Identity Options and Cultural Representations in English Textbooks Used in Cambodia

  •  Jia Li    
  •  Juan Dong    
  •  Wei Duan    


Language textbooks play an important role in bridging learners’ understanding between the source culture and target culture. This study explores how the Cambodian and foreign characters are produced and how the source and target cultures are represented in three English language textbooks published by the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS). The data were collected from textbook passages, exercises and images presented in the textbooks and the data were analyzed based on the emerging themes in language and cultural representations of the textbooks. The findings indicate that regarding the distribution in the target communities, Anglophone and their postcolonial countries are prominently highlighted in the textbooks with the exception that Japan is exclusively introduced as imagined interlocutor for cultural communication; concerning the representation of the source culture, Buddhism and Khmer are constructed as legitimate forms of Cambodian practices. Based on the findings, we argue that English textbooks produced in Cambodia have not provided Cambodian youth with balanced exposure of cultural diversity. The study has implications for designing English textbooks with the consideration of diverse identity options and cultural representations.

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