Analyzing the cultural content of materials used for teaching English to high school speakers of Arabic in Israel

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Abstract

This article analyzes English textbooks used in Israel to examine whether their cultural content is appropriate for the Palestinian Arab learner. This topic is significant, as the English curriculum in Israel is uniform in all sectors. The article presents a critical discourse analysis of six English textbooks used in Israeli high schools to examine the recurrence of seven discursive devices that might possibly serve as a means for shaping or (re)producing ideological values: (1) culturally distinctive names, (2) pronouns, (3) the passive/active voice when relating to the Other, (4) explicit statements defining the target audience, (5) narratives involving faraway cultures that perpetuate Western stereotypes and exclude the Other, (6) a demand for culturally specific prior knowledge, and (7) discourse constructing identities and collective memories. These devices serve to foster English learners imbued with Western oriented Jewish-Zionist ideology, while reproducing and perpetuating hegemonic ideology. Thus, English textbooks in Israel marginalize the Palestinian Arab minority, its culture and common traditions, thereby engendering a learning environment that creates a negative learning experience for students of this sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-542
Number of pages26
JournalDiscourse and Society
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Constructing ideologies
  • English textbooks
  • discourse analysis
  • discursive devices
  • representation
  • shaping identities/collective memories

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