Representation of Gender in the Dialogues of the Textbooks English Step by Step 5 and I Love English 5
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The aim of this thesis is to analyse the representation of gender in the dialogues of two English language textbooks written by Estonian authors for Estonian learners: English Step by Step 5 (2008) and I Love English 5 (2008). In comparison to the general representation of men and women in textbooks, dialogues have not been analysed as extensively. However, they are of great importance in the language classroom as they help in developing and practising a variety of conversational skills related to the language being learnt. If one gender is given a smaller number of words or the characters of that gender are represented in a limited number of social roles, the students reading the part of those characters may get less practice opportunities or develop false assumptions of how native speakers of the target language speak. The introduction of the thesis discusses the role of schools and educational media in the process of socialisation and how doing gender is involved in that process. It also explains how the dialogues create a social context for language use and how inequalities in gendered models of those dialogues can affect learning. The first chapter gives an overview of the previous research on the topic of gender in textbooks, focusing generally on foreign language textbooks, but also including other textbooks studied in Estonia in order to give a broader overview of the local situation. Language use and its relation to gender are discussed in the second part. The third chapter describes the choice and structure of the materials, and lists the criteria for the quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative analysis focuses on the number of female, male and gender-neutral characters, the number of words and utterances they have and how many mixed-gender dialogues they initiate or conclude. The qualitative analysis focuses on the social roles and settings the characters are presented in, the language used to present them and the language the characters use to address each other or talk about other people, which language functions – informative, phatic, directive or expressive – do the characters use, and which examples of polite language use can be found in their speech. The fourth chapter presents and discusses the findings of this study. The findings in the two books are compared to each other and also to the findings of the previous studies described earlier. Additionally, the possible practice opportunities in gendered roles ascribed by the books are discussed as well.