A comparative study of gender representation in junior high school EFL textbooks of Hong Kong and Japan

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.54475/jlt.2023.027

Keywords:

gender equality, gender representation, Hong Kong, Japan, comparative analysis, EFL textbooks

Abstract

This study aims to investigate the representation of gender and the presence of male dominance in spoken discourse in two selected English Language textbooks for junior high school year one students: Longman English EDGE (2nd Edition) 1A and 1B in Hong Kong, and New Horizon: English Course Book 1 in Japan, respectively. This research employs both qualitative and quantitative analyses to examine the content of dialogues in each unit. Key areas of analysis include the number of domestic and occupational roles assigned to male, female, and gender-neutral characters, the range of activities undertaken by these characters, the character initiating conversations, the occurrence of males, females and gender-neutral characters in dialogues, and the number of spoken words and turns by them. The findings indicated an improvement in gender equality in both textbooks in various aspects, compared with other earlier textbooks which were examined by other researchers (Lee & Collins, 2008, 2010; Lee, 2018). In terms of role allocation and activities, a relatively balanced representation of male and female characters was observed. Female characters demonstrated a higher frequency of initiating conversations and taking turns. The average number of words spoken per turn by male and female characters was similar in the LE1A and LE1B textbooks, but male characters still spoke more per turn in NH1 textbook despite female characters taking more turns. Moreover, LE1A and LE1B employed gender-neutral names to mitigate gender stereotypes but gender-neutral names were not utilized in the Japanese textbook, despite the author’s effort to achieve gender equality. Considering these findings, this study reveals that male characters were underrepresented in the textbooks in Hong Kong and suggests that it is crucial to enhance gender awareness among English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers, provide explicit gender-sensitive instruction, and establish specific guidelines by educational authorities to assist textbook authors in creating gender-inclusive educational materials.

Author Biographies

  • Dexter Yim, The University of Oxford

    Dexter Yim is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching at The University of Oxford. After completing his studies in English Literature at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, he continued his academic journey by studying a master’s degree in creative writing and a PGDE (English Language Education) at The University of Edinburgh and The University of Hong Kong, respectively. With five years of experience teaching English in Hong Kong, his research interests include second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition, L2 motivation, language assessment, pedagogical approaches, and self-regulated learning.
    Email: dexterluckyim@gmail.com

  • Rolian Lee, Centre for Language Education, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

    Rolian Lee (Corresponding Author) is a lecturer at the Center for Language Education, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She acquired her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong and achieved an overall distinction. Her dissertation, entitled “Discursive Leadership of Anson Chan and Carrie Lam: How do the most “Powerful” Hong Kong Women in Politics Take their Stances?”, was awarded a distinction and published at the HKU Scholars Hub. Her research interests include discourse analysis, Systemic Functional Linguistics and pedagogies in EAP/ESP, discursive leadership, and gender and language.
    Email: lcrolian@ust.hk

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Lee & Yim (2023)

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Published

2023-11-08

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Original Research

How to Cite

Yim, D., & Lee, R. (2023). A comparative study of gender representation in junior high school EFL textbooks of Hong Kong and Japan. Journal of Language Teaching, 3(10), 21-39. https://doi.org/10.54475/jlt.2023.027

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