Project description

Poland, as a young conservative democracy, is witnessing an unprecedented amount of public debate where both ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ figure prominently. Yet, they are widely perceived as foreign imports and thus fiercely contested. Consequently, the role of English as a Second Language (ESL) materials as well as teachers as potential mediators of markedly different Anglophone socio-politics is unquestionable. While it is true that ‘gender’ has been researched in the context of the ESL classroom, this strand of academic enquiry seems to have been abandoned. ‘Sexuality’ in this context, in turn, is a novel idea only initially probed. Regrettably, neither of these categories is regarded as important in the context of Polish education in general.


The overall aim of the project is to detail how ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’, as two salient social variables, are managed in the context of the ESL classroom in the Polish context, i.e. ESL materials, the process of reviewing learning materials by the Ministry of Education, and the situated practice of ESL learning (both students’ and teachers’ perspectives). Therefore, the project will investigate how ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ are portrayed in the ESL coursebook texts and images, negotiated in the teacher-student interactions and addressed by educational policy makers. To this end an interdisciplinary methodological framework drawing on the state-of-the-art approaches to linguistic analysis will be used (including Focus Groups for data collection, and Critical Discourse Analysis with Corpus Linguistics, and Multimodal Discourse Analysis).


The proposed study seeks to address the following research questions: 

1) (a)  How is gender and sexuality portrayed in ESL materials? (i) textbooks, (ii) dictionaries, (iii) curricula?

1) (b)  How are the materials (i) and (ii) consumed in classroom talk? 

2) How is gender and sexuality manifested in teacher-student and student-student interactions? 

3) How does students’ experiences and identities relate to the content of ESL materials? (high school and university level) What are students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards these portrayals/constructions?

4) What is Ministry of Education coursebooks reviewers’ awareness level of gender- and sexuality-related issues in curricula and coursebooks? (is there any attention paid to this aspect of ESL materials at all?)


>>Project brochure can be downloaded here<<