Traces of Linguistic Imperialism Enacted through Discursive Strategies in ELT Textbooks in Indonesia

Ahmad Budairi


Although in many educational contexts textbooks serve as the backbone of teaching, providing practical guides for teachers as well as useful references for learning progress, they could also serve as a site of struggle for many competing discourses. ELT textbooks bear particular relevance here, as they place English at the center of prominence while serving as a medium for knowledge transmission. This paper reports on part of the findings of a case study examining the exercise of dominant discourses in two ELT textbooks for high school in Indonesia. The analysis revealed that there are imbalanced power relations—enacted through such discursive strategies as foregrounding,, backgrounding and framing in two areas: topics and visuals. These strategies were understood as part of the author’s attempt to preserve the hegemonic status of English and its associated dominant ideology in ways that reflect traces of linguistic imperialism. With regard to the pedagogical value of the textbooks, this paper offers some suggestions on how the textbooks could be more engaging and culturally sensitive towards learners’ socio cultural context. The discussion concludes with an appeal for more balanced representation between the discourse of the third world and that of Britain in ELT textbooks in Indonesia.


Critical Discourse Analysis, power relations, discursive strategies, power in discourse

Full Text:



Apple, M.W. (1992). The text and cultural politics, Educational Researcher, 21, pp. 4-19.

Allwright, R. (1981). What do we want teaching materials for? ELTJ, 36(1), pp. 5-18.

Bao, D. (2016). Improvement in today’s ELT materials development. In Azarnoosh, M, Zeraatpishe, M, Faravani, A, &Kargozari, H.R (Eds) Issues in material development.pp.193-205. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Bao, D. (2006). Developing materials for local markets: Issues and considerations. In J. Mukundan (ed.) Readings on materials IIpp.52-76. Selangor: Pearson Longman.

Edge, J. & Wharton, S. (1998). Autonomy and development: living in the materials world. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Materials development in language teaching. pp. 295-310. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis. London: Longman

Freeman, D. (2014) Reading comprehension questions: The distribution of different types in global

EFL textbooks. In English language teaching textbooks: Content, consumption,production.

pp.72-110. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Huckin, T.N. (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In T. Miller (Ed.) Functional approaches to written

texts: classroom applications.pp.78-92. Washington, D.C.: United States Information Agency.

Luke. A. (1988). Literacy, Textbooks and Ideology: postwar literacy instruction and the mythology of

Dick and Jane. Cambridge: PolityPress

McGrath, I. (2002). Materials Evaluation and Design for Language Teaching. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Pennycook, A. (1994). The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language. Essex:


Street, B. (Ed.) (1993). Cross cultural approaches to literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University


Sheldon, L. (1988). Evaluating ELT textbooks and materials.ELTJ, 42(4), pp. 237-46

Tomlinson, B., Dat, B., Masuhara, H. and Rubdy, R. (2001). EFL courses for adults. ELT Journal,55(1), pp. 801-101.

Tomlinson, B. (2008). English language learning materials: A critical review. London, UK: Continuum.

Ur, P. (1996). A course in language teaching: Practice and theory. Cambridge: CUP.

vanDijk, T.A. (2001). Critical discourse analysis. In D.Tannen, D. Schiffrin& H. Hamilton (Eds.), Handbook of Discourse Analysis. pp. 352-371. Oxford: Blackwell

Williams, R. (1989). Hegemony and the selective tradition. In S.C. De Castell, A. Luke & C. Luke (Eds) Language, authority and criticism: readings on the school textbooks. pp. 56-60. London: Falmer Press



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Ahmad Budairi

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

English Language Teaching Educational Journal
Kampus 4 Universitas Ahmad Dahlan
Jl. Ringroad Selatan, Tamanan, Bantul, Yogyakarta

e-ISSN: 2621-6485


View My Stats