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Issues of language and gender in second and foreign language education

by Jane Sunderland

2000, Language Teaching

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Lydia Sakwa

2012, Pedagogy, Culture and Society

The central role played by textbooks in children’s education in developing countries has been highlighted previously in this journal. This paper reports on how an English-language textbook used commonly in Ugandan secondary schools reinforces gender stereotypes which are prevalent in society. The paper is based on a mixed-methods investigation of gender representation in English in Use, Book 2 by Grant and Wang’ombe, a textbook recommended by the Ministry of Education for teaching English to students aged 14–15 in Ugandan schools. Documentary analysis elicited the data which were analysed quantitatively using Porecca’s framework for the analysis of English as a Second Language textbooks and then qualitatively using critical discourse analysis. This revealed that positive female role models are under-represented and that the language of the text is not inclusive of females. Lesson observations of two teachers using the textbook, along with follow-up interviews, revealed that they mostly ignored gender issues by dealing with them uncritically, purely as a means of enhancing linguistic skills. We argue that the content of such textbooks, and the way in which they are mediated in the classroom, undermine the Ugandan government’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

The representation of gender in English textbooks in Uganda

Stephanie Vandrick , Angel M. Y. Lin , Ryuko Kubota

2004, TESOL Quarterly

Women Faculty of Color In TESOL: Theorizing Our Lived Experiences

barbara schmenk

2004, TESOL quarterly

(2004) Language learning: A feminine domain? The role of stereotyping in constructing gendered learner identities. TESOL Quarterly 38/3, 514-524.

Jordan Svien

2018, Journal and Proceedings of the Gender Awareness in Language Education Special Interest Group of the Japan Association for Language Teaching, ISSN: 1884-152X

Twentieth century ESL textbooks often suffered from omission of females in multiple contexts, such as lack of female spoken dialogue, lack of female pronouns, or lack of respect for women by positioning them as low status or as the butt of jokes. As awareness of these issues has heightened, many textbook editors have made a stronger effort toward gender egalitarianism in their discourse and visual depictions. This paper critically analyzes Smart Choice Starter, Second Edition (Wilson & Healy, 2011) for its verbal and visual representations of females and males. The author finds that while the text presents a vastly more egalitarian perspective of gender than older textbooks, defining lines between the sexes have yet to be eliminated, and latent biases within the count of visual depictions, occupations, and norm-breaking indicate the text is not yet fully comfortable giving women the equality or individuality that men enjoy.

Toward 21st century egalitarianism: Gender representation in a contemporary EFL textbook

Vasiliki Adampa

Gender and Language Research Group, (1999). "Gender and Genre Bibliography".

Melodie Cook

Gender Bias in ESL/EFL Textbooks: 10 Years later

Baiqiang Tao

Final Tao Baiqiang Identifying and Combating Sexism in EFL Textbooks WIth a Case study in China 2008

Donna Tatsuki

Doing gender and ethnicity : an analysis of ministry of education approved ELT textbooks in Japan and Germany

2007, Online Submission

Research into Sexism in Language Testing & Its Implications to Language Testing in China

Cordelia Fine is currently an ARC Future Fellow in Psychological Sciences and Associate Professor at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne. In this volume, she conducts a wide-ranging, cogent deconstruction of popularly quoted “evidence” for gendered brain differences and untangles their powerful influence. Fine builds a well-scaffolded — and well-documented — overview of “neurosexism,” the latest incarnation of essentialist theorizing.

Review: Delusions of Gender by Dr. Cordelia Fine


Laurel Kamada

2001, On JALT2000

Elementary School EFL in 2002: The Role of Phonics in Achieving Fluency

Allyson Jule

ESL Girls' Silence in Classrooms

Rowshon Ara

The impact of Gender in EFL classroom has always been an issue of discussion. With the difference of social and cultural background, the role of gender differs from nation to nation. In Bangladesh, gender role is defined based on social, cultural, and traditional beliefs. This study is an attempt to find out whether genders of learners as well as genders of teachers create barriers in EFL learning in Bangladesh. In the study a number of 198 students responded to the questionnaires prepared for a survey to find out the impact of gender of students and teachers in EFL classroom. Adding to this, 20 students and 9 teachers from a university further illustrated this issue by participating in semi-structured open ended interviews. The findings of this mixed method study reveal that the socio-culturally defined gender role of male and female in the society impacts inside English as a foreign language class in Bangladesh. Self-efficacy of teachers and learners may help address the issue. In this regard, emphasis may be put on teacher self-efficacy to raise awareness among the teachers and learner self-efficacy to help learners to consciously avoid gender discrimination in classroom at the tertiary level.


Jane Sunderland , Mark McGlashan

This paper examines representations of heteronormativity (and its influence) across several kinds of literature aimed at a child (and sometimes adult) audience, and does so by examining relationships between language and sexuality. The study firstly focuses on the study of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks, giving an overview of research from the literature. The authors look at heteronormativity in these overtly pedagogical texts and consider some implications for textbook writers and analysts when challenging predominantly heteronormative representations of sexu-ality in these texts. The authors then consider representations of sexuality in children's fiction. The prevalence of heteronormativity in the Harry Potter series is considered in relation to broad aspects of identity (gender, sexuality, class). Heteronormativity vis à vis homonormativity is then discussed in relation to the analysis of a large collection of picturebooks featuring same-sex parents, the results of which suggest that, although gay and lesbian parents feature as central characters, the manner of representation largely reflects heteronormative relationships and parenting discourses. The paper concludes by identifying challenges, in particular for EFL textbook writers and publishers. Producers of these texts have to consider a global audience part of whom is likely to reject material that offers alternatives to heteronormativity. The authors suggest strategies that could be used to offer representations of heteronormativity of a 'lesser' degree (such as same-sex friend scenes) that allow for alternative readings.

Heteronormativity in EFL textbooks and in two genres of children's literature (Harry Potter and same-sex parent family picturebooks)

Harold Castaneda-Pena

2008, Signo y Pensamiento

Positioning Masculinity and Femininity in Preschool EFL Education

PROFILE Journal , Claudia Patricia Mojica

Eighteen Colombian English teachers participated in a course with an emphasis on gender and foreign language teaching in a Master’s program in Bogotá. This text describes the design, implementation, and the learning in this educational experience. The analysis of the course was based on a view of learning as a process of participation rooted in the praxis of English teachers’ classrooms. This experience reveals that gender is a relevant category in the frame of English language teacher education as it provides teachers with tools from a broader social and educational perspective. This reflection also leads to implications for teachers’ practices with a gender perspective.

A Learning Experience of the Gender Perspective in English Teaching Contexts

Hikmat Ahmed


Carmen Pérez-Sabater

Recent research on gender issues has highlighted the scarcity of women in technology education. The need to close the gender gap in these university studies has been addressed by administrations and professionals in the field. In this line, this article presents the results of a project carried out in two learning environments: a university ESP course and a general English language class in secondary education. First, in order to observe gender bias, a discourse analysis of textbooks for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) was undertaken, focusing on the specific topics of science and technology to observe the representation of women and sexist language in written discourse. Then, as a speaking exercise, some simulation activities were devised and carried out in the English class aiming at helping students to be aware of gender imbalance in the field of technology. These activities gave rise to a discussion on gender stereotypes in the media as well. The article concludes with the educational value of these learning strategies and their implications for society. The debriefing sessions carried out suggest that the project has served to motivate learners of English and has promoted gender bias awareness in different branches of engineering. The novelty of the project consists in interacting language skills, mainly speaking, with strategies developed to promote the incorporation of females in higher technological education, both in an ESP university course and in secondary education. Keywords: ELT, ESP, technology education, simulation, gender discrimination

Breaking gender stereotypes in technology education: Developing strategies in the English classroom

Mansoor Ahmed Khan

Language and Gender by Jane Sunderland

Matices en Lenguas Extranjeras

The present study analyses gender representations in the dialogues of a textbook of Italian as a foreign language (IFL). While many studies focus on gender representations in textbooks of English as a foreign language, it appears that no studies have been done on these representations in textbooks of IFL. Based on a quantitative discourse analysis of the dialogues in the IFL textbook -number of words, turns, starting and ending sentences, characters, roles, and language functions for female and male characters- a short qualitative interpretation of gender biases is provided. The findings highlight that, despite a balanced character and role distribution between female and male characters, the distribution of words and language functions between the sexes remains biased. In particular, the large use of expressive language functions by female characters reinforces the stereotypical ideas about women as emotional, fragile beings. On the other hand, the directive, informational and phatic language functions performed by male characters depict them as active, more assertive, decision-taking and well-informed. The study presents a discussion on the pedagogical implications that gender-biased representations in textbooks might have on the students’ learning process. In conclusion pedagogical implications of the gender biases in the dialogues analysed in this study can only be predicted. Empirical research in needed to disclose how teachers and students actually address gender biases in foreign language textbooks.

Gender Representations in the Dialogues of a Textbook of Italian as a Foreign Languagex

Fatemeh Esmaeeli

—This study was an attempt to provide a brief synopsis of the literature of CDA; the sketch of which are seven parts: Critical Discourse Analysis: Theoretical Definitions; Major Approaches to CDA; Ideology; Language, Gender and Education; Textbooks; Sexism as well as Experimental Research on Gender in ELT Textbooks. Hence, a general definition and background knowledge of CDA was represented along with the major approaches as well as on the related issues closely related to this study, i.e. ideology, sexism and textbooks as well as Experimental Research on Gender in ELT Textbooks.

A Brief Overview of Critical Discourse Analysis in Relation to Gender Studies in English Language Textbooks

2013, Matices en Lenguas Extranjeras

The present study analyses gender representations in the dialogues of a textbook of Italian as a foreign language (IFL). While many studies focus on gender representations in textbooks of English as a foreign language, it appears that no studies have been done on these representations in textbooks of IFL. Based on a quantitative discourse analysis of the dialogues in the IFL textbook— number of words, turns, starting and ending sentences, characters, roles, and language functions for female and male characters—a short qualitative interpretation of gender biases is provided. The findings highlight that, despite a balanced character and role distribution between female and male characters, the distribution of words and language functions between the sexes remains biased. In particular, the large use of expressive language functions by female characters reinforces the stereotypical ideas about women as emotional, fragile beings. On the other hand, the directive, informational and phatic language functions performed by male characters depict them as active, more assertive, decision-taking and well-informed. The study presents a discussion on the pedagogical implications that gender-biased representations in textbooks might have on the students' learning process. In conclusion, pedagogical implications of the gender biases in the dialogues analysed in this study can only be predicted. Empirical research is needed to disclose how teachers and students actually address gender biases in foreign language textbooks.

Gender Representations in the Dialogs of an Italian as a Foreign Language Textbook Representaciones de género en los diálogos de un libro de texto del italiano como lengua extranjera

Esmat Babaii

Headnote Critical linguistics has been widely influential and successful in documenting the connection of linguistic and social practices. It has the potential to provide a detailed theoretical account of the operation of ideology in all aspects of texts (see, e.g., Hodge and Kress, 1979, 1993; Fairclough, 1985, 1989, 1991, among many others). One such aspect is sexist uses of language in texts. Of course, language (usage) is essentially a neutral vehicle of communication which can be used to convey a range of attitudes and values. However, language (use) plays a major role in strengthening sexist attitudes and values which, it seems to us, is less widely understood and acknowledged. This article examines some of the specific ways in which sexist attitudes and values are conveyed through the language in texts. Though limited to two books and country specific, it deals with the wider issues and problem of sexism in ESL/EFL textbooks, how it is manifested, with what consequences, and how it can be tackled. The findings of this study suggest that there are a number of problem areas in recent ESL/EFL textbooks and that any attempts to force a linguistic change in the absence of its corresponding social change seem to be unworkable and futile. The most satisfactory solution seem to be a critical pedagogy after all: Abstract This study was an attempt to explore the status of sexism in current ESL/EFL textbooks. To this end, two types of analysis were performed to examine the manifestation(s) of sexist attitudes and values in two textbooks (Right Path to English I & II) that are locally designed to cater for and respond to the English language needs of Iranian students at secondary schools. First, a systematic quantitative content analysis was carried out with reference to (a) sex visibility in both texts and illustrations and (b) female/male topic presentation in dialogs and reading passages. Secondly, a qualitative inquiry was made into (a) sex-linked job possibilities, (b) sex-based activity types, (c) stereotyped sex roles (d) firstness and (e) masculine generic conception. Results revealed that Right Path to English I & II can be considered sexist textbooks that present students, in their early exposure to the English language, with an unfair and inexcusable picture of women. It is suggested that this sexism, though embarrassing and undesirable, seems to mirror the institutionalized unfair sex discrimination to the disadvantage of women in society.

Subliminal Sexism in Current ESL/EFL Textbooks

Bhattarachaiyakorn Songwut

2017, The 5th National Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences, the Context and Direction for Thailand 4.0, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ubon Ratchathani Rajabhat University, Thailand, During 31st August – 1st September 2017

This article aimed at investigating the gender representation in the selected EFL textbooks entitled " Project Play & Learn Student's book 6,that has been used in the 6 th grades in Thailand and was approved by the Ministry of Education Thailand in accordance with The Basic Education Core Curriculum B.E. 2551 (A.D. 2008). To the research instrument and data analysis, the quantitative and qualitative ways were employed in this study. Quantitatively, the frequency count of gender occurrence would be implemented to find how often both genders were mentioned in the textbooks which would finally turned to be in a percentage—showing the balance on this issue. Qualitatively, the content analysis—under the mix criterions of gender issues— would be applied to figure out more detailed on those representations obtained from the quantitative way. The study showed that although the females had outnumbered males in several parts, but there were still the implicit meaning showing the female lower status found in the words of several functions such as noun, verb and etc. According to the verbal demonstration (e.g. Noun, Verb, Adjective and Adverb), males are considered in the higher status in several aspects such as the occupation, social roles, activities, places, and additional social roles.


David Carless

ABSTRACT Within the region, a number of countries have viewed the importation of native speakers of English as a means of enhancing English language teaching in schools and promoting internationalization or cultural exchange. In this paper, I make some comparative observations about four such schemes, EPIK (English program in Korea), JET (Japan exchange and teaching program) and from Hong Kong, NET (Native-speaking English teacher) and PSED (Primary school English development).

The Deployment of English Native-Speakers in State Schools: Comparative Perspectives

Ismail S Wekke

This article would investigate the gender representation in English textbooks for MTs Students. In detail, the investigation covered: Gender-biased, gender posistion, authors' understanding, male and female position, the explicitly or implicitly presented the gender representation in the English textbook for MTs students. Critical Multimodal Analysis and Content Analysis Method was used to analyze the data. The results will be expected is to obtain the clear understanding of each aspects regarding to the gender representation in the English textbooks for MTs as the object of the investigated. Furthermore, another result can be summed up is the authors of English for MTs use imageare used inequal or unbalance. In other words, the authors of "English on Sky" Grade VIII for MTs/Junior High School shows that the gender positioning was inequal. In the meantime, the authors use some words to illustrate or depict the gender which are in English textbook "English in Focus", they are adjective, proper name, and pronoun. Based on the result as seen above, the authors of the two English textbooks, not only the authors of English in Focus but also English on Sky have somewhat understanding the gender bias, gender streotype.

Gender Representation in English Textbooks for Islamic Junior High School Students

Miradas Contemporáneas en Educación

This article sets out a Feminist Poststructuralist Discourse Analysis, FPDA, approach to examine gender positioning in an all-girls preschool classroom in Colombia where English is mostly taught/learnt as a foreign language (EFL). After selectively describing findings in the field of gender and young children's language use and concentrating on features of poststructuralism, I move on to briefly sketch FPDA. Then the analysis of an EFL class segment called Talk Circle will be developed. I will posit that the EFL classroom seems to be an environment in which femininities could be constructed and encouraged, or diminished and constrained through the interplay of competing discourses. Finally, I will mention an avenue for further research for those interested in the discursive analysis of gender, early childhood and EFL education using FPDA.

‘The next teacher is going to be… Tereza Rico’: Gender Positioning in an all-girl Preschool Classroom

Arab World English Journal (AWEJ)

Gender discriminatory discourses and practices have been a worldwide concern. The present paper addresses a major feature of gender depiction in the Moroccan English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks officially approved by the Ministry of Education and compulsory for high school students. Adopting a feminist theoretical approach, the study has quantitatively and qualitatively processed the gendered dialogues along with the related illustrations embedded in four EFL Moroccan textbooks, in addition to the gender roles assumed throughout different contexts (occupational/family roles, interests, activities). The textbooks were selected on the basis of their common themes and the different publication dates, starting from 1990 to 2005. The main aim is to see whether the English textbook designers adopt a gender-based approach as a preliminary initiative for pedagogical innovation, or they implicitly and explicitly use them to disseminate discriminatory discourses. The study reveals that women's positive representation is persistently deteriorated in the Moroccan EFL textbooks. This stands against all steps towards pedagogical innovation and reinforces the traditional gender ideology. It suggests the urgent need for more pedagogical improvement at the level of gender representation in the Moroccan EFL textbooks. More importantly, is the need for all teacher training centres to prepare new teacher generations ready to use sexist texts constructively. The results' implication is instrumental to the learning materials' revision. It is also useful for all English language practitioners, textbook designers, and pedagogical experts addressing the challenge of adopting a gender-based approach as a way to open all avenues for pedagogical innovation.

Towards a Zero Tolerance on Gender Bias in the Moroccan EFL Textbooks: Innovation or Deterioration

Michael Ruddick

2010, Niigata University of International and Information Studies Journal of Research No 5

A Gender Analysis of an English Language Textbook Used in a Senior High School in Japan

Dr. Arnel E . Genzola

The use of personal web publishing and social networking tools has been an emerging practice in the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning or CALL (Campbell, 2003). Weblogging, for instance, has already established itself in the popular media. Given its educational affordances, the utilization of weblogs in English Language Teaching (ELT) and English Language Learning (ELL) is deemed indispensable. This paper presents the implementation of weblogging activities in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program of Jilin University—Lambton College in China. Weblogs provide the students with extensive opportunities to put what they are learning in the classroom to use in expressive, interactive, and immersive ways. In addition to reading and writing practice, weblogs allow the learners to share their thoughts and ideas through blog posts made on the forum section and walls wherein the resulting language exchanges expose them to authentic uses of language that supplemented classroom activities and experiences. A convenience sampling from Jilin University—Lambton College (JULC) consisted of 71 Chinese university students from three different EAP classes participated in this exploratory action research based on weblogging experiences for language learning in English. A survey was distributed at the end of the course to all participating students to gather feedback and input on student views in relation to the classroom-blogging activities employed. Findings from an attitudinal survey performed reveal that the students had an exceptionally positive attitude for weblogging. Citation: Genzola, A. E. (2015, December). Weblogs on language learning: A technology-enhanced instruction in a tertiary- level EFL classroom in China. Arab World English Journal, 6(4), 389-407.

Weblogs on Language Learning: A Technology-Enhanced Instruction in a Tertiary-Level EFL Classroom in China

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor , James Coda

Queer theory problematizes societal norms related to sex, gender, and sexuality, while resisting normalcy. The authors utilize a queer theoretical approach in analysis of participant observation in adult Spanish and Mandarin classes as well as interviews with world language teachers. Analysis of interview data reveals how educators and adult language learners experience gender/sexuality norms in conventional classroom and school contexts. Classroom observations and analysis of classroom discourse identify moments when these norms may be “troubled” or upheld in contexts using a progressive new approach called Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS). Findings suggest that the improvisational nature of TPRS raises complex questions about heteronormativity in language learning and the creative work in which educators and students can engage in dialogic classrooms.

Troubling normal in world language education

Roslyn Appleby

2009, Journal and Proceedings of the Gender …

This paper considers the policing of gender as a dimension of English language teachers’ experiences in international development work. I argue that international development zones have tended to reproduce the patriarchal regimes of an earlier colonial era and provide a challenging context for a (mostly) feminised language teaching profession. Just as colonial space, away from the safety of home, was primarily constructed as a domain of masculine endeavour, so too contemporary development missions, particularly in areas designated as politically unstable, produce a masculine domain that marginalises ‘unruly others’ defined by gender and race.

Unruly Others: Language Teachers and the Policing of Gender In International Development

Sumera Umrani

1997, TESOL Quarterly

On the power and status of nonnative ESL teachers

Abdullah Gharbavi

2012, English Linguistics Research

A Content Analysis of Textbooks: Investigating Gender Bias as a Social Prominence in Iranian High School English Textbooks

Amanda Witkowski

JGP Vol 1 No

Alessia Valfredini

Valfredini, A. (2015). Studying the process of writing in a foreign language: An overview of the methods. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 6(5), 907-913

Yiwei Zhang

In this review article on identity, language learning, and social change, we argue that contemporary poststructuralist theories of language, identity, and power offer new perspectives on language learning and teaching, and have been of considerable interest in our field. We first review poststructuralist theories of language, subjectivity, and positioning and explain sociocultural theories of language learning. We then discuss constructs of INVESTMENT and IMAGINED COMMUNITIES/IMAGINED IDENTITIES (Norton Peirce 1995; Norton 1997, 2000, 2001), showing how these have been used by diverse identity researchers. Illustrative examples of studies that investigate how identity categories like race, gender, and sexuality interact with language learning are discussed. Common qualitative research methods used in studies of identity and language learning are presented, and we review the research on identity and language teaching in different regions of the world. We examine how digital technologies may be affecting language learners' identities, and how learner resistance impacts language learning. Recent critiques of research on identity and language learning are explored, and we consider directions for research in an era of increasing globalization. We anticipate that the identities and investments of language learners, as well as their teachers, will continue to generate exciting and innovative research in the future.

State-of-the-Art Article Identity, language learning, and social change

Arab World English Journal ( AWEJ) Vol. 6. No.4 December 2015 Team of this issue Editor Dr. Khairi Al-Zubaidi Associate Editor Dr. Robert Arthur Coté Center for English as Second Language College of Humanities, University of Arizona, USA ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I would like to thank all those who contributed to this volume as reviewers of papers. Without their help and dedication, this volume would have not come to the surface. Among those who contributed were the following: Dr Rachid Agliz Faculty of Letters, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco. Dr. Abdul Hafeed Ali Fakih Department of English, Najran University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dr. Pragasit Sitthitikul Language Institute, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand Dr. Fazee Khalid Almuslimi Sana'a University -Faculty of Education-Yemen Tommy Morgan The American University of Kuwait, Kuwait Dr. Karnedi, M.A. English Language and Literature Department Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Open University of Indonesia Roberto Tomás Ollivier, M.Ed., M.A., CAGS, M.A. Dept. of Language, Literacy & Sociocultural Studies University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA Dr. Hashil Al-Saadi The Language Centre, Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman Dr . Mowaffaq Momani Curriculum Unit , University of Tabuk- Saudi Arabia

Arab World English Journal  6 No 4 2015 full issue..

Mohammad Amouzadeh


Ben Rampton

1997, Tesol Quarterly

The idealised native speaker, reified ethnicities, and classroom realities 1997

Ursula Lanvers

Elitism in language learning in the UK.U. Lanvers (2017). Elitism in language learning in the UK.  In (eds D. Rivers &  K. Kotzmann) Isms in Language Education. Berlin: Mouton De Guyter, p. 50-74.

Judith Abrahami-Einat PhD

1994, PhD thesis

Abstract This ethnographic study exposes hidden, sex differentiated messages conveyed to boys and girls in Israeli Jewish schools. The analysis of classroom interactions, the school culture, school documents, extra curricular activities, and teachers' reflections about sex roles and their pupils' sexuality, all render valuable information about the powerful undercurrents present in the Israeli educational system, that is officially committed to equal opportunities. The observations conducted over a full academic year in three schools, are read within their cultural context. References to those social constructs that both generate the subtle sexist practices observed, and explain their deeper meanings and far reaching implications, make this study significant to the understanding of the specific Israeli scene. In addition, the disparity recorded between the teachers' stated commitment to equality, and their explicit and implicit gendered expectations, suggests a line of enquiry relevant to other educational systems too. The incompatability between traditional Jewish values, social constructs of modern Israel, and recent feminist critique, results in an ambivalent attitude to sex equity. This in turn leads to the resort to the most circuitous manner of preserving traditional values, that actually contradict the egalitarian ethos of each of the schools studied. Hence, the teachers' belief in the complementarity of the sexes, their interest in the pupils' patterns of heterosexual pairing, the insensitivity noted to subtle forms of sex discrimination, to sexual harassment and to double standards in evaluations, all suggest an agenda hidden from the teachers themselves. The gendered interactions and the hidden messages conveyed through them, are most pronounced in extra curricular activities. The conclusion is that whether or not the Israeli national curriculum contains or encourages sexist practices, the schools, in their unique ways, convey traditional messages about sex roles, in extremely subtle manners.


Bonny Norton

In this review article on identity, language learning, and social change, we argue that contemporary poststructuralist theories of language, identity, and power offer new perspectives on language learning and teaching, and have been of considerable interest in our field. We first review poststructuralist theories of language, subjectivity, and positioning and explain sociocultural theories of language learning. We then discuss constructs of INVESTMENT and IMAGINED COMMUNITIES/IMAGINED IDENTITIES (Norton Peirce 1995; Norton 1997, 2000, 2001), showing how these have been used by diverse identity researchers. Illustrative examples of studies that investigate how identity categories like race, gender, and sexuality interact with language learning are discussed. Common qualitative research methods used in studies of identity and language learning are presented, and we review the research on identity and language teaching in different regions of the world. We examine how digital technologies may be affecting language learners’ identities, and how learner resistance impacts language learning. Recent critiques of research on identity and language learning are explored, and we consider directions for research in an era of increasing globalization. We anticipate that the identities and investments of language learners, as well as their teachers,will continue to generate exciting and innovative research in the future.

Identity, language learning, and social change

Bill Templer

The rapidly expanding global profession of TESOL uniquely international in its spread is not immune to ageism especially in emerging patterns of hiring and employment practices in diverse areas of the planet. This paper seeks to spark reflection and dialogue by spotlighting and exploring some of ageism’s distinctive manifestations in the ESL profession and beyond, suggesting a blueprint for action to uncover and reduce it in our workplaces. Moreover, the discussion and analysis of ageism in the English-speaking countries and within the diverse societies where we work–and the related problem of negative attitudes and patronizing or authoritarian behavior toward the young based solely on their age, termed “adultism”–should, I argue below, become part of the array of topics we deal with in our ESL classrooms and syllabi. We need to encourage critical examination of the representation and “imaging” of age in films, the entertainment media and TV, literature, and society. This paper was originally published in TESL Reporter, 36/1, April 2003, 1-22, based at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. It can be accessed here:

Ageism in TEFL: Time for Concerted Action

Cynthia Nelson

1999, TESOL Quarterly

Sexual identities in ESL: Queer theory and classroom inquiry

Diane Hawley Nagatomo

2010, Journal of the Ochanomizu University English …

A Critical Analysis of Gender Representation in an EFL Textbook

Elizabeth Sara Lewis

This article explores a gender-equality postmethod approach to teaching English as a Foreign Language. It describes and analyzes an action research project performed with an EFL class in Italy, in which the students were encouraged to think critically about sexism and English language use.



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  • Published: 19 May 2020

Introduction to Gender in Language Education

  • Handoyo Puji Widodo   ORCID: 1 &
  • Tariq Elyas 1  

Sexuality & Culture volume  24 ,  pages 1019–1027 ( 2020 ) Cite this article

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This introduction to the special issue provides a snapshot of why gender in our lives and in language education matters. We also summarize each of the articles featured in this special issue. Inspired by the growing body of research into gender and language education across the globe, directions for future studies in this area are also highlighted. We contend that any educational practices and artifacts are ideologically and institutionally gender-laden. We hope that this special issue can be the point of departure for exploring more gender issues at different levels of language education (e.g., schools, universities, and virtually-mediated education spaces) in the pursuit of gender responsiveness.

Working on a manuscript?

In our lives, we cannot avoid gender discourses and practices. We normatively think, act, and behave according to our gender roles or identities. For example, it is widely acknowledged that women (girls) are responsible for doing domestic chores (e.g., cooking, cleaning, doing dishes, sweeping) while men (boys) do physically-oriented things, such as gardening, repairing a car, or fixing up a bike. Beyond a male–female gender identity dichotomy, globalized social, cultural, political, and economic changes exert influence upon gender ideologies (ways of thinking, acting, behaving), relationships (social identities), and practices. Equally important, globalized sociocultural, political and economic geographies shape how men (boys) and women (girls) from different ethnic, racial, and religious groups or communities of practice manifest their gender identities as part of fluid social identities (Pavlenko and Piller 2008 ). These geographies also shape or create the privilege and marginalization of particular groups of people or communities of practices within a wider society. In other words, socio-economic conditions, sociocultural norms, values, and ideologies contribute to gendered privilege and marginalization. The following cases show how sociocultural norms and ideologies affect gender roles in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, for example.

In traditional Javanese (a major ethnic group in Indonesia) society where a traditionally patriarchal belief/norm is strongly entrenched, women (girls) have to be able to cook in order to demonstrate their womanly or girly identity. In this societal context, women (girls) have to serve family members or guests, such as preparing foods and serving guests drinks and cookies. This social practice has changed to some extent; men can cook at home, or a man can help his couple or mother prepare food. Another example of how global socio-economic changes affect gender roles that men and women play in contemporary Javanese (Indonesia) is due to gender equity (Setyono 2018 ). For instance, women have a wide range of opportunities to pursue their careers as a pilot, an engineer, or a doctor. This social movement forces labor markets to provide Indonesian citizens with more access to gender-equal occupations. In another socio-economic context, women may have to play a role as breadwinners in order to support family economy, share family’s financial responsibilities, or to improve the quality of life in terms of education and health, for instance.

Traditional Saudi society is not much different from its Javanese counterparts. Historically, Saudi women (girls) have been portrayed as being domestic queens (Goddess), and men (boys) have been socially assigned as providers and protectors (Titans) of the family. The identity of Saudi women (girls) is situated in a private sphere (e.g., staying at home, doing domestic chores) while the identity of Saudi men (boys) are socio-spatially connected to a public sphere (e.g., hanging out with other men). But, social roles and customs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its 2030 vision are changing, and gender roles are being revisited. Gender equity and equality rights in all aspects of everyday lives are commonly practiced. Over the last 50 years, Saudi women’s position has changed significantly in many cases (Elyas et al. 2020 ). For instance, there have been increased opportunities for women to pursue education and employment due to Saudi Arabia’s social development. New educational institutions have been established for females. Women (girls) have the equal opportunity to take such majors as engineering, media studies, sciences, and several vocational courses. In the field of employment, Saudi women can serve as deans of colleges, CEOs of banks, IT specialists, doctors, photographers, and journalists among others. Saudi women have also experienced a great improvement in terms of their social rights. In 2011, King Abdullah proclaimed that women would be nominated to Majlis Al-Shura ‘consultative council.’ Later in 2018, King Salman announced a decree that lifted the ban on women driving and permitted females to apply for driving licenses (Elyas and AlJabri 2020 ). This showcases the manifestation of gender equality in the Saudi context.

Following critical linguists (e.g., Appleby 2009 ; Cameron 2005 ; Pavlenko and Piller 2008 ; Sunderland 2000 ), we posit that gender should be viewed as a socially modulated and dynamic system of power relations and ideologically discursive practice. This suggests that women (girls) and men (boys) play uniquely different gender roles. Throughout history, society and particular communities of practice have shaped how individuals should think, act, and behave according to their gender role and identity. They serve as social agents of imposing a variety of gendering practices and ideologies about normative ways of being men (boys) and women (girls). Against this backdrop, we would like to bring up the issue of gender in language education in order to continue scholarly dialog and discussion about gender representation (identity) and genderness discourses and practices in the language education domain.

Gender in Language Education

We contend that gender representation, identities, discourses, and practices are shaped or constructed by particular sociocultural norms and ideologies intertwined with other ideologies, such as socio-institutional ideology, political ideology, religious ideology, racial ideology, socio-economic ideology, and power relations. These dimensions make gendered discourse and practices and a line of inquiry into gender in language education more dynamic, fluid, and complex. In other words, they contribute to (re)constructing genderness in language education from a critical perspective. Therefore, gender in language education should be viewed as two entities: a site of social practice and a line of critical inquiry.

Gender discourses and practices are inevitably inherent in the educational territory in general and in language education in particular. We define language education as an institutional space and discourse that embraces four educational practices: (1) language education policy and planning, (2) language education curricula, (3) language pedagogy and instruction, and (4) language education assessment and testing. We argue that social actors at different levels of education from primary education to tertiary education play a pivotal role in canalizing or imposing particular values (gender-related values: gender equality and gender responsiveness) through educational practices and documents (Ariyanto 2018 ; Sulaimani and Elyas 2018 ; Widodo 2018 ). Schools and universities are regarded as educational spaces that canalize or instil particular gender-related values due possibly to political, economic, and social forces in society and particular communities of practice. In practice, both teachers and students are producers and consumers of gendered texts that represent gendered identities, discourses, and practices.

Inadvertently or advertently, the issues of gender and genderness have seeped into educational territories, discourses, and practices. For example, policy makers may promote the inclusion of gender equity or equality in language education policy and planning documents. Language curriculum designers may put emphasis on gender issues when designing curriculum documents, such as syllabi, lesson plans, and textbooks. At a pedagogical level, teachers and teacher educators may teach gender issues in order to build a self-awareness of gender responsiveness. Another example of gender responsiveness is the use of gender-neutral language or texts in classroom interactions. Therefore, it is a must for policy makers, curriculum developers, materials writers, teachers, teacher educators, and students to build and enhance their critical awareness of gender-related issues, such as gender responsiveness, gender mainstreaming, gender (in)equality, and gender stereotyping. This is because teachers and teacher educators not only teach language knowledge, skills, and attitudes, but they also build students’ critical awareness of particular values, such as moral values, cultural values, and gender-related values (Widodo et al. 2018 ). We are fully aware that whether such values may be prioritized depends on socio-institutional contexts because different countries place emphasis on particular gender-related issues, such as gender (in)equality.

Gender in language education has been a field of critical interdisciplinary inquiry. Over the past few decades, there has been a steadily growing body of research on gender and language education (Rowlett and King 2017 ). In some literature, in this research area, work on sexuality and language education has burgeoned. Two approaches, the discourse turn in language studies and the performative turn in gender studies to gender and sexuality in language education have informed studies into gender and sexuality in language education (Menard-Warwick et al. 2014 ). So far, there has been a myriad of studies into (1) gender identities and language learning situated in language classrooms and educational institutions; (2) narratives of the impact of gender and sexual identity positions upon learners’ investments and agency in second language learning; and (3) the gendered experiences of teachers in the language teaching profession (Rowlett and King 2017 ). To continue this line of critical inquiry into gender in language education, this special issue presents what current research tells us.

What Current Empirical Research into Gender and Language Education Tells the Reader

This special issue features eight original articles written by emerging and well-established scholars from different countries, such as Australia, the USA, Thailand, Ghana, Hong Kong, Iran, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam (the Philippines), and Saudi Arabia. This suggests that the special issue has successfully created scholarly discussion and debates among scholars from different geographical areas. We hope that this geographical diversity can help see diversity in views, perspectives, and ideas that enlighten us about the manifestation of gender in language education.

The contributors of this special issue reported findings that cast some light on gender issues drawing on ethnographic and single case studies, narrative inquiry, and critical discourse studies. Two articles address how gender identities affect language learning and classroom interactions and position learners in different ways together with other social identities and the discourses that surround them. Other two articles underscore the construction of teacher identities (professional identity and gender-fair language use) in the educational territory. Four articles report findings (gender representation in language textbooks and test papers) informed by critical discourse studies. In other words, the eight articles collected in this special issue attempt to contribute to a growing body of research into gender and language education.

To begin with, in Age, Gender, and Language Teacher Identity in Higher Education , Sarah Mason & Alice Chik report a narrative study that examined the social construction of Japanese university teacher identities. This narrative study looks particularly into how Japanese university teachers’ gender identities affected the enactment of their age identities. Drawing on in-depth interview data, Mason and Chik found that the male and female university teachers constructed their age identities differently, but the female teachers felt disadvantaged as faculty members throughout their professional lives.

In their article, Understanding Immigrant Youths’ Negotiation of Racialized Masculinities in One U.S. High School , Kongji Qin and Guofang Li present an ethnographic case study of three immigrant boys’ negotiation of racialized masculinities and its impact on their language learning in one U.S. ESL classroom. Grounded in intersectionality and critical race theory, the findings revealed that the immigrant boys connected their masculinity to negotiation of hyphenated selves in complex transnational and transcultural spaces where their gender identities were intersectionally constructed by racism (racialization), linguicism, homophobia, and heteronormativity that impacted upon the participants’ language learning.

In response to contextually-undertheorized research on queer teachers and LGBT rights and policies, Hai Lin, Wannapa Trakulkasemsuk, and Pattamawan Zilli ( When Queer Meets Teacher ) reports a narrative study of a non-local English teacher working in a Thai university. Based on a life history interview, Lin, Trakulkasemsuk, and Zilli examine the construction of queer self as a professional language teacher. They reported that the participant demonstrated a socially fluid queer identity which was not affected by the dominant discourse of heteronormativity. This empirical evidence suggests that a queer teacher is a professional agent since the discourse of queer as professional is (re)constructed and normalized at work.

To continue empirical scholarship into the use of anti-sexist language, in her article, Exploring the Adoption of gender-fair Spanish alternatives in School domains , Benedicta Lomotey examines the usage of gender-fair language among the members of the academic community situated in the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language at a Ghanaian public university. Informed by a corpus and discourse analysis of audio recorded classroom lessons, examination papers, WhatsApp chats and electronic messages, Lomotey found that the majority of the participants for both the native and non-native participants had similar opinions on the issues of sex-exclusiveness and invisibility, but they had opposing opinions regarding the charge for gender inequity or gender imbalance.

A study by Jackie Lee and Vahid Mahmoudi-Gahrouei ( Gender Representation in Instructional Materials ) looks into how gender is represented in the “English for School Series, Prospect”, newly published by the Iranian Ministry of Education. The findings showed that the textbook authors demonstrated some gender consciousness, such as the use of gender-neutral vocabulary and fair distribution of male and female dialogue texts despite the prevalence of low female visibility due to the inclusion of the Islamic culture of male predominance. Drawing on interviews with school teachers, Lee and Mahmoudi-Gahrouei showed that the school teachers encouraged textbook revision or change in order to promote gender equality in education.

To respond to under-explored scholarship into gender representation in assessment papers, in their article, An Analysis of Gender Representation in Territory-wide System Assessment English Language Papers for Primary School Students in Hong Kong , Chi Cheung Ruby Yang and Tsoi Lam Yan investigate how males and females are represented in Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA), a territory-level assessment administered in Hong Kong. The data of this study showed that males and females are equally represented in the written texts and in the visuals. The textual analysis revealed that females are depicted as involving in occupational roles more visibly than their male counterparts in both the written texts and the visuals. Despite this, females are portrayed as being responsible for family matters, and the marital status of females is still differentiated by the use of either Miss or Mrs.

In the similar vein, Reni Lestariyana, Handoyo Widodo, and Urip Sulistiyo ( Female Representation in Mandated English Language Textbooks Used in Indonesian Junior High Schools ) examine two government-mandated language teaching textbooks used in Indonesian junior schools. They explore the representation of female characters in the textbooks situated in such social contexts as family, occupations, school participation and achievement, and hobbies and interests. They found that to some extent, the textbook authors showed their gender responsiveness (e.g., women are socially assigned as a career woman (surgeon) while they still promote the traditionally patriarchal belief (e.g., females take a traditionally feminine communal role). Lestariyana, Widodo, and Sulistiyo also found that female-dominated stereotypes in the areas of school participation and achievement as well as hobbies still exist in the textbooks.

In their article, Gender (In)equality in English Textbooks in the Philippines , Eulalia Curaming and Rommel Curaming investigate the representations of gender relations in a popular English textbook series used in primary schools in the Philippines, which is a highly-ranked country in global gender equality indices. They found that the persistence of male dominance still exists in the textbook. This may reflect the enduring gender gap in the country, especially in economic and political domains. This empirical indicates that gender inequality is still deeply rooted in language education in a highly-ranked country in global gender equality indices.

It is important to emphasize that the inquiry of gender issues in foreign and second language education (e.g., English and Spanish) is important in order to interrogate whether particular foreign and second language curriculum practices (e.g., teaching and assessment) impose particular ideological values, such as gender responsiveness or gender stereotyping of which both teachers and learners may be unaware. In most cases, foreign and second languages can be an institutionalized agent of reinforcing what gender-related values society holds. For example, the value of being responsible for household chores or the patriarchal belief (men as breadwinners and women as homemakers) is reinforced in Indonesian English textbooks although native speakers of English in Anglophone contexts and other English-speaking countries may not believe in nor hold this belief. Another reason for addressing gender in foreign and second language education is that any language cannot be divorced from genderness and culture. For example, both German and Arabic are influenced by gender-laden use of language. As another example, international textbook writers may portray women as working individuals who are not obliged to perform household chores. In high culture contexts, such as in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, although women pursue their career, they have to carry out household chores, such as doing a laundry/dishes and cooking. In other words, foreign and second language education can play an agentive role in reinforcing or imposing particular ideological values, such as gender-laden values. This because foreign and second language education not only equip learners with language knowledge and skills but also help them build or enhance their awareness of particular values.

Directions for Future Scholarship and Research into Gender and Language Education

We acknowledge that this special issue includes limited research into gender and language education. It is important to set out more research agendas in this research area. More critical ethnographic case studies should be undertaken to investigate educational practices and documents that showcase gender identities and representation(s). There should be more critical discourse studies informed by critical interdisciplinary theories that examine gender representation in language curriculum documents and textbooks as well as assessment documents at primary, secondary, and tertiary education levels. Classroom-based studies will need to be carried out in order to examine how students work on gendered texts and how teachers talk about gender issues in language classrooms or virtually-mediated learning spaces. More empirical research agendas should be geared towards documenting teacher-student and student–student interactions as they reflect gender discourses and identities. There should be empirical reports on innovative ways of integrating critical understandings of gender into language education.

As the contributors of this special issue recommend, more gender research into age and identity among professional teachers/practitioners should be undertaken because age and gender identity contribute to the construction of gendered and racialized professional identity among female and male professionals in the educational territory. More applications of rigorous and fresh theories (e.g., intersectionality and critical race theory) should be adopted to examine the complexity and intersectionality of immigrant/transnational youth’s masculinity/femininity negotiation by considering racism, homophobia and linguicism. In terms of textbook evaluation, although there is still a long journey to reform school textbooks to establish egalitarian gender norms (gender responsiveness), there should be intervention-based studies that can help school and university teachers build and enhance their critical awareness of gender issues because they play a more active role in the promotion of gender equality, sensitivity, and responsiveness among the younger generation. This kind of research can be directed to provide pedagogical interventions to equip textbook writers and school teachers as agents of change with critical gender knowledge and skills. As Chi Cheung Ruby Yang and Tsoi Lam Yan suggest in this special issue, critical investigation into language testing documents which remain rare will need to be undertaken.

Closing Remarks

The articles featured in this special issue explore some of the myriad ways how gender representation, discourses, and practices are manifested in language education. Together, they offer insightful directions for research interrogating the link between gender and language education because language education discourses and practices cannot be divorced from gender issues. Gender issues in language education are interesting to discuss and investigate. We hope that this collection could be a catalyst for continuing critical scholarship and research into gender in language education. We hope that more studies will report gender issues in less-taught foreign and local or indigenous languages in different contexts. We hope that readers find the eight articles featured in this special issue as engaging and thoughtful as we do. It is our sincerest hope that critical scholars will pave new avenues for scholarship on gender and language education.

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The main objective of this paper is to explore the learning strategies of male and female students and to discuss those strategies in relation to gender differences. This research was conducted in one senior high school in Makassar, Indonesia. The number of respondents was 71 students taken randomly by using Slovin formula among 250 students. The study used quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data were collected by using a questionnaire of SILL whereas the qualitative data were taken by using interview. The learning strategies were discussed based on Oxford’s learning strategies (1990) whereas the notion of gender differences in relation to learning strategies was discussed in the framework of gender differences in communication proposed by Lakoff (1975, 1976) and (Tannen, 1990, 1994). Findings from the questionnaire show that female students use cognitive, compensation, and affective strategy more often compared to male students while male students use memory, metacognitive, and social strategy more often compared to female students. Findings from the interview show that female and male students chose different learning strategies. In addition, those learning strategies were influenced by the notion of gender differences in communication. These findings significantly give beneficial inputs to the process of English language teaching in order to create effective teaching and classroom interaction. It also provides significant contribution to the study on language and gender in communication in a setting of education and language teaching.

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