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From Functionalism to Language Development: A Comparison of FCE and Summit Books

Tayyebe Goodarzi

International Center for Teaching Persian to Non-Persian Speakers, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

Tayyebe Goodarzi International Center for Teaching Persian to Non-Persian Speakers, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran Corresponding author: Tayyebe Goodarzi. International Center for Teaching Persian to Non-Persian Speakers, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. Email: tbgoodarzi@gmail.com


Introduction: This paper aimed to analyze FCE and Summit books which are among popular English language teaching textbooks. In particular, this study was an attempt toward the objective analysis of reading passages by finding the differences and similarities of the books in terms of their processes. Methodology: To conduct the study, a corpus of 1964 clauses from reading passages of the two books named Ready for First Certificate of English FCE and Summit was formed, classified, and coded. The corpus was then analyzed based on Halliday and Mattheisen’ (2004) transitivity system. Results: The findings of the study revealed that there were significant differences between Summit and FCE books in terms of relational, existential, and verbal processes. Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that analyzing the schemas of the texts not only reveals the mindsets of their authors, but also can be an objective method for better understanding of a text The results were also discussed from an educational perspective, and suggestions were made for future research.


The saliency of textbooks in English language teaching (ELT henceforth) classes cannot be ignored due to their importance in providing language input and practices for language learners (Richards, 2001). Textbooks are, in fact, the means of consistency in the language learning process which can give learners a sense of cohesion and belonging to a system (Toms, 2004) by guiding them and balancing the contents to be learned. The content of a textbook not only does transfer knowledge and information, but also develop certain attitudes in the mind of the learners. Coursebooks will directly or indirectly communicate sets of cultural values (Mclean, 2011). This is called a ‘hidden curriculum’ (Cunningsworth, 1995; Holly, 1990). Many educationalists claim that the hidden curriculum is more effective than the official curriculum. As mentioned, foreign language teaching textbooks are implicit means through which no cultural transmission occurs and it is not sheer development of foreign language pedagogy (Li, 2016). Since the underlying system is not explicitly stated, it requires us to look at course books in detail to understand the unstated values. Consequently, evaluating English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) textbooks in any educational program can be of utmost importance. Texts and reading passages are the integral components of textbooks which mirror how a writer comprehends and sees the world. In fact, authors of texts make a special choice of grammar and vocabulary with regard to those who are supposed to read their texts. Therefore, these are the writer’s choices which create the meaning of the text (Teo, 2000). In this regard, systemic functional linguistics is a theory of linguistics that claims language, or any other semiotic system, can be seen as a system of choices. This theory focuses mainly on the principle that “…behaviors, beliefs and values within a particular cultural and social environment influence and shape both the overall language system…and language “instances,” the way people use language in everyday interaction (Coffin, 2001, p. 95). Functionalist movements began in Europe and flourished in the work of Halliday (1985) when he introduced systemic functional grammar (SFG). Systemic in this sense, considers language as “a network of systems, or interrelated sets of options for making meaning” (Halliday, 1985); functional refers to Halliday’s view that language is as it is because of what it has evolved to do.

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