The Portrayal of the Other : A Postcolonial Perspective on ThreeESL Textbooks in Swedish Upper Secondary School

University essay from Örebro universitet/Institutionen för humaniora, utbildnings- och samhällsvetenskap

Abstract: The aim of this study is to investigate three English as a second language (ESL) textbooks used for English 6 in Swedish upper secondary school from a postcolonial perspective, answering the following research question: Who is the implied reader, based on assumptions of the expected experiences and culture, and what and who is constructed as deviant or Other? To examine these questions, the study employs critical discourse analysis and implements strategies from multimodal analysis. The analysis is concerned with matters such as what is constructed as familiar or unfamiliar to the student, what images are chosen, and what those images convey. The study shows that the implied reader is expected to align with Western culture and experiences in two of the textbooks. In the third, the implied reader has no ethnic markers at all. Further findings show several cases where non-Western cultures are depicted as deviant, both in texts and images. Therefore, I emphasize that it is important that teachers are aware of how different cultures are depicted in the materials they choose to use in their classroom to be able to prevent reproduction of harmful stereotypes and portrayals of non- Western cultures that do not align with the fundamental values of the Swedish school.

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