Conflicting understandings of multicultural society, global world, and English: Multimodal content analysis of 5 Korean elementary EFL textbooks


Secondary and Middle Grades Education

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World Languages and Cultures

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In response to becoming a more multicultural society, the South Korean Ministry of Education has implemented a multicultural education policy since 2006 by promoting English as key for young learners’ communicative competence in a global world. Despite numerous previous studies on government-led curriculum and textbooks for English as a foreign language (EFL) across many countries, little attention has been given to the cultural and linguistic aspects of primary-level EFL textbooks. Within the framework of intercultural communicative competence (ICC), this study investigated multicultural understandings, social values, and beliefs embedded in the reading passages of five Korean Grade 6 EFL textbooks. By employing multimodal content analysis, it also scrutinized what messages and meanings are constructed with semiotic devices and the extent of the textbooks to foster EFL students’ ICC. Findings revealed that the textbooks (re)produce national pride and otherness and promote the idea of English for a White global world. The lack of interactive communication events in diverse settings was also found problematic in developing students’ new identities as global citizens. The study argues for critical approaches to multicultural education and intercultural development in EFL education by reconceptualizing English as a mediator for developing intercultural contact with diverse others.

Journal Title

Critical Inquiry in Language Studies

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)