Glossary of Literacy Terms
accommodation n. something that meets a need.
acronym n. a word formed from the initial letters of a name, as in NIFL for National Institute for Literacy
active reading constructing meaning from text by transforming and integrating textual information into existing networks of knowledge and experience.
adult basic education (ABE) a term applied to "the education of adults in the areas of primary knowledge such as literacy and numeracy, of social and life skills, and of understanding of community life necessary to responsible participation in society" (UNESCO, 1978).
adult literacy a level of literacy that enables a person in or about to enter the workforce to function effectively both as an individual and as a member of society; functional adult literacy. Note: "The issue that the term 'adult' raises derives from the need to include social relevancy in the definition of literacy" (Venezky et al., 1990). Numerous agencies exist for the study of adult literacy and the dissemination of information about adult literacy resources. See also functional literacy; literacy.
basic literacy communicative competence in an oral culture that does not have a writing system. See also literacy.
basic skills a general term referring primarily to cognitive and language-related skills such as speaking, listening, reading, writing, and mathematics, which are needed for many school learning tasks.
behavioral objective a statement of the nature and degree of measurable performance that is expected for a specified instructional outcome, as setting a goal of writing a short essay without spelling errors.
behavior modification the systematic application of the principals of learning theory to change behavior by modifying events that precede or follow the behavior.
bibliophile n. a connoisseur of or enthusiast for books.
biliteracy n. the ability to read and write in more than one language. Cp. bilingualism. adj. biliterate.
classroom literate a person competent in reading, writing, and speaking the language of the academic world, but not necessarily that of the "real world."
cognitive deficit difficulty with perception, reasoning, judgement, intuition, memory, or conception that interferes with learning and the acquisition of knowledge.
community language 1. Language representative of an identifiable group of persons with similar traits, backgrounds, or interests. 2. (Austral., Brit.) the language of immigrant groups.
community literacy reading, other than that done in school, "associated with participation in neighborhood activities and in government, church, and social organizations" (Arthur & Greany, 1991) as the reading of signs, documents, regulations, etc.
competency-based education 1. a type of education "deriving from the specification, learning, and demonstration of the knowledge, skills, behaviour, and attitudes required for a given role, profession or career" (UNESCO, 1978).
computer-based instruction computer-assisted instruction resulting in learning specific areas of information.
computer literacy possession of the skills and knowledge necessary for operating a computer.
core vocabulary basic words and their definitions important in the understanding of a specific skill area or field
cultural literacy literacy that reflects knowledge of significant ideas, events, values, etc., of a society, as in advanced literacy.
curriculum n. the courses of study offered by an educational program. 2. a group of related courses, often in a special field of study
developmental adj. the sequential acquisition of the ability to learn, reason. and analyze that begins in infancy and progresses as the individual matures
distance education education that provides instruction to learners who are physically separated from teachers. Examples are telecourses taught through computers connected to modems, TV, or video tape.
dysgraphia n.1. inability to write properly usually due to brain disease or injury. 2. Writer's cramp.
dyslexia n. an imprecise term concerning a condition in which an individual with normal vision is unable to interpret written language. This results in an inability to spell and write words without having difficulty recognizing the meaning of objects and pictures.
dysnomia n. forgetting words or having difficulty in finding words for written or oral expression
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center, sponsored by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education, is a national educational information system designed to provide hard-to-find educational materials, such as research reports, literature reviews, curriculum guides, conference papers, projects or program reviews, and government reports.
educational technology the body of educational methods and resources used in instruction. Note: Beyond media hardware and software, educational technology involves the design, development, and management of learning processes through instructional systems.
English for/to speakers of Other languages (ESOL) a term used instead of English as a Second Language (ESL) that recognizes that learners may learn English as a one of multiple languages.
family literacy literacy efforts or activities involving more than one generation. Note: A family literacy program generally has three components: literacy for children (including study skills), literacy for parents (e.g., GED instruction), and instruction for adults on how to foster literacy in their children or other young relatives.
f1uency n. the ability to express oneself readily and effortlessly in writing or speaking.
fluent reader 1. a reader whose performance exceeds normal expectation with respect to age and ability; independent reader. 2. any person who reads smoothly, without hesitation and with comprehension.
functional literacy 1. a level of reading and writing sufficient for everyday life but not for completely autonomous activity. 2. the application of the skills and knowledge of reading and writing to adult or near-adult responsibilities in the workplace; adult literacy; functional adult literacy; pragmatic literacy; required literacy.
functional reading 1. reading for practical purposes, as to get information. 2. the level of reading skill needed to get along in a society. See also functional literacy (defs. 1-3 and essay). 3. environmental print encountered.
guided reading reading activities that reinforce the concept that reading is a dynamic process of interacting with text and the reader's background knowledge to assimilate new insights.
grade-level equivalent a form for expressing a learner's reading or writing performance in grade level terms based on testing
Hyperterminology from Hell*
Hyperception n An altered state of consciousness induced by reading hypertext and characterized by the inability to focus on single, distinct ideas. Cognitive astigmatism
Hyperemptory adj Exceptionally abrupt, as a direct hypertext link to a random location in RAM
Hyperennial n Any topic of which computer journalists annually announce that this is The Year, such as UNIX, networking, OS/2, AI, multimedia, desktop fill-in-the-blank, or hypertext
Hyperenthetical adj Characterized by being a digression within a digression (within a digression...). The variation in spelling is not arbitrary. The Indo-European root from which the "par" of parenthetical derives is spelled with an e, and means to grant reciprocally, with the idea of getting something back. The Indo-European tradition that one ought to be able to get something back, or just to get back, from a digression, perished with their culture
Hyperformance n Multidimensional ineptitude
Hyperfume n The smell of hype
Hypergonomics n An academic's idea of a catchy term
Hyperhaps n Goings-on in hyperspace
Hyperimeter n A multidimensional boundary separating the obvious from the irrelevant
Hyperiodical n Any nonlinear serial publication; a journal that appears regularly but not regular
Hyperipatetic adj Lost in hyperspace
Hyperipheral adj Lying beyond the hyperimeter, as opposed to ordinary lying
Hyperscope n A hypertext navigational aid used when maps and browsers fail; in - earlier days called a "core dump."
Hypermanent store n 1. The locus of data protected from accidental deletion by virtue of being lost; hypertext's contribution to the architecture of write-only memory. 2. a bouffant boutique
Hypermute v.t. To rearrange hypertext links randomly. To engage in data annealing
Hyperparallel adj Skew
Hyperpendicular adj Skew
Hyperpetrate v.t. To implement a hypertext system
Hyperpilosity n A measure of the hairness of a hypertext system
Hyperplex n A movie theater of the 1990s. If as has been suggested by no less eminent hypermedia experts than Ted Nelson and Paul Heckel the future of the personal computer can be read on the silver screen, we should expect the workstation of 1999 to run more expensive software with less content and more flash, and to display it on six tiny monitors
Hypersian n Persian poet Omar Khayyam, who wrote one of the oldest known non-linear documents (later linearized by Edward Fitzgerald as the Rubaiyat) and who left this advice to readers of hypertext:Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why;
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.
Hyperu n The Andes
Hyperversion number n A complexity measure for hypertext documents
Hypervert interj A greeting from one hypertext system designer to another
Hyperiscope n A hypertext navigational
Hypuree n Hypertext with the links removed
Hypurgahve n Garbage collection for hypertext.
Hypurpose n A noble ambition worthy of significant financial backing but incapable of being expressed in terms that mere linearists can understand
Hypursuant adj In accordance with in a higher dimension, as in, "Hypursuant to your directive that the staff dress more formally while in the office, I am taking-Friday afternoon off to go to the beach"
illiterate 1.adj. unable to read. 2. adj. unable to read or write 3. adj. not meeting the educational expectations of a social group, usually the dominant group; unschooled. 4. adj. uncultured; unread. 5. adj. without competence in any content field. 6. n. a person who cannot read and write.
immersion n. in the teaching of foreign languages, the practice of communicating only in the language being taught.
Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) a written instructional plan that a team composed of school staff, the learner, and support personnel develops that includes current educational strengths and weaknesses, goals and objectives, educational services, start-up dates for services, and procedures for program evaluation.
individualized instruction instruction that adapted to a particular learner's individual needs and learning styles.
jargon n. 1. nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk. 2. a hybrid language or dialect. 3. the specialized or technical language of a trade
knowledge n. 1. the state or fact of knowing 2. familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
language n. 1. the speech, vocabulary, and grammatical system shared by people of the same nation, region, community, or cultural tradition, as Swedish, Basque, or Cajun. 2. oral communication through speech with arbitrary, accepted symbols and meanings. 3. linguistics; specifically, the theoretical study of the nature of language. 4. any particular system of communication by a. special symbols, as the language of mathematics, music, Braille, etc.
learning disability 1. a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or mathematical abilities. [Note:] (Presumably, these disorders are due to central nervous system dysfunction resulting from such factors as anatomical differences, genetics, neuromaturational delay, neurochemical or metabolic imbalance, and severe nutritional deficiency or trauma.) Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g., sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance) or environmental influences (e.g., cultural differences, insufficient/inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors), it is not the direct result of those conditions or influences" (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, 1980). 2. in certification for special ; classes or funding in the United States, "a disorder of one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Such disorders include such conditions as perceptual handicaps, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include...learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disturbance, or of environmental disadvantage" (HEW Standard Terminology, 1975).
literacy n. Note: Few agree a single definition of literacy. 1. the ability of a person "who can with understanding both read and write a short, simple statement on his everyday life" (UNESCO, 1951) 2. a continuum of skills, including both reading and writing, applied in a social context UNESCO, 1957). 3. "the possession by an individual of the essential knowledge and skills which enable him or her to engage in all those activities required for effective functioning in his or her group and community and whose attainments in reading, writing, and arithmetic make it possible for him or her to use these skills toward his or her own and the community's development" (UNESCO, 1962) 4. "the ability of a person to engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning in his group and community and also for enabling him to continue to use reading, writing, and calculation for his own and the community's development" (UNESCO, 1978). 5. competence in a special field, as computer literacy. Note: The extension of the term literacy to competence in virtually all fields of knowledge, as computer literacy, and phenomena, as media literacy, is relatively recent. 6.a minimal ability to read and write in a designated language, as well as a mindset or way of thinking about the use of reading and writing in everyday life.
literate 1. adj. able to read and write. 2. adj. in language use, marked by skillful. clear, and refined expression. 3. adj. acquainted with a field of knowledge, especially of literature; well read. Note: The extension of the term to virtually all fields of knowledge is a relatively recent phenomenon.
multisensory approachan instructional approach in which the teacher uses more than one of the learners senses to teach a particular lesson.
multilevel approach the use of reading materials of different levels of difficulty in teaching reading as one way of recognizing individual differences in reading competence.
multimedia n. 1. the combined use of several media, esp. for the purpose of education or entertainment. 2. the integration of text, sound, full or partial motion video, or graphics in digital form as in hypermedia.
native language 1. the first language one learns to speak and understand; mother tongue; primary language. Note: A native language is generally that which is naturally acquired in childhood, although some speakers may develop native-like control of additional languages. 2. the primary or oldest language still spoken in a community , district, or country.
nonreader n. 1. a person who is unable to read even after extensive instruction; one who fails to learn to read. 2. one with an extremely severe reading disability. 3. an illiterate 4. one who knows how to read but chooses not to; an illiterate
oral culture 1. a culture whose values, attitudes, and beliefs are transmitted through oral language, as most North American Indian cultures in the l9th century. 2. a culture that values the ability to speak effectively more than the ability to read and write.
outcome-based education an educational program that relies on performance assessment to determine its effectiveness.
outreach literacy program an alternative literacy program offered in a location that makes it easier for members of the community to attend and encourages attendance of those who tend to resist institutional education.
politics of literacy the power struggle in the advocacy and realization of literacy programs: a. to enhance the presumed aspirations of all people with respect to command of language, economic well-being, and social status. b. to exercise economic and social constraints on literacy education in order to create an elite of the literate with dominance over the illiterate.
polyglot an individual that is fluent in more than two languages; multilingualism.
preliterate adj. 1. referring to a culture not having or leaving a written record. 2. referring to a child, usually before entering school or in kindergarten, who has not yet learned to read. n. preliteracy.
quantitative literacy fluency in reading and writing computational data. 2. numeracy
reading achievement the level of reading ability at which an individual is estimated to be functioning. Note: Such estimates may be based on: a. the person's performance on a standardized or informal reading test. b. the level of basal reader being used for reading instruction. c. teacher judgment. d. the reading group in which a student is placed. e. the nature and number of trade books read by the student. f. some combination of these features.
reading comprehension 1. the act or result of applying comprehension processes to attain the meaning of a graphic communication; reading. 2. one or more of several levels of a presumed hierarchy of reading comprehension processes: a. getting the literal meaning. b. getting the interpretive or suggested meaning in reading. c. evaluating what is read in a critical way.
reading to learn the use of reading skills to acquire knowledge, broaden understandings, and develop appreciations.
remedial reading 1. specialized reading instruction adjusted to the needs of a student who does not perform satisfactorily with regular reading instruction. 2. intensive, specialized reading instruction for students reading considerably below expectancy. 3. developmental reading instruction set at a different pace and designed for an individual student or a selected group..
remediation n.. the process of correcting or strengthening areas of academic weakness.
semantics n. (with sing. n) 1. the study of or science of meaning in language forms. 2. of or related to meaning esp. meaning in language
semiliterate 1. adj. able to read and write only with difficulty. 2. adj. able to read but not write. 3. adj. not proficient or not well informed in literacy acts. 4. n. a person with any of these characteristics. n. semiliteracy.
tactile adj. 1. having to do with the sense of touch; tactual. Also, learning that embodies touching material to be learned Cp. kinesthesis.
task analysis a systematic study of the components of a skill or other activity for determining a sequence for learning.
television literacy 1. competence in using television to enhance daily life and to acquire social power. Also teleliteracy. 2. competence in interpreting the successive patterns, or mosaics, of television stimuli that are characterized by low visual orientation and high involvement with maximal interplay of all the senses.
unlettered adj. 1. illiterate 2. uneducated.
unread adj. 1. illiterate 2. not knowledgeable in a specific subject.
vernacular 1. n. the standard native, spoken language of a country or locality. 2. n. the every day language spoken by a people as distinguished from the literary language. 3. n. the idiom of a special trade or profession.
vernacular literacy the ability to read, write, and sometimes speak the common language of a speech community; popular literacy.
virtual reality a computer simulation of a real or imaginary system that enables a user to perform operations on the simulated system and shows the effects in real time.
visual literacy the ability to interpret and communicate with respect to visual symbols in media other than print, as visual literacy in viewing television, art, nature, etc.
volunteer literacy programs programs in adult basic education that "are staffed by volunteers, as in the pioneer work of Alfred Fitzpatrick in Canada, the 'moonlight schools' of Cara Stewart, the 'citizenship schools' of Miles Horton in the United States, and the Literacy House of Welthy Honsinger Fisher in India".
workplace literacy literacy of the specific workplace or occupation; workforce literacy.
writing to learn the use of writing to learn reading. In writing to read, students help themselves read; in reading to write, students help themselves write.
Hyperterminology from Hell
by Michael Swaine
from Adult Literacy & Technology Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 2 - Spring 1990
The Literacy Dictionary
Theodore L. Harris
Richard E. Hodges
International Reading Association
For copy information call 1-302-731-1600