteria of being, knowledge and power to orient the development of the English textbook, and move away from a de-contextualised textbook toward a desirable contextualised one. This article encompasses the state of the art supporting an ongoing research study on the English textbook from the perspective of critical interculturality that is being conducted within the doctoral programme1 in Education at Universidad Pedagógica and Tecnológica de Colombia (UPTC), conducted during 2014-2018, and supported by Universidad Externado de Colombia, Bogotá.

            Key words: English textbook, critical analysis, interculturality, critical interculturality

1 Decolonising the English Textbook: A Venture from Critical Interculturality


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Astrid Nuñez-Pardo, Universidad Externado de Colombia

holds an M.A. in Education, a Specialisation in International Economics, a B.A. in Hotel and Tourism Business Management from Universidad Externado de Colombia, a Diploma in Linguistic Studies from University of Essex, Colchester, England, and on Child Rights Classroom and School Management from Lund University, Sweden. She is pursuing her PhD in Education at UPTC, Colombia, is a professor for the Master's Programme in Education and the leader of the research line on Materials Development and Didactics at this university, acknowledged by COLCIENCIAS


Ahmed, F. y Narcy-Combes, M. F. (2011). An analysis of textbooks from a cultural point of view. TESOL Journal, 5, 21-37

Aicega, D. (2007) Los libros de texto para la enseñanza de inglés: Una mirada crítica. Puertas Abiertas, 3(3), 99-102.

Ajideh, P., & Panahi. M. (2016). An analysis of culture-related content in English textbooks for Iranian students entitled ‘Prospect’ and ‘Vision’ Series. International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 3(6), 87-93.

Aliakbari, M., & Jamalvandi, B. (2013). Realization of culture in English textbooks in Chinese high school level. Journal of Pan- Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 16(2), 89-101.

Aliakbari, M. (2004). The place of culture in the Iranian ELT textbooks in high school level. The proceedings of the 9th Conference of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics. Cheonan, Corea del Sur.

AL-Obaidi, L., (2015). The cultural aspects in the English textbook “Iraq opportunities” for intermediate stages. (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Iraq: Middle East University.

Álvarez, J.A. (2008). Educational commercialism: ¿Is it overtaking EFL in Colombia? ASOCOPI Newsletter, p. 7.

Allwright, R. L. (1981). What do we want teaching materials for? ELT Journal, 36(1), 5–18.

Amalsaleh, E., Javid, F., & Rahimi, A. (2010). The power of language and ELT textbooks. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 2052-2056.

Anvedsen, E. J. (2012). Textbooks, tasks and reading literacy: A close look at the teacher’s resources in secondary school. (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Trondheim: Norwegian University of Science and Technology NTNU.

Arias, L., Campo, E., & Zuluaga, J. (2001). Apropos of accreditation: Coursebook evaluation and culture implementation in FLC. Folios, 13,1-13.

Baiqiang, T. (2008). Identifying and combating sexism in EFL textbooks- with a case study into China. Independent Researcher, P R China.

Bataineih, A. (2009). An evaluation of the authentic socio-cultural elements in the prescribed English language textbooks of the secondary schools in Jordan. An-Najah University Journal for Research (Humanities) – B, 23(1), 289-324.

Bennett, M. J. (1998). Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected readings. Yarmouth: Intercultural-Press.

Borre, E. (1996). Libros de texto en el caleidoscopio. Pomares-Corredor, Barcelona, España: Editorial Trotta S. A.

Byram, M., Gribkova, B., & Starkeu, H. (1997). Developing the intercultural dimension in language teaching a practical introduction for teachers. The Council of Europe, 1-35.

Byram, M., Nichols, A., & Stevens, D. (Eds.) (2001). Developing intercultural competence in practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Cárdenas, M. L. (2006). Bilingual Colombia: Are we ready for it? What is needed? Proceedings of the 19th Annual English Australia Education Conference. Retrieved from

Canagarajah, S. (2002). Globalization, methods, and practice in periphery classrooms. In. D. Block y D. Cameron (Eds.), Globalization and language teaching (pp.134-450). London, UK: Routledge.

Canagarajah, S. (2005a). Reconstructing local knowledge, reconfiguring language studies. In S. Canagarajah, (Ed). Reclaiming the Local in Language Policy and Practice. (pp. 3-24). Mahwah, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Canagarajah, S. (2005b). Introduction. In S. Canagarajah (Ed.). Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice. Mahwah, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, xiii–xxx.

Choppin, A (1992). Les manuels scolaires: histoire et actualité [School handbooks: past and present]. París, Francia: Hachette Education, Collection Pédagogies pour demain.

Cortazzi, M., & Jin, L. (1999). Cultural Mirrors: Materials and Methods in EFL Classroom. En E. Hinkel (Ed.), Culture in Second Language Teaching. (pp.169-206). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Craeynest, F. V. (2015). Gender representations in EFL textbooks: a quantitative and qualitative content analysis. (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Ghent University, Flanders, Belgium.

Cunningsworth, A. (1995). Choosing your coursebook. London: Heinemann.

Dabbagh, A. (2016). Gender representation under critical image analysis: The case of Iranian ELT textbooks. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies, 4(4), 39-52. Retrieved from

Datzman, B. (2013). Gender representation and EFL textbooks: A case study. Journal of The Faculty of Global Communication, 14, 1-13

Dehbozorgi, M., Amalsaleh, E., & Kafipour, R. (2014). Exploring cultural content of three prominent EFL textbooks in Iran (a case study of American English File, Top Notch and Four Corners). Acta Didactica Napocensia, 7(1) 69-81.

De Sousa Santos, B. (2006). La Sociología de las Ausencias y la Sociología de las Emergencias: para una ecología de saberes [Sociology of absences and emergences: For an ecology of knowledge]. (pp.13-41). In: B. De Sousa, S. (Ed,), Renovar la teoría crítica y reinventar la emancipación social. (pp. 13-41). Buenos Aires, Argentina: CLACSO.

De Sousa Santos, B. (2010). Para descolonizar occidente. Más allá del pensamiento abismal. CLACSO, Prometeo Libros, Buenos Aires, 1-82. Retrieved from

Di Franco M. G., Siderac, S., & Di Franco, N. (2007). Libros de texto: ¿saberes universales o descontextualizados? [Textbooks: Universal or decontextualised knowledge?]. Horizontes Educacionales, 12(1), 23-33.

Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power. London: Longman.

Farzaneh, N., Kohandanib. M., & Nejadansaric, D. (2014). A Textbook evaluation of socio-cultural contexts in Top Notch series. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 472- 481.

Fernández-Reiris, A. (2006). La importancia de ser llamado “libro de texto”. Hegemonía y control del currículo en el aula. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Niño y Dávila.

Freire, P. (1971), Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herderand Herder.

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Freire, P. & Macedo, D. (1987). Reading the Word and the World. Boston, MA.: Bergins & Garvey Publishers, Inc.

Fuentes, M. (2011). Conocimiento escolar y libros de texto. Una perspectiva intercultural. (Unpublished doctorate thesis). Madrid, España: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.

García, R. (1996). Los estudios del instituto Georg Eckert para la investigación internacional sobre libros de texto [Studies of the Georg Eckert institute for the international research on textbooks]. Didáctica de las Ciencias Experimentales y Sociales, 10, 3-9.

Garinger, D. (2002). Textbook selection for the ESL classroom. ERIC Digest. Retrieved from ERIC database. (EDO-FL-02-10).

Ghorbani, L. (2009). An investigation of the manifestation of sexism in EFL/ESL textbooks.
Retrieved from E

Giroux, H. A. (2001). Public spaces, private lives: beyond the culture of cynicism. New York; USA: Roman & Littlefield.

Giroux, H., & McLaren, P. (Eds.). (1994). Between borders: Pedagogy and the politics of cultural studies. New York: Routledge.

Giroux, H., & Simon, R. (1988). Schooling, popular culture, and a pedagogy of possibility. Journal of Education, 170(1), 9-26.

Gómez, L. F. (2015). The cultural content in EFL textbooks and what teachers need to do about it. PROFILE Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 17(2), 167-187. Retrieved from

González, A. (2012). On English language teaching and teacher education. Academic disagreements in a developing country. Retrieved from

Guijarro, J. R. (2005) La representación axiológica del género y la orientación sexual en libros de texto de inglés para Secundaria [Axiogical representation of gender and sexual orientation in the English textbook]. Porta Linguarum, 4,151-166.

Habib, A. (2014). An analysis of cultural load in English textbooks taught in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. NUML Journal of Critical Inquiry, 12(2), 72-88.

Hall, M. (2014). Gender representation in current EFL textbooks in Iranian secondary schools. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 5(2), 253-261.

Hartman, Pat L. & Elliot L. Judd. 1978. Sexism and TESOL materials. TESOL Quarterly, 12(4), 383-393.

Hill, P. (1980). Women in the world of ELT textbooks. EFL Gazette, 18/19, June/July.

Hinkel, E. (2001). Building awareness and practical skills to facilitate cross-cultural communication. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (3rd ed., pp. 443-358). Boston, MA.: Heinle Cengage Learning.

Hussein Al Migdadi, M. (2008). The teaching of English and its culture in EFL contexts: A case study of English language instructors and students in the language centre at Al al-Bayt. (Unpublished doctorate thesis). Amán: The University of Jordan.

Jahan, A. (2012). Residual cultural imperialism in primary textbooks in Bangladesh: A critique of the English for today textbooks. English for today, 3, 73-94

Jiang, B. (2010). The role of college English textbooks in the teaching of culture in China. (Unpublished Doctorate Thesis). York, UK: University of York.

Kincheloe, J. L. (1993). Toward a critical politics of teacher thinking: Mapping the postmodern. Westport, CT, USA: Bergin & Garvey.

Kincheloe, J. L., & McLaren, P. (2015). Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In N.K. Denzin e Y. S. Lincoln. (Eds.). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. (3ed., pp. 241-315) Thousand Oaks, California, USA: Sage Publications

Kirkgöz, Y., & Agcam, R. (2011). Exploring culture in locally published English textbooks for primary education in Turkey. CEPS Journal, 1(1), 153-167. Retrieved from URN: urn: nbn:de:0111-opus-65378

Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford, UK: Oxford University.

Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: an introduction to its methodology. California, USA: Sage Publications.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (1994). The post-method condition: (E)merging strategies for second/foreign language teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 28(1), pp. 27- 48.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2001). Postmethod pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 35(4),537-560.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond methods: macro strategies for language teaching. New Haven; USA: Yale University Press.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). Dangerous liaison: Globalization, empire and TESOL. En J. Edge (Ed.), (Re)locating TESOL in an age of empire (pp. 1–26). New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006a). TESOL Methods: changing tracks, challenging trends. TESOL Quarterly, 40, 59-81.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006b). Understanding language teaching. From method to post-metod. New Jersey, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2014). The Decolonial Option in English Teaching. Can the subaltern act? TESOL Quarterly, 14(1), 66-85.

Lander, E. (ed.) (2000) La colonialidad del saber: eurocentrismo y ciencias sociales: perspectivas latinoamericanas. Buenos Aires, Argentina: CLACSO.

Lee, J. F. (2014). A hidden curriculum in Japanese EFL textbooks: Gender representation. Linguistics and Education, 26, 39-53

Lee, J. F., & Collins, P. (2008). Gender voices in Hong Kong English textbooks: Some past
and current practices. Springer Science + Business Media, 59,127-137
doi: 10.1007/s11199-008-9414-6

Littlejohn, A. (2012). Language teaching materials and the (very) big picture. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(1), 283-297.

Martínez, B. (2008). Los libros de texto como práctica discursive [Textbooks as discursive practice]. Revista de la asociación de sociología de la educación, 1, 62-73.

Masuhara, H., Hann, M., Yi, Y., & Tomlinson, B. (2008). Adult EFL courses, ELT Journal, 62(3), 294-312.

Méndez, M. C. (2005). International and intercultural issues in English teaching textbooks: The case of Spain. Intercultural Education, 16(1), 57-68.

Miekley, J. (2005). ESL textbook evaluation checklist. The Reading Matrix, 5(2), 2-9.

Mora, D. (2009). Didáctica de las matemáticas. Desde una perspectiva crítica, investigativa, colaborativa y transformadora. La Paz, Bolivia: Editorial Instituto Internacional de Integración-Convenio Andrés Bello.

Mora, D., & Unzueta, S. (2012). Estudio comparativo de los libros de texto de matemáticas, lenguaje y ciencias naturales de algunos países del Convenio Andrés Bello. La Paz, Bolivia: Editorial del Instituto Internacional de Integración-Convenio Andrés Bello.

Moya, C. (2008). Aproximación al concepto y tratamiento del texto escolar [An aproximation to the concept and treatment of the textbook]. Cuadernos de Lingüística Hispánica, 11, 133-152.

Mukundan, J., & Nimehchisalem, V. (2008). Gender representation in Malaysian secondary school English language textbooks. Indonesian Journal of English Language Teaching, 4(2), 155-173.

Ndura, E. (2010). ESL and cultural bias: An analysis of elementary through high school textbooks in the western United States of America. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 17(2), 143-153. doi: 10.1080/07908310408666689

Negrín, M. (2009). Los manuales escolares como objeto de investigación [School handbooks as object of study]. Educación, Lenguaje y Sociedad, 6(6), 187-208.

Nguyen C. T. (2015). An evaluation of the textbook English 6: A case study from secondary schools in the Mekong Delta Provinces of Vietnam. (Unpublished Doctorate Thesis). South Yorkshire, England: University of Sheffield.

Nofall, M. & Qawar, H. (2015). Gender representation in English language textbooks: Action pack 10. American Journal of Educational Science, 1(2), 14-18. Retrieved from

Núñez, A., Téllez, M.F., & Castellanos, J. (2013). Proposal for the Research Line Materials Development and Didactics Ascribed to the Research Group: Critical Pedagogy and Didactics for Social Transformation. Unpublished manuscript, School of Education, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.

Pereira, A. (2013). Representações de gênero em livros didáticos de língua estrangeira: discursos gendrados e suas implicações para o ensino. En: A. Pereira. & L. Gottheim, (Org.). Materiais didáticos para o ensino de língua estrangeira: processos de criação e contextos de uso. Campinas: Mercado de Letras, 1, 113-146.

Porreca, K. (1984). Sexism in current ESL textbooks. TESOL Quarterly, 18(4) 705-724.

Prabhu, N. S. (1990). There is no best method—Why? TESOL Quarterly, 24, 161-176.

Pulverness, A., & Tomlinson, B. (2013). Materials for cultural awareness. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Developing materials for language teaching (pp. 443-459). London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Ramírez, G. A. & Hall, J. K. (1990). Language and culture in secondary level Spanish textbooks. Modern Language Journal, 74(1), 48-65.

Ramírez, T. (2002). El texto escolar como objeto de reflexión e investigación [The school textbook as object of reflection and research]. Docencia Universitaria, 3(1), 101-124.

Reimann, A. (2009). A Critical analysis of cultural content in EFL Materials. Journal of the Faculty of International Studies, Utsunomiya University, 85-101. Retrieved from

Rico, C. (2012). Language teaching materials as mediators for ICC development: A challenge for materials developers. Signo y Pensamiento, 30, 130-154.

Rifkin, B. (1998). Gender representations in foreign language textbooks: A case study of textbooks of Russian. The Modern Language Journal, 82(2), 217-236.

Rimani. F., & Soleimani, F. (2012). The manifestation of culture in Iranian and Turkish high school English text books. Academic Research International, 2(3), 646-656.

Scollon, R. & Scollon, S. (2001). Intercultural communication: A discourse approach. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 108 Cowley Road.

Syarifuddin, (2014). Sexism in EFL textbooks used in Indonesian schools. Lingua, 9(1), 62-74.

Thang, S. (2009). Addressing culture in EFL classrooms: The challenge of shifting from a traditional to an intercultural Stance. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 6(1), 63-76.

Tomlinson, B. (Ed.) (2003). Developing materials for language teaching. London, UK: Continuum Press.

Tomlinson, B. (2013). Developing materials for language teaching. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Tomlinson, B., Dat, B., Masuhara, H. & Rubdy, R. (2001). ELT courses for adults. ELT Journal, 55(1), 80-101.

Torres, S. J. (1993). Las culturas negadas y silenciadas en el currículum. En Cuadernos de Pedagogía, 217, 60-66.

Usma, J. (2009). Education and language policy in Colombia: Exploring processes of inclusion, exclusion, and stratification in times of global reform. PROFILE Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 1, 123-141.

Valencia, S. (2006). Literacy practices, texts, and talk around texts: English language teaching developments in Colombia. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 8, 7-37.

Varón, M. E. (2009). Componente cultural, libros de texto y enseñanza del inglés como lengua extranjera [Cultural component, textbooks and teaching of English as a foreign language]. Forma y Función, 22(1), 95-124. Bogotá, Colombia.

Villalaín, J. (2001). El proyecto MANES: Una aproximación sistemática al estudio de los manuales escolares de los siglos XIX y XX. Revista Educación y Pedagogía, 13(29-30), 85-91

Voloshinov, V. (1992) El marxismo y la filosofía del lenguaje. Madrid, España: Alianza.

Walsh, C. (2009). Interculturalidad crítica y educación intercultural [Critical interculturality and education]. Artículo ampliación de la ponencia presentada en el Seminario “Interculturalidad y Educación Intercultural”, organizado por el Instituto Internacional de Integración del Convenio Andrés Bello, La Paz, 9-11 de marzo de 2009. pp.1-18.

Xiao, J. (2010). Cultural content of an in-use EFL textbook in English major students’ attitudes and perceptions towards culture learning at Jinagxi University of Science and Technology. (Unpublished Doctorate Thesis). China: Prince of Songkla University.

Yassine, S. (2012). Culture issues, ideology and otherness in EFL textbooks: A social, semiotic, multimodal approach (Unpublished Doctorate Thesis). Algeria: Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi-Ouzou.

Zhang, X. (2017). A critical review of literature on English language teaching textbook evaluation: What systemic functional linguistics can offer. Journal of Language and Cultural Education, 5(1), 78-102.
How to Cite
Nuñez-Pardo, A. (2018). The English Textbook. Tensions from an Intercultural Perspective. GiST Education and Learning Research Journal, (17), 230-259.