An Investigation of Culture Specific Items in English Textbooks Taught at Iraqi State-run High Schools and Private Institutes

Document Type : Research Papers


University College of Science and Technology, Basrah, Iraq


Introduction: The issue of culture has been a controversial topic in foreign language teaching. One of the best resources for familiarizing foreign language learners with another language culture is textbook. Therefore, the current study aimed to investigate the culture-specific items in in terms of Kachru’s (1985) concentric circles in English textbooks used in state-run schools and private language institutes in Iraq.   
Methodology: Two textbooks of New Interchange series and English for Iraq series were analyzed in terms of their culture-specific items using Newmark’s (1988) framework. Cultural items related to categories of ecology, material culture, social culture, organizations, customs and ideas, gestures and habits as well as anthroponyms, were identified, and their frequency counts were computed. The Chi-square test was run to test the significance of each category.
Results: The results of a Chi-square test indicated that there were no significant differences between New Interchange and English for Iraq series in terms of culture-specific items related to “the expanding circle”. However, a significant difference was found between the two series of textbooks as to the culture-specific items related to “the inner circle”. With regard to cultural items related to the Iraqi native culture, Organizations, Customs, Activities, Procedures, and Concepts were found to be the most frequent items, while Anthroponyms turned out to be the least frequent cultural items reflected in English for Iraq series of textbooks.
Conclusion: It can be concluded that English textbooks published in English speaking countries (inner circle) and those published in non-native countries, such as Iraq, include items from expanding circle countries.