Journal of Linguistics and Literature
ISSN (Print): ISSN Pending ISSN (Online): ISSN Pending Website: Editor-in-chief: Mohammad Kaosar Ahmed
Open Access
Journal Browser
Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2020, 4(2), 60-71
DOI: 10.12691/jll-4-2-3
Open AccessArticle

The Representations of Options and Cultural Elements in English Language Textbooks Used in Myanmar

Jia Li1, Zhijuan Ni1, and Juan Dong1

1School of Foreign Languages, Yunnan University, Kunming, China

Pub. Date: October 19, 2020

Cite this paper:
Jia Li, Zhijuan Ni and Juan Dong. The Representations of Options and Cultural Elements in English Language Textbooks Used in Myanmar. Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2020; 4(2):60-71. doi: 10.12691/jll-4-2-3


Language textbooks play an essential role in shaping learners’ awareness of cultural diversity and orientation. This study examines the imagined community represented in the English Text series of the advanced level (Grade 9-10) used in Myanmar. Data are collected through images, reading passages and exercises in the two textbooks. Drawing on the theoretical framework of ‘language ideology’, the study investigates how the source culture and target culture are represented in the English language textbooks with regard to gender, occupation, ethnicity and nationality. Findings reveal that while covering the Myanmar people of diverse backgrounds, there is the gendered representation of males and females in that female characters are confined to family domains orienting to traditional practices whereas males are constructed as wiser and powerful figures. In terms of constructing the image of Myanmar, the poverty-stricken discourse is prevalent as a result of the national disaster and disease attack rather than the historical consequences of colonization and ethnic conflicts. Such disaster discourse is widely depicted and justified when it comes to the neighbouring countries such as China and Japan. In contrast to its neighbouring countries, the West-European and Anglophone countries are exclusively constructed with positive image by erasing the previous colonial control and hostility. Using the concept of language hegemony, it is argued that such erasure of colonial elements in Myanmar is embedded in the post-colonial process of legitimazing English as tourism-driven resource for Myanmar’s economic development and regional internationalization with Southeast Asia. The study offers some implications for text design and recommendations for future research.

identity options cultural elements English textbooks Myanmar

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Aguliar, M.J.C., Dealing with international communicative competence in the foreign language classroom, In E.A.Soler & M.P.S. Jorda (Eds.), Intercultural Language Use and Language Learning (pp. 59-78), Dordrecht: Springer, 2007.
[2]  Byram, M, “Language awareness and (critical) cultural awareness--Relationships, comparisons and contrasts”. Language Awareness, 21(1-2), 5-13. 2012.
[3]  Cheng, C.M., “The influence of college EFL teachers’ understandings of intercultural competence on their pedagogical practices in Taiwan”. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 11(1), 164-182, 2012.
[4]  Norton, B., Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity, and educational change. Harlow, UK: Longman, 2000.
[5]  Pavlenko, A., “Access to linguistic resources: key variable in second language learning”. Estudios de Sociolinguistica, 1(2), 88-105, 2000.
[6]  Norton Pierce, B., “Social identity, investment, and language learning”. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9-31, 1995.
[7]  Bahrami, N, “Evaluating the representation of cultural elements in in-use EFL textbook. Advances” in Language and literary Studies, 6(3), 143-153, 2015.
[8]  Dong, J., Li, J, & Duan, W. “Identity Options and Cultural Representations in English Textbooks used in Cambodia”. Asian Social Science, 15(11), 60-74., 2019.
[9]  Duan, W., Li, J., Dong, J, & Sharif. “Identity Construction and Ideological Reproduction of the Secondary English Language Textbooks in Bangladesh”. International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 7(6), 302-314., 2019.
[10]  潘巍巍, “英语在缅甸的传播” [J]. 语言规划学研究, 2017(01): 81-87.
[11]  Li, J., Social Reproduction and Migrant Education: a Critical Sociolinguistic Ethnography of Myanmar Students’ Learning Experiences at a Border High school in China. Ph.D. Dissertation, Macquaire University, Sydney, Australia, 2017.
[12]  Mares, C., “Writing a coursebook. In B. Tomlinson (Ed)”, Developing materials for language teaching (pp. 130-140). London: Continuum, 2003.
[13]  Duan, W. Evaluating the Representations of Identities, linguistic and Cultural Elements in Chinese as a Second Language Textbooks Used in China. Master. Dissertation, Yunnan University, Yunnan, China, 2020.
[14]  Anderson, B, Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, London: Verso, 1991.
[15]  Alshammri, A., Evaluating the Representations of Identity Options and Cultural Elements on English Language Textbooks used in Saudi Arabia (master thesis). Macquaire University, Australia, 2017.
[16]  Alshammri, Awatif Fahad K, Evaluating the Representations of Identity Options and Cultural Elements in English Language Textbooks used in Saudi Arabia. Ph.D. Dissertation, Macquaire University, Sydney, Australia, 2017.
[17]  Bin Obaid, R, “An evaluation of the second intermediate Saudi English language textbook from the teachers’ point of view”. Advances in Language and literary Studies, 7(2), 231-248, 2016.
[18]  Mohamed, M.A.S., The representation of the Orient in English language textbooks used in Libyan secondary schools (Doctoral dissertation, University of Sheffield). Retrieved from, 2014.
[19]  Fairclough, N., Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London: Longman, 1995.
[20]  Chouliaraki, L., & Fairclough, N.. Discourse in the late modernity: Rethinking critical discourse analysis. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 1999.
[21]  Fairclough, N., & Wodak, R., Critical discourse analysis. In T.A. van Dijk (Ed), Discourse as social interaction: Discourse studies 2(A multidisciplinary introduction)(pp. 258-284). London: Sage, 1997.
[22]  Fairclough, N., “Analysis discourse: Textual analysis for social research”. New York: Routledge, 2003.
[23]  Pennycook, Alastair. “Translanguaging and semiotic assemblages”. International Journal of Multilingualism, 14: 3, 269-282, 2017.
[24]  孟新星 杨宇杰, 浅议外来文化对缅甸饮食文化的影响, 行知部落. retrieved February 6, 2020, from, 2015.
[25]  Aye K.K., Sercombe P.,Language, Education and Nation-building in Myanmar.” In: Sercombe P., Tupas R. (eds) Language, Education and Nation-building. Palgrave Studies in Minority Languages and Communities. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2014.
[26]  Pan, Lin, English as a global language in China: Deconstructing the ideological discourses of English in Language Education. London: Springer, 2015.