The theories and concepts which relate to literacy can be understood based on different viewpoints and perceptions. This paper seeks to present a critical analysis about the concept of literacy. It will seek to communicate how selected studies contribute to my understanding of literacy theories and issues, and how these studies have practical applications for teachers and trainers in adult and vocational education or for students in the university. This essay is being carried out in order to establish an improved conceptualization of literacy and how its elements can impact on the overall education and development of students and learners. Body Literacy in its most basic context refers to the ability to read in order to gain knowledge and coherently and critically conceptualize the written word (Kress, 2003). Literacy also refers to the ability to understand the different means of communication, including language, videos, and images (Kress, 2003). Changing conceptualizations of literacy include various symbols which are crucial to any community. Literacy includes various complex skills which seek to understand and utilize major symbols of culture for general development (Kress, 2003). For technological societies, the idea of literacy is developing to encompass the media and the electronic tools, including the alphabets and numerical systems. These areas are different and based on varying social and cultural applications (Street, 1984). Literacy is still equivalent to a lifelong and intellectual progression of establishing meaning of the written words (Goody, 1986). The idea of literacy is to establish development, to improve skills, which starts with the power to understand words and to deconstruct them. In the end, these processes lead to a deeper understanding of the text (Goody, 1986). The development of reading includes different and complex language processes which include an understanding of speech, spelling, word meaning, grammar, as well as word formation (Goody, 1986). All of these establish a strong avenue for the development of fluency in reading and comprehension. As these skills are gained, readers can then ensure strong literacy in language and communication, which then includes the power to understand printed materials and conduct critical analysis or make inferences (Graff, 1991). With these skills, it is also possible to develop accuracy and coherence and to use data from the text to make decisions and develop creative ideas. The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) declares that literacy is based on the power to identify, interpret, and communicate related ideas (UNESCO, 2004). Literacy includes a wide array of learning processes which help enable individuals to secure their goals, to support knowledge, and to take part in their society. Being literate is associated with the idea of one’s familiarity with literature (UNESCO, 2004). In the 19th century, it has also been related to one’s abilities to read and write and to be educated in a particular field. Scholars have given much attention to defining literacy, and their activities have had much impact on various approaches to practice as well as policies (Bowman and Woolf, 1994). Scholars from various fields of psychology, economics, linguistics, philosophy and history have been involved in the highly contentious process of defining literacy and what it implies for education and knowledge (Graff, 1991). In considering these discussions, there are several possible understandings of literacy: literacy as an independent set of skills; literacy as applied in practice and also contextual; literacy as a learning process; and literacy as text (UNESCO, 2006). In relation ...
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