72. EFL books in Iraq

“What are the difficulties of learning English in Iraq?”

“What are EFL books like in Iraq?”

As EFL teachers, we probably know a lot about teaching situations in various parts of the world – obviously in the USA and Europe, but probably also in Japan, Korea, China, and Latin America and South America. Much less is known about the Middle East, particularly countries like Armenia, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Adrian Wallwork spoke to Sura Dhiaa Ibraheem, an Iraqi researcher and professor with a Masters in English Language and Linguistics. She works at Al- Farahidi University, which is a private university in Baghdad. Sura and her colleagues are organising a conference entitled “New Trends in English Language Teaching” to be held in April 2024. She would very much appreciate teachers outside Iraq becoming involved in the conference. Note: The illustrations (apologies for the poor quality) all come from a book called English in Iraq. The book is totally England-centered – students in Iraq find it very difficult to relate to.

Sura: The first thing you need to know is that all the textbooks were developed by UK publishers on the basis of the Iraqi government’s requirements.

Do the teachers and students find the books effective?

No. To give the publishers some credit, they were designed to be communicative. But our teacher survey suggested that studying grammar, reading aloud, and doing vocabulary exercises were the primary activities. In most cases teachers and learners do not actually not speak English often, and when they do this will often be limited to repeating what the teacher says.