ISSN 2454-8537

International Journal of Humanities in Technical Education Vol: 4, Issue 1 May - 2020 ISSN 2454-8537

A Critical Analysis of the Textbook of English (second language) of Std. IX with Reference to the Language Tasks

Mr Jigar Abhani Assistant Professor Marwadi University, Rajkot

Dr Nishant Joshi Assistant Professor Indian Institute of Teacher Education, Gandhinagar


English language teaching has been gaining momentum throughout India. A range of English language teaching material is being produced and published across the country. Textbook, particularly textbooks used in schools, is one of the important and widely used teaching resources so far as the teaching of English as a second language is concerned. Thus, quality textbooks must be brought out for the utmost benefits of students. It is also pertinent that the language textbooks include appropriate language tasks which provide students with an opportunity not only to become aware of various nuances of language but also to become capable of using the language inside and outside the classroom. It is in this view that the researcher examines and analyses the tasks given in the textbook English (second language) published for the students of std. IX by Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks, Gandhinagar. The major focus of researcher is to analyse the tasks of productive skills, i.e. Speaking Skills and Writing Skills in the light of components derived from IELTS band descriptors and Common European Framework of References for Languages.

Key terms:

Textbook analysis, productive skills, tasks

A Critical Analysis of the Textbook of English (second language) of Std. IX with Reference to the Language Tasks


Textbooks are artefacts. They are a part of schooling that many stakeholders have the chance to examine and understand (or misunderstand). In most classrooms they are the physical tools most intimately connected to teaching and learning. Textbooks are designed to translate the abstractions of curriculum policy into operations thatteachers and students can carry out. They are intended as mediators between the intentions of the designers of curriculum policy and the teachers that provide instruction in classrooms. Their precise mediating role may vary according to the specifics of different nations, educational systems and classrooms. Their great importance is constant. (Valverde et al., 2002, as cited in Okeeffe, 2013, p.2)

A textbook plays an essential role in the teaching-learning process. When it comes to school education a textbook refers to a book prepared and published by the government for a particular subject. It is used by the fraternities of students and teachers because it provides them with a direction. Teachers get to know what s/he is supposed to teach in terms of content and students come to know about the bare minimum content that they are supposed to learn. One of the biggest reasons a textbook holds an important place in the teaching-learning process in a country like India is that the examinations and evaluation also depend on it to a large extent.

In such a situation it becomes necessary to critically analyse the textbook. The analysis of the textbook would yield insights as to its suitability; whether it does what it claims to be doing and whether it accomplishes its set goals. (Anjaneyulu, 2016). In a country like India where there is heterogeneity everywhere including the classrooms and where English is taught as a second language, it becomes even more crucial to examine the English language textbook. It is important to see whether the textbook corresponds to the students’ needs of the particular situation, whether it emphasizes on imparting language skills to learners and whether it gives them opportunities to use/practice English in classrooms. In the context of rural areas, it becomes even more pertinent that the textbook promotes English as a language and not as a subject and guidesthestudentsofruralareastoacquireatleastthebasiclanguageskillsbecause unlike the students of urban areas, rural area students are not exposed to other means of learning a language.

Unfortunately, it is found that although there is extended amount of literature on the evaluation of ELT materials, there is not a substantial body of published action research in analysing EFL textbooks (Anjaneyulu, 2016). While we understand that it is important to analyse the textbook as it affects the larger community of students and teachers, it is disappointing to see that only a few attempts have been made in this direction.

This paper analyses the textbook English (second language) published for the students of std. IX by Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks, Gandhinagar. It primarily focuses on analysing the tasks given in this textbook in the light of language skills in general and productive skills in particular.

1.1 A model for textbook analysis

McDonough and Shaw (2003) and McGrath (2002) as cited in Anjaneyulu (2016) propose a two-level model for the comprehensive evaluation of textbooks.

The first level involves a brief external evaluation which includes criteria concerning the organizational foundation of the textbook, as stated explicitly by the author/publisher through the cover, introduction and table of contents statements.

The second level involves an in-depth internal investigation of the textbook, to see how far the content under investigation match up to what the author claims as well as to the aims and objectives of a given teaching program.

The researcher in the present study uses the second level which involves an in-depth investigation. The study is carried out particularly with reference to the investigation of the tasks given in the textbook.

1.2 Distribution of Tasks – Skill Wise

The researcher has focused on the tasks given in the textbook of std. IX. He attempted to divide the given tasks concerning the four basic language skills, i.e. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW). The following chart illustrates the aforementioned division.

It can be easily understood from the given chart that 49% of the tasks given in the textbook focus on enhancing the writing skills of the students. Proportion of 10%, 21% and 20% was found respectively for listening skills, speaking skills and reading skills.

It can be interpreted that the large portion of the textbook, particularly the tasks, deals with writing skills.

1.2.1 Findings

Skills such as listening and speaking which are considered to be very important skills in terms of acquiring a second language are focused less than writing skills.

Some of the tasks given in the textbook are isolated in nature that is to say that they are not contextual tasks. So, students may find it difficult to understand and complete such tasks. Also, such task will not bear fruitful results because it is believed that language cannot be learnt in isolation.

The difficulty level of some of the tasks is higher. They don’t match with the level of students of std. IX

Teachers would not be able to give opportunities to students to use the English language in the classroom due to the imbalance prevailing in the division of the tasks.

1.3 Division of LSRW Skills Components in the Tasks

Based on IELTS band descriptors and Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR) the researcher has evaluated the tasks keeping in mind the following components.



Coherence and Cohesion



Stress –Intonation

The chart shown below indicates the division of these components in the tasks.

It is visible that the component which is given the maximum weightage is vocabulary 32%. The rest of the components are mentioned below in descending order.

Grammar –28%

Punctuation –16%

Coherence and Cohesion –13%

Fluency –5%

Not clear (Tasks which do not deal with any particular component) –4%

Stress – Intonation –2%

The chart indicates that the textbook includes more number of vocabulary and grammar tasks. The textbook include only a few tasks which emphasize on components such as punctuation, coherence and cohesion, fluency and stress-intonation.

1.3.1 Findings

It can be asserted that the textbook does not support the enhancement of functional/communicative skills very much as it focuses more vocabulary and grammar tasks

There are also a few tasks which don’t fall under any of these components. One may not be able to say which components of language skills are enhanced through these tasks.

There has been a number of discussions and debates among the people in academia that more emphasis should be given to functions of language, not to the structure or grammar of the language to felicitate the acquisition of language skills among the students, but there are still a number of tasks concerning the structures or forms rather than functions or meanings.

1.4 Analysis of Tasks with Reference to Productive Skills

1.4.1 Speaking Skills

The following speaking skills components were analysed based on IELTS band descriptors and CEFR:




Stress –Intonation

It can be seen that 41% of speaking tasks focus on grammar, 29% of tasks deal with vocabulary, 22% is given to the development of fluency and only 8% of tasks include the elements of stress and intonation.

One can easily figure out that grammar holds a large proportion of the tasks of speaking skills. Components such as fluency and stress-intonation are focused very less. Also, components such as fluency and stress-intonation should be given more weightage because they help students converse effectively in real-life situations. Findings

Throughout the textbook it is found that students are either expected to have grammatical knowledge to complete the tasks or the tasks will lead them to learn grammatical structures rather than the functions of language.

There are only a few tasks exclusively on speaking. There are separate sections on vocabulary, comprehension and writing at the end of each unit, but there is no separate space given for speaking skills.

A task is (1) a classroom activity or exercise that has (a) an objective attainable only by the interaction among participants, (b) a mechanism for structuring and sequencing interaction, and (c) a focus on meaning exchange; (2) a language learning endeavor that requires learners to comprehend, manipulate, and/or produce the target language as they perform some set of workplans. (Lee, 2000) as cited in (What Is a Task? | Foreign Language Teaching Methods: Speaking,n.d.)

Many of the tasks given in the textbook seem to be inappropriate because they do not follow the characteristics mentioned above. They neither stimulate interaction among students nor motivate them to produce the target language.

1.4.2 Writing Skills

The writing skills components which were analysed for the study are:



Coherence and Cohesion


The tasks designed for enhancing writing skills of students include 36% of vocabulary tasks, 28% of grammar tasks, 18% of coherence & cohesion tasks and 18% of punctuation tasks.

The data indicates that components such as vocabulary and grammar dominate the writing tasks given in the textbook. The components such as coherence and cohesion and punctuation are given less importance. It can be interpreted that grammar and vocabulary are considered to be more important components for enhancing writing skills. Findings

In the case of writing skills also the students are more exposed to grammatical and lexical elements of language.

Many of the writing tasks given in the textbook are based on the memory or recalling ability of students. Students are expected to remember/memorize the information/data/content and recall it while doing the tasks. Such type of tasks may promote rote learning.

There are many writing tasks in the textbook which are not contextual. They include stuff like ‘fill in blanks’ (with isolated sentences), ‘answer the questions’ etc.

1.5 Findings based on the Quality of the Textbook

The quality of the textbook referrers to the external features of the book including binding, printing, organization of content etc. The quality of pages, printing etc. seems to be fair. However, a hardbound book could have been better and more comfortable for students. Also, if it printed in multiple colours, it would be more appealing to students. The overall organization of the textbook seems to be satisfactory.

1.6 Findings based on the Content of the Textbook

Content of the textbook is very important because it affects the learning of students. The researcher feels that a couple of units of the textbook can be replaced with more interesting units/content. It is observed that students learn better and more effectively if they enjoy or like what theyare learning. This can be done by correlating the content of the textbook with the needs and level of students. This is true even for the language tasks given in the textbook.

1.7 Recommendations

There should be a balance among the four skills of language i.e. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW) with reference to the language tasks.

There should be contextual tasks in the textbook. Tasks without context will not serve the purpose of enhancing language skills of students

The tasks should be designed in a way that they provide students with opportunities to use the target language inside the classroom.

There should be a balance among the components of language skills. Components such as coherence and cohesion, punctuation, fluency, stress-intonation etc. should not be neglected and should be given sufficient importance.

The tasks given in the textbook should be functional/communicative in nature. They should more focus on the functions of language rather than form or structures.

There should be a separate section containing the communicative tasks on speaking skills at the end of each unit.

The tasks given in the textbook should not promote rote learning rather they should work towards making students enable to use the target language in varied contexts.

There should be need-based language tasks. Tasks should be designed keeping in mind needs and level of students.

It also should not be forgotten that majority of Indian population live in the rural areas, so there should be some tasks in the textbook concerning their context which help them acquire the English language skills.

The content of the textbook/units should also be decided keeping in mind the needs and interests of students.

The quality of textbook in terms of binding, printing etc. should be further improved.

1.8 Conclusion

The analysis of the textbook of English (second language) of std IX. carried out by the researcher shows that the tasks given in the textbook are more inclined towards enhancing writing skills in general and grammar and vocabulary in particular. Majority of the tasks are not communicative in nature and they do not provide students with opportunities to use the target language in the classroom. If English is to be taught as a language, the content of the textbook should revolve around that idea and should contain more number of communicative/interactive tasks which make the teaching-learning process student-centric and more interesting.


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