Textbooks hold a fundamental position in English Language Teaching (ELT). Today, their main aim is to contribute to the development of the learner’s communicative competence. This paper sets out to set the basis for constructing a framework for characterizing ELT textbooks, in terms of their opportunities to promote communicative competence. In order to provide a theoretical foundation for the framework, it first introduces the notions of input (Krashen, 1989) and output (Swain & Lapkin, 1995). Then, it presents two influential models of communicative competence, i.e., those of Canale and Swain (1980), and the Common European Framework for Reference of Languages (Council of Europe, 2001, 2018). Following that, it presents two significantly quoted sets of principles for the study of learning materials in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), i.e., the principles of Richards and Rodgers (2014) and Nation (2007). Building on the models and principles, the paper suggests eleven criteria for characterizing communication-oriented ELT textbooks, covering input in the form of topics and texts, and output in the form of activities. A short discussion of the main affordances of the suggested framework is provided at the end of the article.
Keywords: Communicative Competence, ELT Textbooks, Textbook Analysis, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT).