UTTA Literacy:

Literacy issues form a part of language learning. Teachers involved in ESL, ESOL or EFL or any modern language teaching should be aware of literacy issues, both mechanical and conceptual, when differentiating between students and selecting teaching styles.

Literacy is a phenomenon in a constant state of flux. Our expectations vary, and the methods by which literacy is judged are constantly changing with the advent and development of social media. Literacy teaching to native English speakers is often bound up with learning difficulties and catering for different types of reading impediment, whether inherent or socially induced.

To teach literacy to non-native speakers a teacher should understand whether and to what degree the learner is literate in a first language, and, if so, whether that language differes a great deal from their spoken language . Most Britons tend to think that a language used for writing is similar to the language they speak. Some even feel the spoken language has mysteriously been invented by the written word...!

For many speakers of non-European languages, the language of literacy may be a different language from the language of speaking, or it may be a different and much more formalised version of that language. This means that they may not have achieved true literacy - but just a method of coding. Literacy is much easier acquired in a second language if literacy is well-established in the first.

It's also important to be aware that other learning difficulties may come into play when teaching literacy - that some students may have the double disadvantage of a foreign language and a learning issue such as - at the very least - dyslexia - which may prevent progress in some aspects of language and learning.

In addition, literacy may be differently acquired at different ages. It's therefore very important to match literacy learning to age and previous experience.

Because UTTA courses are mostly foreign or second language, the importance of recognising literacy issues becomes one of protecting the self-esteem of the learner and finding ways to develop their skills commensurate to their needs. As is the case with SEN students, occasions may arise when work needs to be differentiated to allow for all learning groups and this is an area in which we excel.

So whilst we do not usually offer literacy courses, an awareness of literacy issues is important to all our classes, and in some groups may become an overriding consideration.