Language Textbooks often play a major role in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classrooms, not only to provide information but also to help students construct their identities. Several studies showed that identity and language learning are inseparable, due to the simple fact that every learner has his/her own identity aspects like race, gender, social class, and speaker status (i.e., native speaker vs. non-native speaker of the target language). These aspects should be acknowledged because providing the students with limited identity options might cause the students to resist learning the language or be less invested in this practice (Norton & Toohey,2011).
However, there is limited support for teachers who wish to examine identity in ESOL textbooks. Several scholars attempted to evaluate the range of identity options offered in ESOL textbooks, but they all used either Critical Discourse Analysis or Content Analysis which can be effective; however, these procedures require training and can take a long time, so they may not be practical for teachers. This suggests that there is a need for a less complicated evaluation tool that can be easily used by teachers.
The purpose of this thesis is to develop a teacher-friendly identity-focused checklist for ESOL textbooks, and the thesis is guided by the following questions: (a) what would an evaluation checklist for identity in ESOL textbooks look like?; (b) what can this checklist reveal about ESOL textbooks? The purpose of this thesis was achieved by developing a qualitative checklist that covers, race, gender, social class, and speaker status, and demonstrating how to use it on a collection of five adult ESOL textbooks. The checklist revealed similarities and differences between the textbooks, including important shortcomings, and that kind of information can be useful for the teacher to make decisions about the textbook he/she uses.