A Comparative Study of Gender Orientations and Topic of the Conversations in ELT Materials: The Case of Interchange, Tope Notch and Touchstone Series

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Tahereh Soleimani


Despite so many researches which have been done on the issue of gender in ELT textbooks and the essential role of conversations as a source of natural language, little has been focused on analyzing conversational topics from the perspective of gender in ELT textbooks. In the light of this gap, the present study investigated gender representation in conversations of ELT textbooks regarding three aspects of gender orientation, the topic of conversations, and distribution of male and female interlocutors. To this end, an aggregate of 108 conversations from three ELT textbooks commonly used in Iran, namely Top Notch, Interchange and Touchstone series were randomly selected. Then, gender orientation was examined by quantifying the frequency of same-gender and mixed-gender oriented conversations. Subsequently, through the qualitative analysis, different conversational topics were listed based on the Tomlinson’s (2003) topic classification of ELT textbooks and the relationship between gender orientations and topic of the conversations was explored. Finally, the quantitative analysis and comparison was followed by calculating the frequency of males and females in conversations throughout three textbooks and also across three levels of language proficiency. The results indicated that conversations in textbooks are mostly mixed-gender oriented, while there is a balance between male-male and female-female conversations. Moreover, gender orientations extremely influence the topic of conversations. Furthermore, a balanced representation of males and females in conversations is conveyed throughout three levels of textbooks. Finally, implications of the findings for ELT material developers, language teachers, and practitioners are discussed.

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Research articles