The Ministry of Education (MEXT) is promoting International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, aiming to increase the number of IB schools in Japan to 200 by 2018 (MEXT, 2012). Although IB programs are recognized as awarding an international qualification, not many educators in Japan are familiar with the programs and there have been few studies conducted to elucidate the IB curricula. In this paper, I compare and contrast the English textbooks used in IB Diploma programs and the senior high school textbooks approved by MEXT, especially from the perspectives of reading in the second language. Two IB textbooks of English B and two textbooks of Communication English II were analyzed in this study. First, the themes and styles of reading passages were categorized. As a result of content analysis, the IB textbooks were found to cover topics related to communication, global issues, and social relationships, while the Japanese textbooks, though they included such topics as environmental problems and communication, focused more on friendship, sports, and animals. As for the styles of passages, reports in the newspaper and on the Internet accounted for more than half of IB textbooks; the Japanese textbooks included mostly exploratory essays. Second, tasks and reading comprehension questions of the passages were categorized according to the cognitive levels of Anderson's Taxonomy (2001), which revealed different patterns in IB textbooks and Japanese textbooks. The former had tasks of both lower- and higher-order thinking skills, while the latter focused on lower-level thinking skills such as understanding and remembering.
Madoka Kawano, Meiji University, Japan
Stream: Language education
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