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ERIC Number: EJ1066598
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Apr
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1533-242X
Defining Literacy and Illiteracy
Horning, Alice S.
Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, v7 n1 p69-84 Apr 2007
To understand the problem of illiteracy, a detailed review of the definitions of literacy and illiteracy is in order. A full definition of these terms in the current print and electronic context of adult American society in school and out of school, and for adult learners of English as both a first and a second language is presented here. Strong, explicit definitions can serve as the basis of recommendations for specific steps to expand and improve the teaching of critical literacy in schools and colleges, in community-based programs for basic education, and in second language learning contexts. These steps include, first, a move toward Reading Across the Curriculum, not only in higher education but also in K-12 public schools, community programs, adult basic education and ESL programs. A second step should be for educators to connect with librarians, newspapers and organizations like the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Institute for Literacy to address the problem of illiteracy. These steps and others should be part of a widespread renewed focus on the kind of critical literacy described here as the ability to read and write effectively, efficiently and critically is the linchpin in full participation in a democratic society.
Reading Matrix, Inc. University of South Florida Polytechnic, College of Human and Social Sciences, Division of Education, 3433 Winter Lake Road LMD 8038, Lakeland, FL 33805. Tel: 863-667-7712; Fax: 863-667-7098; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A