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Social power and cultural identity in Moroccan high school Gateway to English 2 Textbook
ACADEMIC YEAR: 2018/2019
Critical discrouse analyses is a suitable method I used to examine how social power and cultural identy are misrepresented in Gateway to English textbook in Morocco, it is a textbook for teaching English as a foreign language. Moroccan students start learning Arabic and French from primary school to high and professional studies, while they don’t start learning English until the third year in middle school or in high school in some regions, this variety of languages and their mother tongue( Moroccan Arabic or Berber) entail different cultural perspectives and political guidelines to project student’s orientations and national red lines to respect since school is regarded as an area for national identities by using pedagogical implementations. The ideology of langue and the language of ideology exhibit the social and functional objectives of education and schooling, According to Tajima (2011), ‘‘schooling is never neutral; it promotes and protects the orientations of those in power since they supervise and control what is being taught’’. In addition, the curriculum mustn’t be a way to convey social inequality and male or female domination in a certain society, but rather a suitable vehicle to promote social democracy and justice between all the various religious and ethnic groups in one nation. However, some authors like (Canagarajag, 1993 & 1999) claimed that’’ textbooks are often used to dominate and orient students thoughts since they are the future youth. ‘’
Language is a powerful tool that is used first by all people for the purpose of communication, understanding, and discovering new cultures and participate in the socioeconomic and political dimensions worldwide. Language enables people to shape their thoughts and express their identity. It can be used also to propagate ideologies of the state, enslave and dominate a certain targeted group in society by media or curriculum syllabi that can be hidden implicitly or explicitly.
In this field, the curriculum can be a vehicle that people in power use to address and convey political, religious and ideological ideas that serve their agenda. On the contrary, the textbook is a mirror of society that represents the whole society including their cultural, religious and cultural identity. I think that when a student sees himself or herself in a curriculum they will feel that they are valued and then get the self belonging, regardless their color, race or gender. The democracy and equality students find in the curriculum is a small image of the desired democratic society and equal rights.
It is very important to note that the content of Gateway to English textbook reflects the perspectives of a minority in society and doesn’t mirror all society, it contains a lot of images of gender inequality and embedded political voting which is I think not neutral. However, the curriculum designers should take teachers’ and students attitudes into consideration to decide which suitable textbook and content to use, to learn the language and the culture of its natives rather than learning about some aspects of Moroccan culture, identity and women in power , this theme of women and power was repeated many times apart from a unit ( unit 4 in gateway textbook) chosen to glorify certain women in history and neglect the majority of women who are illiterate and face difficulties of poverty and domestic violence from their husbands.
Research question ?To what extent are social power and cultural identity misrepresented in Moroccan high school textbook in teaching English as a foreign language?
1-Literature review
Galtung “1980. 107” declares that ‘’ language is a means of imperialism’’. Language and textbooks play a vital role to mirror the ideology and guidelines of policy makers. Karl Marx (1818.83) states that ‘’ Ideology determines the outlook of people, their beliefs and values of dominant class in society’’
In Moroccan textbook Gateway to English 2 there is an explicit misrepresentation of social identity in terms of gender inequality. Moroccan women were connected to illiteracy and low positions in society “staying home learning how to read and write, and raising children”.
The aim of this research is to investigate the misrepresentation of social power and cultural identity in terms of gender used in Gateway to English 2 .And is doing I consider Furlough’s ( 1989 -2013) approach to critical discourse analysis as a suitable approach to conduct this research , because it helps to interpret, analyze and investigate how gender role, political power, are misrepresented
2-Research methodology
A- This research will be investigated through Fairclough?s (2003) model, Critical Discourse Analysis to analyze the data including written and visual texts and pictures of Gateway to English 2 units: 1: (Formal, informal and non-formal education) 2: (cultural issues and values) 3: (Gifts of youth) 4: (Women and power)
The sample is the student’s book of Gateway to English for second baccalaureate students, which was approved by the Moroccan ministry of education, it has been used since 2007-2008. The textbook focuses on Standards based approach.
C-Research instruments
The data will be analyzed through different disciplines as critical literacy, critical pedagogy, critical race theory studies highlighted by the three stages of Fairclough’s (1989 & 2013) approach to critical discourse analysis : description, interpretation, and explanation.
3-Results and discussion
The findings were divided into three stages or subsections drawn on Firclough ( 1989-2013), the three stages are ? Description and interpretation- explanation.
Misrepresentation of Moroccan women in Gtaeway to English textbook
1- Women literacy
In unit 2, Moroccan women were misrepresented in visual images and also in written texts, which show the abundance of aspects of cultural identity were embedded in the textbook that present male characters differently. The following images revealed some of these aspects?
The image includes literary classes for women only with no good conditions of learning. It shows a misrepresentation of many literate women in Morocco, who achieved high position in the country in all domains of life, inside and outside home, at school, in parliament… It is true that women in Africa used to suffer a lot emotionally and physically, but things have changed positively.
In this image we can see six Moroccan women wearing cheap clothes, and reading in books to fight illiteracy, and a woman maybe their teacher who stood up to guide and teach them. Accordingly, The absence of a similar image that include male characters learning under these conditions and having literacy classes make the syllabus designer unjust and present a picture of bias in social culture and social identity in terms of gender.However, male characters were presented as a symbol of hope, future horizons and stability.The four units contain many other aspects illiteracy fact related tom female characters, as it is revealed in
the following texts, when two women present themselves, first woman from Mali and other one from India?
The two women have never attended school in their past, Fatma from Mali is 30 and she has never been to school, but she is motivated to learn,” I’m impatient to learn how to use a computer”. Bandhura from India said she is illiterate “ I’ve never been to school”
In reality, the issue of illiteracy was connected to women, which is a misrepresentation of many educated and cultivated women in society in the past and present. Women were and are doctors, teachers, policy makers, mothers… they are one of the most important pillars of society, which deserves to be as equal as man. These images stand for women’s subordination and male domination in society that have been removed lately due to the development and voices of women’s rights and human rights.
In addition, I counted the frequency of presence of male characters and female characters in both visual image and written texts to show how social power and social identity were discursively represented in in units 1,2,3,4, the masculine names and pronouns were counted one time in each passage. The analyses show that visual images in the four units that include human beings have 136 males out of 228, while 92 were images of females. The analysis revealed also that masculine names and pronouns were mentioned 57 times, but females were 54 times.
Inclusion and exclusion in the political life? The analysis revealed that male characters were consistently represented in politics related images, while females were excluded from political aspects and participation in voting, and this shown on page 41 in unit 3.
The image reflects lack of woman’s participation in politics and her underrepresentation in decision making. This is truly because of many social, religious and economic reasons. Accordingly, women represent a high percentage in society which means that their voice should be heard, and the demand for their participation in decision making is a must.
Interpretation- explanation
In this section, I examine how political power and social identity were represented in Gateway to English, and the political and cultural messages embedded in this textbook. In this field, the publishers tend to be more aware of some stereotypes against women, bias and social equality and sexism ( Amini and Birjandi ( 2018)
Fairclough (1989-2013) argued that teachers work to enhance “students’ “ critical language awareness”, this is clearly seen in a text that talks about young people engagement in politics( unit 3 page 40), which unconsciously produce and urge students to vote.Hence, Janks, 2016, Lewison 2015 believed that teachers use the critical language awareness by implementing critical literacy in order to teach students effective critical thinking .
I believe that the connectivity of women to illiteracy in many visual and written texts produce an image of bias and might somehow affect female students future horizons. It is very significant to note thtat, a student should see himself or herself in the curriculum, which is a mirror of society and a small democratic window for student to build democracy and social justice. A textbook should be excluded from all aspects of racism, sexism, dominance and social unjustice.However, the social power that serves western secularism and critical feminism was present abundantly in the four units.The publishers of this textbook implemented many messages in the overt and hidden curriculum to promote and make students vote in elections “especially that students are aged between 17 and 18 years old”, but on the contrary, disassociating them from critical literacy participation, and this is what Harney 2015) and Apple (2014) argued” The restoration and reconstruction of the rightist politics of official konledge in school curriculum are powerful mechanisms to produce their dominance”
The analyses and findings answered the research question that guided it (To what extent are social power and cultural identity misrepresented in Moroccan high school textbook in teaching English as a foreign language?). The findings revealed that Gateway to English 2 textbook misrepresented Moroccan woman in terms of literacy, knowledge and social position in Moroccan society. However, Morocco has witnessed a huge development in promoting and defending women’s rights that are human rights for once and all.Most of women are no longer illiterate, they participate in the political, economic, religious, social and occupational roles.
Allen, R. L. (2006). The race problem in the critical pedagogy community. In C. A. Rossatto, R. L. Allen, & M. Pruyn (Eds.), Reinventing critical pedagogy (p. 3-20). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC.
Anyon, J. (1997). Ghetto schooling: A political economy of urban educational reform. New York: Teachers College Press.
Anyon, J. (2011). Marx and education. New York: Routledge.
Apple, M. W. & Christian-Smith, L. K. (1991). The politics of the textbook. New York: Routledge.
Riches, D. (1999) Problems of content specificity in ELT textbooks: A critical discourse analysis of ELT textbooks. Retrieved from

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