Literacy is a term that is often used to indicate a person's success in the pursuit of his career and also the quality of his life. One of the commonest definitions of literacy that we find is that literacy is the ability to read and write sensibly. However it is more than that. Literacy is basically the way in which adults use the written information to function in the society. Literacy gives sense and meaning to life and enables the individuals to live purposefully. It enables the person to make correct sue of his life and achieves that goals that he aspires. Therefore is we possess good literacy skill, it is likely that we will be having a sound education background, a good job, decent earning source, and an access to opportunities of training and direction. Individuals who are illiterate are more likely to be unemployed and unproductive for the country or if by chance they get a job somewhere, they are either low-paid or face unsuitable working conditions.
In the recent times, the definition and meaning of literacy has undergone numerous transformations. Literacy now withholds dynamic socio cultural aspects and considered as a task that requires effort and toil. As time changes, literacy skills become vaster and hence acquiring a desired literacy level is often a complex and complicated task for a majority of people around the world.
This paper will take a deep look at the modern definition of literacy and how the teaching practices for literacy have changed with the passage of time. This paper will also discuss how has literacy been conceptualized, its socio-cultural influences and lastly its implications. Also the theory and practice of Critical Literacy will be discussed.
Literacy had been traditionally referred to as the mere ability of reading and writing. Whoever reads reasonable and writes sensible words can be considered a literate being in traditional terms. Literacy was seen as a simple, learned cognitive skill that was taught at school using traditional methods such as grammar, spelling, and phonics. Robert (1994) however believes that although reading, writing and thinking are necessary skills for one to be considered literate, literacy cannot be defined by the acquisition of these skills alone. This definition can make us understand what basically literacy is but it does not take into account the complex implications of literacy on our lives and society.
It was in 1950s onwards that literacy held a greater meaning than being just a reading and writing ability. Literacy came to be known as a complex social process that needs an alternate understanding rather than just the traditional definition. It was in the same decade that literacy was perceived as being scientific, technical, and ideological. This was taken in a sense that if a person knows how to drive a car, men a puncture, cook food, use a photo copier, mow the garden then he can be taught how to read and write ...