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Gender bias in English textbooks in Vietnam: Textbook representations, teacher perspectives, and classroom practices
Umeå universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för språkstudier.ORCID-id: 0000-0003-1001-6156
Vietnam National University, ULIS.
2020 (Engelska)Rapport (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

How stereotyped gender-specific expectations and norms are depicted in teaching materials may negatively influence students’ development and even contribute to social inequalities. In Vietnam, an inclusive growth that ensures girls’ and women’s rights to equal access to resources and services remains a challenge for the country – a Confucian-heritage society that values patriarchal traditions. 

This project critically investigates if and how gender bias is presented in English textbooks in Vietnam, and how it is interpreted and practised by teachers in the classroom. How is gender represented in the English textbooks? How do teachers interpret gender-sensitive content as presented in the textbooks and how do they respond to it in their teaching practices? 

Holding gender to be a social construct, which means women’s and men’s behaviour is influenced by social-cultural environment with its ideologies, perceptions and power hierarchy and distribution, the research uses critical discourse analysis to create a “productive suspicion” of text interpretation, asking questions about our notions of gender to examine how or when the feminine or masculine is constructed as powerful, to explore genderedness. A multimodal critical qualitative analysis, combined with analyses of quantitative traditions, was employed. The textbooks analysed are a newly published English textbook series for lower secondary education English 6English 7English 8, and English 9 currently in use in junior secondary schools in Vietnam. This series of English textbooks is part of Vietnam’s ongoing National Foreign Languages Project (NFL Project), Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training. The project also studies the interaction between textbooks and teaching by conducting classroom research. Teaching observation and teacher interview were selected as the methods to investigate classroom interpretation of textbook gender-related content. 

The results suggest that the depiction of gender in the textbooks, though starting to provide girls with more life opportunities, is still affected by gender norms and bias. Males not only inhabit bigger verbal space, they are also depicted as having more social properties than females: They have better knowledge, are more socially influential, enjoy higher status in both occupational roles and domestic roles, receive more opportunities, and aim for more ambitious goals. In contrast, although girls are seen as participating on more or less equal terms in some specific areas, they are portrayed as less independent; their choices are more limited, and they seem to receive less development resources than boys. The interview with the textbook authors shows although some efforts were made to ensure an equal presence of female and male characters, gender was not a priority during the textbook writing. Field observations of school English lessons reveal that teachers are not quite sensitive to possible gender issues in the textbooks and in the classroom. Gender content is largely absent from classroom discourse, as teachers prioritise covering and “transferring” textbook contents – mostly in terms of linguistic knowledge. In many cases, teachers’ teaching design and interaction are found to be affected by their own gender bias – both conscious and unconscious. However, textbook authors and teachers all agreed that gender equality is important in society and education, though breaking traditional norms can be difficult. 

The study raises questions on the possibility of challenging social norms and stereotypes against women, and, at the same time, creating a new culture narrative in which women’s agency is better recognised and enacted. The research helps increase the awareness of gender equality among societal community and professional groups (textbook writers, teachers, students, etc.) and enable them to recognise gender bias to respond to its challenge. Basing on the results, three main areas to respond to gender inequality are suggested: awareness raising, capacity building, and behaviour change. The current efforts towards gender equality are acknowledged, but better progress needs to be made so that girls’ and women’s empowerment is realised now and in the future.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2020. , s. 54
Nyckelord [en]
gender bias, textbook analysis, teacher knowledge, multimodal critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis, classroom research, observation, interview, English, lower secondary education, Vietnam
Nationell ämneskategori
Jämförande språkvetenskap och allmän lingvistik Pedagogik Genusstudier
Forskningsämne
pedagogik; engelska; genusvetenskap
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-176400OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-176400DiVA, id: diva2:1495056
Anmärkning

National Geographic Society Research Grant No. HJ-127EE-17

Tillgänglig från: 2020-11-04 Skapad: 2020-11-04 Senast uppdaterad: 2020-11-04Bibliografiskt granskad

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