Despite increased emphasis on the role of inclusive practices and materials in post-COVID-19 classrooms and warnings about implicit biases against disadvantaged groups, the textbook problem has rarely been approached with equity measures in mind. This multimethod study aimed to investigate to what extent L2 reading materials, locally produced and used for refugee education in Turkey and New Zealand, include all children with different proficiency levels, gender identities and cultural backgrounds using corpus-driven methods. All verbal and nonverbal texts from ten thematically similar third-grade storybooks were subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis. Comparisons against measures of grammatical and lexical complexity, and of gender and cultural equity revealed that despite both being far from achieving the ideal composition for creating inclusive learning-friendly environments, TSL materials were lagging further behind ESL counterparts. They depended on almost uniform sets of easy-to-read narratives embodying simpler grammatical features and high-frequency words, and thus needed extension with relatively elaborate ones to accommodate mixed-abilities. Gender disparities were institutionalised through male overrepresentation in hero-making, negative stereotyping, familial and occupational identification, and engagement in monetary and mobility activities, but occasionally ameliorated, in the ESL case, by reversing conventionally-gendered domestic, technical and intellectual skills in texts and illustrations. The widest gap was observed in cultural representations because TSL materials, written from a tourist’s perspective, focused on imposing superficial knowledge of target-culture elements, and ESL materials on ensuring relevance through greater use of elements from diverse cultures. Therefore, egalitarian representations in gendered and cultural contents are required for their rehabilitation.

DOI: 10.22492/ije.10.1.03
ISSN: 2187-0594