A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF CULTURAL ISSUES ON AMERICAN AND IRANIAN ESL STUDENT BOOKS
It has been years that the ministry of education is using a technique in educational books to decrease the impact of the western culture in Iran. For this, they have done their best to put the English books being taught at schools and governmental institutes into an Iranian culture frame. At the first sight it might seem very logical to do so, because meeting a new culture, habits and behaviors might be difficult to accept for the beginners. But the problem appears when the students get to learn the new language in an Iranian manner and start to practice the new language in their native setting. But they face serious problems when they start to communicate in their real life setting. Using English within the frame of their mother tongue, being embarrassed because of asking a culturally wrong questions and being upset because of meeting odd occasions which are not common in their own society all bring problems which have been caused mainly because of their books that they have studied during years. This research plans to focus on the contents of Iranian English books and to compare them with the American ESL books according to the cultural factors.
Two different books of the similar levels were analyzed during the study:
a) The first book belongs to the elementary level of a governmental language institute.
b) The second book was chosen from the “Second edition of the New Interchange Series”, belonging to the elementary levels of private language institutes.
The parts which are analyzed contain the places, activities, proper nouns, pictures, holidays, theme of the dialogues and reading texts, food, religious views, grammatical exercises and the teaching methodology. Each part is compared separately and the differences are explained either beside the subject or in a chart. The type of the research used for this study is a descriptive method. In other words because the study is related to the comparison of two ESL books, there is no need to an experimental method. The major implication that this study can have is that it will pave the way for further studies showing the effects of culture on students’ learning ability.
The difference between the two books can end in a second research to be done on the different effects of this difference on the students. Later on, by the help of following studies parallel to this and others, there might happen a big change in designing the syllabuses for the students considering the term culture as an effective factor on learning ability. As a result, the studies of this kind (either descriptive or experimental) will be a good reason for syllabus designers to produce a revised version of the educational books being published massively, so that, the students of ESL classes can turn to proficient speakers of the target language with the competence in both linguistic and cultural issues.