This paper reports a comparative analysis of English textbooks from China, Japan, and Thailand. The motivation behind this work lies in the belief that these analyses shed important light on the classroom content of teaching English as a foreign language. In this study, English letters and words are introduced as well as wh-interrogative questions in all three countries' textbooks. The comparison of the content in Chinese and Thai textbooks with Japanese ones can be used to improve future Japanese textbooks in the four following ways.
First, before Japanese students start to learn to read and write English letters and words, they should be exposed to more written English, using letters and words with pictures and photographs as well as seeing only the visuals and hearing the words related to them. Then, English letters and words become more natural for the students when they open their textbooks.
Second, Japanese teachers should have a better approach, in which students are exposed to letters and motivated to learn English. One way is by using drawings of a standard English keyboard. Also, in consideration of the learning/developmental stage, the content in Chinese textbooks seems to be more varied; therefore, tasks appear to be more practice-oriented and imaginative than that in Japanese textbooks. For example, a short story called ‘Fun time' is added to each unit of the Chinese textbooks. These stories have an unexpected twist of events at the end. Students may be attracted to such stories and then feel motivated to learn more English.
Third, like Thai primary textbooks, we should produce a textbook with various tasks including students expressing feelings and reflecting on the English learning. It encourages students to develop their English skills, such as conveying their feelings to peers and motivating themselves in English learning.
Fourth, when it comes to teaching English to 5th and 6th grade students at primary school in Japan, we should produce textbooks with more English sentences and useful expressions with wh-interrogative questions. This will help them to develop their English ability in oral communication and also to improve their reading and writing.