A Systematic Review of the Representation of Cultural Elements in English as a Foreign Language Textbooks

Karakuş E.

LANGUAGE TEACHING AND EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, vol.4, no.1, pp.13-29, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Indexes: ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.13-29
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Textbooks are complementary to language learning and teaching. Considering various foreign language teaching contexts, they also serve as one of the main tools to provide learners with cultural content. This mixed-methods systematic review aimed to identify predominant cultural elements in 22 studies published between 2005 and 2019, focusing on the analysis of foreign language textbooks. It also attempted to provide a review of the research designs to investigate the representation of cultural elements in language textbooks used in EFL (English as a foreign language) contexts. Concerning the prevalent cultural representations, five main themes emerged: (1) the dominance of target culture, (2) the lack of local culture, (3) the scarcity of cross-cultural comparisons, (4) the presence of surface culture, and (5) the imbalanced proportion of the world cultures. The findings also indicated that the quantitative studies outnumbered the qualitative and mixed-method research designs. The most frequently used research method to analyze the content of foreign language textbooks was content analysis.