Literacy: what it is, types and stages of development

The learning processes by which we acquire information and knowledge are many and varied, and the research surrounding them increasingly takes into account factors and aspects that influence the development of our ability to “learn”.

One of these concepts is that of literacy, A term referring to the learning process which takes into account not only individual capacities in terms of literacy, but also the influence that the socio-cultural context and the role of the person have in this process.

    What is literacy?

    Literacy is understood as the concept that refers to the set of skills and abilities that enable a person to collect and process information in a given context by reading it and transforming it into knowledge, Which can be expressed orally or in writing.

    However, the concept of literacy is characterized by an emphasis on the socio-cultural view of learning. In other words, it transcends the boundaries of cognitive skills. Literacy not only takes into account the recognition and understanding through language, but also recognizes the influence of social context, the roles and dynamics of the reader and the writer, as well as the possible interlocutors.

      Types of literacy

      This socio-cultural conception of learning through written language specifies that various types of literacy can occur. Some of them are the vernacular literacidades, which refer to learning to read in everyday life, and the official or regulated literacidades.

      In addition, there are a large number of areas in which literacy can be provided. Learning theorists have come to propose financial literalism, workers’ literalism, critical literalism, information, digital or disciplinary literality, To name a few.

      Given this great variability within literacy, the abilities and skills that make a person an expert in a certain type of literacy are also very varied, which means that the ability to read or write is only a part of the set of faculties necessary to develop and achieve literacy in a specific area.

      key concepts

      Two concepts are essential to understand the notion of literacy. These are literacy events and literacy practices.

      1. Literacy events

      Also called literal events, they refer to all everyday or everyday situations in which written language plays a key role. These literacy events are manifested by reading signs, posters, forms, brochures or documents.

      However, for these actions to be considered as literacy, the person must have in his repertoire of skills the knowledge of the rules and conformities that are tacitly found in the situation, called literacy practices.

      2. Literacy practices

      Literacy practices, or literacy practices, encompass the social and cultural rules and conformities named above. These add meaning to the situation or context in which the act of reading occurs.

      What are the principles to govern it?

      From what has been described by the theories that define the concept of literacy, we can break down a number of principles that govern it. These principles are specified in the following statements:

      • Acquiring and learning literacy is possible by combining explicit and implicit learning. In addition, these are given gradually so that they can be improved and perfected.
      • For literacy to occur, it is necessary mediation or influence of socio-cultural factors.
      • These skills can be acquired beyond the school setting and can be developed regardless of socio-cultural group or age.
      • In addition to the ability to understand written letters and symbolsLiteracy requires knowledge and interpretation of all kinds of representations of information, such as, for example, icons and graphics.

      Finally, to acquire literacy, people need situations or contexts with a meaningful purpose that enables them to put literacy into practice. In the same way, all kinds of opportunities must be presented to apply them in different situations that motivate this.

      How does it develop and express itself in learning?

      Although there is no “protocol” or fixed and predetermined steps which regulate the process of learning literacy, one can distinguish a series of phases which, although they appear in a diffuse way, can be distinguished. serve to guide us in how people acquire these abilities.

      There are three times when literacy thrives: emerging literacy, formal learning, and literacy.

      1. Emerging literacy

      From the first years of people’s lives, they are exposed to all kinds of information and messages represented in writing, which interpret and work with their uses and meanings.

      Before starting school, the child is surrounded by books, advertisements, brochures and catalogs and all kinds of press or documents with letters and symbols, all associated with the culture to which the child belongs. .

      This phenomenon, which occurs long before literacy or formal learning, is called emergent literacy and may be reflected in a child’s ability to know how to use a book or what the symbols they perceive refer to.

      2. Formal learning

      Then begins the school stage during which the person acquires the formal skills that enable literacyIn addition to phonological skills, what begins with self-learning (learning to read and write) will become a means of learning other knowledge.

      3. Literacy

      Along with formal learning, the person acquires, gradually and through the experiences of his daily life, all the necessary skills that make up literacy.

      These situations favor the improvement of these capacities which will arrive to become specific literacidades for each of the subjects.

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