Content Analysis of Iranian High School English Textbooks in terms of Politeness Markers, Speech Acts, and Language Functions

Document Type : Research Paper


1 English Department, Faculty of Humanities, University of Qom, Qom, Iran

2 English Department, faculty of Humanities, University of Qom, Qom, Iran


Considering the indispensable role pragmatic knowledge plays in not only comprehending L2 materials, but also in making and maintaining proper communication, and the fact that Iranian EFL learners are primarily exposed to the target language through textbooks, this research intended to discern how frequently and appropriately Politeness Markers (PMs), Speech Acts (SAs), and Language Functions (LFs) are being incorporated in newly-published Iranian high school English textbooks: Prospect and Vision Series. Furthermore, the study set out to investigate the possible relations between the level of the textbooks and the frequency of pragmatic components being included. To this end, 172 conversations of the aforementioned textbooks were thoroughly analyzed to determine the frequency of the PMs based on House and Kasper (1981) taxonomy, the frequency of SAs based on Searle's (1979) paradigm, and the frequency of LFs according to Halliday’s (1978) framework. Findings revealed that Committers were the most frequently-used PMs, Representatives and Directives were the most commonly-used SAs, and Informatives enjoyed the highest frequency among LFs. The results also indicated that these pragmatic components were not equally distributed throughout the conversations and no significant relationship existed between level of the textbooks and frequency of the pragmatic elements. In addition to the consciousness-raising dimension of the study, material developers might be able to appropriately represent and include pragmatic information into their materials. Moreover, teachers might also be able to amend and modify their adopted approaches to foreign language teaching and adjust them to accommodate potential learner styles and their preferences.


Main Subjects


Alavi Moghaddam, S. B., Kheirabadi, R., Ananisarab, M., Forozandeh Shahraki, E., Khadir Sharabian, S. & Ghorbani, N. (2015). English for schools, Prospect 1: Student book, Junior secondary program. Tehran: Iran's Textbook Publishing Company.
Alavi Moghaddam, S. B., Kheirabadi, R., Forozandeh Shahraki, E., Khadir Sharabian, S., & Nikoopoor, J. (2015). English for schools, Prospect 2: Student book, Junior secondary program. Tehran: Iran's Textbook Publishing Company.
Alavi Moghaddam, S. B., Kheirabadi, R., Rahimi, M., & Alavi, M. (2016). English for schools, Prospect 3: Student book, Junior secondary program. Tehran: Iran's Textbook Publishing Company.
Alavi Moghaddam, S. B., Kheirabadi, R., Rahimi, M., & Davari, H. (2016). English for schools, Vision 1: Student book. Tehran: Iran's Textbook Publishing Company.
Alavi Moghaddam, S. B., Kheirabadi, R., Rahimi, M., & Davari, H.  (2017). English for schools, Vision 2: Student book. Tehran: Iran's Textbook Publishing Company.
Alavi Moghaddam, S. B., Kheirabadi, R., Rahimi, M., & Davari, H. (2018). English for schools, Vision 3: Student book. Tehran: Iran's Textbook Publishing Company.
Ansary, H., & Babai, E. (2002). Universal characteristics of EFL/ESL textbook: A step toward systematic Textbook evaluation. The Internet TESL Journal, 8(2), 6-12.
Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. London: Oxford University Press.
Azizifar, A., Koosha, M., & Lotfi, A. R. (2010). An analytical evaluation of Iranian high school ELT textbooks from 1970 to the present. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 3, 36-44.
Bachman, L. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bardovi-Harlig, K. (1996). Pragmatics and language teaching: Bringing pragmatics and pedagogy together. In L. F. Bouton (Ed.) Pragmatics and language learning (pp. 21-39). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois.
Brown, R., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena. Strategies in social interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University.
Crystal, D., & Davy, D. (1975). Advanced conversational English. London: Longman.
Dabbagh, A., & Safaei, A. (2019). Comparative textbook evaluation: Representation of learning objectives in locally and internationally published ELT textbooks. Issues in Language Teaching, 8(1), 249-277.
Edmondson, W. (1977). A pedagogic grammar of the English verb: A handbook for the German secondary teacher of English. Tübingen: Narr.
Gholami, J. (2015). Is there room for pragmatic knowledge in English books in Iranian high schools?, English Language Teaching8(4), 39-51.‏
Halliday, M. A. K. (1974). Language and social man. London: Longman.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as social semiotics: The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: London Edward Arnold
Holmes, J. (2000). Politeness, power and provocation: How humor functions in the workplace. Discourse Studies, 2(2), 159-85.
House, J., & Kasper, G. (1981). Politeness markers in English and German. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), Conversational routine (pp. 157-186). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Huang, Y., Geng, X., & Whinston, A. B. (2007). Network mapping services for Jaszczolt, 2002. 'Against ambiguity and under specification: Evidence from presupposition as anaphora'. Journal of Pragmatics 34(2), 829-849.
Jahangard, A. (2007). The evaluation of the EFL materials taught at Iranian public high schools. Asian EFL Journal, 9(2) 130-150.
Kasper, G., & Roever, C. (2005). Pragmatics in second language learning. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 317-334). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Kasper, G., & Rose, K. R. (2002). Theories of second language pragmatic development. Language Learning, 52(1), 13-52.
Longcope, P. (1995). The universality of face in Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory: A Japanese perspective. Working papers in educational linguistics, 11(1), 69-79.
Lyons, J. (1977). Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McConachy, T., & Hata, K. (2013). Addressing textbook representations ofpragmatics and culture. ELT Journal, 67(3), 294-301.
Moradi, A., Karbalaei, A., & Afraz, S. (2013). A textbook evaluation of speech acts and language functions in high school English textbooks (I, II and III) and Interchange series, books I, II, and III. European Online Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 2(2),323-335.
Olshtain, E., & Cohen, A. D. (1991). Teaching speech act behavior to non-native speakers. Teaching English as a second or foreign language. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle. 154-165.
Rahimi, M., & Nabilou, Z. (2009). Globalization and EFL curriculum reform in Iran: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Technology of Education, 3,115-124.
Roohani, A., & Alipour, J. (2016). An investigation into the use of speech acts and languagefunctions in Iranian high school English textbooks. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning,6(3),25-33.
Razmjoo, S. A. (2007). High schools or private institutes textbooks? Which fulfills communicative language teaching principles in the Iranian context? Asian EFL Journal, 9(4). 126-140.
Salimi, E. A., & Karami, B. (2019). Pragmatic competence development: Demystifying the impact of task types and EFL students' perceptions. Issues in Language Teaching (ILT), 8(1), 279-302.
Sanie, N., & Vahid Dastjerdi, H. (2018). Greeting speech act forms in Iranian junior high school textbooks: Prospect series vs. Four Corners series. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching & Research, 6(23), 51-68.
Searle, J. (1976). Expression and meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shams, A. (2015). Speech acts and language functions found in the conversation models of Prospect 1. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 9(2), 145-155.
Shariati, M., & Chamani, F. (2010). Apology strategies in Persian. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(6), 1689-1699.
Schmidt, R. (2001). Attention. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 3-32). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tavakoli, F. (1995). Functional analysis of the dialogues in the Iranian senior high school English textbooks (Unpublished master's thesis). Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran.
Tucker, C. (1975). Evaluating beginning textbooks. English Teaching Forum,13(3),335-361.
Vellenga, H. (2004). Learning pragmatics from ESL & EFL textbooks: How likely? TESL-EJ, 8(2), 25-38.
Watts, R. J. (2003). Key topics in sociolinguistics: Politeness. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Wolfson, N., Marmor, T., & Jones, S. (1989). Problems in the comparison of speech acts across cultures. In S. Blum-Kulka, J. House, & G. Kasper (Eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Yule, G. (2006). The study of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zaferanieh, E., & Hosseini-Maasoum, S. M. (2015). Pragmatic representations in Iranian high school English textbooks. Journal of English Language Pedagogy and Practice8(16), 187-198.