ESL and Cultural Bias: An Analysis of Elementary Through High School Textbooks in the Western United States of America

  • Elavie Ndura
  • Published 2005

Abstract

The content of instructional materials significantly affects students’ attitudes and dispositions towards themselves, other people and society. This is particularly so with students of English as a Second Language (ESL) whose success in a new environment is conditioned not only by their mastery of the new language, but also, and especially, by their ability to negotiate the new culture. Building on the argument that learning a second language cannot be separated from the acquisition of the culture that it embodies, this paper argues that the design and adaptation of ESL textbooks and other instructional materials should reflect multiple perspectives inherent to a pluralistic society in order to engage students in a process of uncovering and confronting cultural biases and facilitate intercultural learning. The paper presents the findings from an examination of selected ESL textbooks for stereotypes and other cultural biases and discusses the potential impact of these biases on students. It posits that instructional materials that do not integrate students’ diverse life experiences in the teaching and learning process fail to empower them to identify the missing, misconstrued and misrepresented voices. The paper suggests five strategies for dealing with stereotypes and other cultural biases in ESL textbooks and other instructional materials.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Ndura2005ESLAC, title={ESL and Cultural Bias: An Analysis of Elementary Through High School Textbooks in the Western United States of America}, author={Elavie Ndura}, year={2005} }