Inside Literacy

What comes to mind when you think about literacy? Do you think about reading? What about writing? How about speaking? Do you think about listening?

Well, literacy is all four of these things. The National Literacy Trust defines literacy as the ability to read, write, speak, and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world.

Literacy in Reading

Reading is the action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud. (dictionary.com)

All five components of reading are necessary for students to become successful readers. The five components of reading are phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

  • Component 1 – Phonemic Awareness Phonemic Awareness is a skill that can be learned “in the dark” because it’s all about hearing, identifying, and manipulating sounds.
  • Component 2 – Phonics Phonics is the skill of being able to take a sound and attaching it to a symbol. In other words, phonics is matching sounds to a letter or a group of letters. Phonics is used to sound out and blend words to so that students can read words when they see them.
  • Component 3 – Vocabulary Vocabulary refers to words we use to communicate effectively. It is important because it’s necessary for reading comprehension and because it is the key to understanding abstract ideas and deeper content.
  • Component 4 – Fluency Fluency is being able to read text with expression, quickly, and correctly. When students are able to do read words and phrases correctly, quickly, and with expression, they can easily comprehend the text because less time is used to figure out words and phrases.
  • Component 5 – Comprehension Comprehension is the action or capability of understanding something. Reading comprehension is the ability to process text, understand its meaning, and to integrate with what the reader already knows (Wikipedia).

Literacy in Writing

Writing is the process of using symbols (letters of the alphabet, punctuation and spaces) to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form. (englishclub.com)

Writing is important for students to communicate effectively.  Students must practice writing everyday to become good at it.

Literacy in Speaking

Speaking is the delivery of language through the mouth. To speak, we create sounds using many parts of our body, including the lungs, vocal tract, vocal chords, tongue, teeth and lips. (englishclub.com)

One way to practice speaking is by asking open-ended questions, questions that require more than a yes or no response. This encourages talking and inspires discussion. Another way to practice speaking is by retelling or summarizing a story orally. Yet another way is to have students speak clearly whenever they are talking.

Literacy in Listening

Listening involves identifying the sounds of speech and processing them into words and sentences. When we listen, we use our ears to receive individual sounds (letters, stress, rhythm and pauses) and we use our brain to convert these into messages that mean something to us. (englishclub.com)

As you can see, literacy involves more than just reading. Writing, speaking, and listening are a part of literacy and has to be developed just like reading. I hope this inside look at literacy gives you knowledge and ideas for you to use with your students or children helping them become literacy leaders.


Melanie Matthews
Author
Melanie Matthews
Melanie Matthews is a District Literacy Coach at Washington-Parks Academy and Lincoln-King Academy. She provides classroom support, workshops, and resources to support K-3 teachers around literacy instruction and implementation.