Journal of Linguistics and Literature
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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

Abstract

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.

Keywords:
identity options cultural elements English textbooks Myanmar

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