Teaching oral requests: An evaluation of five English as a second language coursebooks

Eleni Petraki and Sarah Bayes

Abstract

Research in English language teaching has highlighted the importance of teaching communication skills in the language classroom. Against the backdrop of extensive research in everyday communication, the goal of this research was to explore whether current discourse analytic research is reflected in the lessons and communication examples of five English language teaching textbooks, by using spoken requests as the subject of investigation. The textbooks were evaluated on five criteria deriving from research on politeness, speech act theory and conversation analysis. These included whether and the extent to which the textbooks discussed the cultural appropriateness of requests, discussed the relationship of requests and other contextual factors, explained pre-sequences and re-requests and provided adequate practice activities. This study found that none of the coursebooks covered all of the criteria and that some coursebooks actually had very inadequate lessons. The results of the textbook analysis demonstrate that teachers using these five coursebooks and designers of future coursebooks must improve their lessons on requests by using pragmatics research and authentic examples as a guide.

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