Literacy development is the process of growth & change related to literacy.
So then defining literacy development depends in part on how we define literacy. Traditionally, literacy refers to reading & writing. However, as our knowledge of language & development have grown, so too has our understanding of literacy.
Read Literacy Then & Now
No matter how it is defined, literacy is inherently connected to both language & learning.
Let’s take a look at each…
The language development process directly impacts the process of literacy development. In fact, literacy development is a later stage of the language development process.
Language development begins with listening & speaking.
Written language development, or traditional literacy development follows fluency.
As with measuring fluency, it can be challenging to measure literacy. As with oral language, there are stages of literacy. We refer to these as: pre-literate, emergent, experimental, independent, & literate.
Further, there are now additional kinds of literacies, such as visual or math literacy, as well as varying standards in diverse contexts.
Just as there are a range of definitions for literacy, there are also many approaches to how literacy relates to learning. Some postulate literacy occurs as a natural process, like language development. Most agree literacy must be taught.
As with language, we know that immersion is key. In order to speak, you first have to hear many spoken words.
Similarly, in order to read & write, you have to be immersed in written language. For many of us, it is hard to fathom an environment where such immersion would not naturally occur. We may never experience a truly non-literate society.
As with language, scaffolding can be offered, & for literacy, it just might be essential. The question then becomes how to go about literacy education.
Chirp’s perspective is that literacy education is specific communication about language and/or learning development with opportunities for practice.
Chirp discusses literacy development in six categories: fluency, communication, development, reading, writing & cultural competency. The pursuit of literacy will be most effective when we consider it strategically & in context.
Why Literacy Development Matters
Literacy is used as an indicator of development in cities, states & nations. It has been connected to health & economics, to individuals & to whole societies. By some it is viewed as a right, by others a measure of potential. Despite the spectrum of views, many agree literacy matters & that its’ pursuit offers benefits to individuals & nations.
You may agree illiteracy is a global concern & advocacy is a global response, but wonder what you can do. Grassroots efforts often pave the way for systemic change. So why not check out the statistics where you are… link coming soon!