Authenticity in college English textbooks - An intercultural perspective

Anwei Feng, Michael Byram

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The use of 'authentic texts' is one of the most important criteria acknowledged by writers of textbooks for language teaching. How do textbook writers define authentic materials? How have scholars in language education challenged conventional beliefs in authenticity in recent years? Is authenticity really an illusion as some scholars claim? This paper is to focus on these issues. The following pages will first briefly review different perspectives in discussing authenticity in foreign language education. On the basis of the review, the paper suggests a perspective that takes intercultural communicative competence as a starting point addressing four fundamental issues of authenticity for textbook writing in countries where English is spoken as a foreign or second language. The four issues include intercultural representation, mediation of intention and interpretation, balance of diachrony and synchrony and image representations, and principles of contrivance. To illustrate the perspective, the prevailing definition of authentic texts by Chinese textbook writers will be examined as represented in recent literature about College English teaching and in some survey data. College English 2, one of the most widely-used College English textbook series, will be used as the focus of analysis in broad terms in accordance with the four dimensions identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-84
Number of pages27
JournalRELC Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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