The Role of Situational Authenticity in English Language Textbooks

J.Y.H. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assesses the extent to which situational authenticity has been implemented in three commercial ELT textbook series in Hong Kong, which are designed to reflect the local sociolinguistic setting. The analysis involved the quantification and categorization of both written and spoken texts in the textbooks. The results of this analysis were subsequently compared with empirical evidence about Hong Kong people’s real-life language use. The findings suggest that a close alignment between the language-using contexts in textbooks and the real world is unrealistic, inappropriate and virtually impossible at school. The paper discusses the actual challenges faced by textbook writers, particularly in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts, namely the difficulties in dealing with (1) the contrast between real-world and classroom language needs, (2) local educational constraints, (3) the restricted societal role of English in EFL societies and (4) the lack of a needs analysis of the local language-using contexts for textbook design. It recommends that textbook writers adopt a more straightforward approach to designing tasks and highlights the important role of teachers in promoting interactional authenticity in the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-317
JournalRELC Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2013


  • Authenticity
  • task-based language teaching (TBLT)
  • ELT materials
  • Hong Kong


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