B1 level: English File Intermediate 4th edition (Oxford)
In order to identify whether the course book contains any traces of gender or racial discrimination as well as to see what linguistic backgrounds the speakers have, unit 2B (Changing lives) was analysed.
This unit focuses on the world globalisation, therefore, some pieces of listening and reading are presented to cover the topic of multinational and multiconfessional world. The first two audio tracks comprised interviews with the participants of an African charity organisation, with the help of which learners could obtain ample evidence of close bonds with the community in Uganda. In particular, European volunteers maintain close bonds with educational centres in Uganda, providing them with books and teachers.
This recording establishes a friendly and supportive attitude to economically inferior countries despite their economic status. Some photos relate to the interactions between black and white population. Alongside with the charity issues, grammar content (the Present Perfect Continuous tense) is presented in the unit.
The benefit of this approach is that grammar structures representing continuous actions are interwoven in the cultural context. Obviously, this grammar rule has allowed the authors to underline longitudinal on-going relationships between countries and continents.Other audio tracks (3 tracks out of 5) in the unit are made by English native speakers in order to counterbalance cultural and language issues.
On the other hand, there is a long piece of reading (Ex. 6, p. 32) where another European volunteer talks about charity challenges throughout the world (Namibia, Peru, Brazil, etc.). Thereby, a close-knit community spirit is highlighted by the editors in every single part of the unit, making it clear that there are only formal international borders and no irremovable cultural impediments. A very optimistic and clear-cut example of globalisation.
B2 level: Empower B2 (Cambridge)
Different authors have measured human talents in a variety of ways. Unit 3A in the course book reflects on learning by means of using a number of speaking exercises as well as the text. Given the scientific context of the issue, this reading comprises references to European psychologists, providing robust evidence of fundamental Western knowledge and complementing them by some photo snaps.
However, the pictures represent various nations and do not let the reader doubt that the content can be attributed to anyone (see the image). Hence, racial differences are minimized with the help of the photo content despite the priority of Western scholars. Both men and women are depicted as active and cheerful people, regardless of their age.
Age difference is another concern of the editors, who managed to use a range of age groups, avoiding creating the basement for any discrimination or inequality in terms of talents or personal gifts. The audio track provides the learner with 2 pieces of listening, where 2 men and 1 woman-speaker talk about their learning experiences. I believe, the choice of participants is well made as all of them are English native speakers, but their accents vary, representing regional dialects.
The follow-up unit 3B, also advocates total equality of races and genders as it could be seen in the picture. A piece of reading, used in the unit, contains a story about Kenyan runners’ success which is explained by their extraordinary physical abilities. The success is determined by their genes, therefore, black population, from the standpoint of the editors, has got an advantage over other races that do not possess it.
So, the unit goes about people’s achievements and outstanding traits is thoroughly counterbalanced by means of mentioning Western scholars and African sportsmen, using images of the young and the old, referring to men’s and women’s abilities.