The Place of Literary Texts in Algerian EFL Textbooks
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English as a foreign language is taught in Algeria as compulsory subject of mainstream education both at the Middle and at Secondary schools. The materials used are locally designed and reflect the country’s adopted educational paradigm. The EFL textbooks, which are the main used materials, are actually subject to the Ministry of National Education approval. Every time, educational authorities introduce a reform of teaching approach or paradigm new textbooks are designed to reflect the change. The current paper accounts for a thorough evaluation of three EFL textbooks designed along three successive educational reforms in Algeria during the 1990’s and 2000’s. It looked at the teaching and cultural contents of Think it Over (1989), Comet (2001) and New Prospects (2007) with a special focus on the place of literary texts as tools for teaching the language and means of developing the learners’ cultural competence. It adopted a mixed methods research design combining between quantitative and qualitative approaches. From the quantitative perspective, it looked at the development of the rate of the inclusion of literary texts in the three successive textbooks. Then, it adopted a qualitative systemic functional approach to the analysis of the reading texts to highlight the pedagogical value of those literary texts. The results were conclusive. On one hand, they showed a clear rise in the number of literary text included in the most recent textbook New Prospects (2007) compared to the two previous ones which favoured scientific texts. On the other hand, they highlighted the important role of literary texts in cultural contextualisation. These changes are mainly explained by the adoption of a new teaching paradigm, the competency-based language teaching, which targets developing learners’ intercultural communicative competence. There are not only more literary texts but, they are selected from different cultural areas including works by British, American and African writers.