ENGLISH IN IRAN: CULTURAL REPRESENETATION IN ENGLISH TEXTBOOKS
This investigation into the status of English in Iran and cultural presentations in Iranian English has two areas of emphasis. The first is a sociolinguistic profile of English in Iran in which the status, functions, uses and users of this language are described within in the country’s social and political contexts. In this part, contributing factors to the growth of English in three political periods, including the Qajar dynasty (1796 -1925), the Pahlavi era (1925-1979) and post-Revolutionary time (1979 – present), are elaborated upon to establish the historical and political bases for the second area of focus.
The second focus is the cultural content in the locally developed English textbooks used from 1939 to the present time (2020). Accordingly, the content of four generations (across five textbook series) of Iranian high school English textbooks are analyzed based on an evaluation scheme which the author has developed. This research finds answers to the questions on the status of culture in the Iranian English textbooks; distribution of Iranian and non-Iranian cultures; dominance of cultural elements (products, practices and perspectives) in each English textbooks series; and the political and ideological influence of each era on the content of English textbooks.
This investigation finds that the English textbooks which were developed before the Islamic Revolution (first and second generations) were highly cultural compared to the post-Revolution materials (third and fourth generations). Also, non-Iranian cultural components (particularly the American and British cultures) were more represented in the English textbooks of the Pahlavi period, whereas Western cultures were all eliminated in the post-Revolution textbooks, replaced by the Islamic/Revolutionary cultures. Additionally, cultural perspectives outnumbered cultural products and practices in the first and second generations of English textbooks (Pahlavi era) whereas cultural products dominated the post-Revolutionary English materials. This study finds that political and ideological hegemony of each era have directly influenced the textual and illustrative content of locally developed English textbooks in Iran.