Banal nationalism in ESL textbooks


  • Trevor Gulliver Bishop's University


Despite repeating claims that Canadians are less nationalistic than members of other nations, English as a second language (ESL) textbooks often participate in banal repetitions of nation-ness and nationalism. This banal nationalism takes the form of the marking of nation through flags, maps, routine deixis, and nationalized symbols. This study examines markings of nation in 24 ESL textbooks used in government-funded language instruction in Canada. This nationalized imagery is both taught and repeated, making the imagined community ubiquitous. Language teachers should be aware of and reflect upon the everyday nationalism that is performed in ESL textbooks.

Key words: banal nationalism, TESL, language instruction, identity

Author’s Note
Trevor Gulliver is an Assistant Professor at Bishop’s University. His research explores discursive constructions of Canada and Canadianness in ESL textbooks and study guides.



How to Cite

Gulliver, T. (2011). Banal nationalism in ESL textbooks. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 34(3), 119–135. Retrieved from