Literacy defines the personal level of proficiency in a native language. In common sense it mainly involves good reading, writing and speaking skills. However, full language literacy also includes abilities for critical understanding and analysis of the written or printed text; accurate and intelligible speech and writing; capacity to take informed decisions and generate creative thoughts on the basis of information learned from text.
The question of the importance of literacy is often discussed today. Numerous word processing programs may correct spelling and grammatical errors. World history provides many examples, when illiterate or people unable to read became famous and achieved success. Homer was supposedly blind but this didn’t hinder him from becoming the greatest ancient Greek epic poet and to write the Iliad and the Odyssey. William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England, never spoke English and was illiterate but had a great influence on the evolution of the English language. Nowadays many politicians, athletes and other celebrities also cannot boast of having perfect skills in the language arts. So, why should people spend time learning boring rules and subtle points of a writing system?
Let’s think, what are the benefits of being literate?
First of all, literacy is the primary form of information transmission today. That is why being literate is one of the basic factors on the way to the best achievements in education and career, especially in intellectual and high-tech areas. Most of people in our time would struggle to learn if they were unable to read. The lack of reading skills obstructs children and adults from reaching their full potential as it prevents them from accessing the fundamental sources of knowledge. Being a fluent reader gives many favorable opportunities.
Literacy is needed to be able to state thoughts correctly, to put the ideas in words and to express them, to ask questions in a right way. In other words, literacy helps people to understand each other better. Besides, incorrect writing and speaking requires from readers and listeners additional efforts to interpret the meaning of the text. So being literate is also considered as a sign of politeness.
Literacy saves time. The readers may easily understand what was said or written and there is no need to spend time on extra explanations of something that was misunderstood.
Literacy indicates that a person strives to improve himself. Very few people are lucky enough to possess a native intuitive literacy. Others have to work hard to obtain it and these efforts deserve respect. It is always pleasant to communicate with a literate person and the correct speech may be a great support at an interview or can help to make a good impression on your girlfriend’s parents. At the same time mistakes in oral speech or writing may incur ridicule and mockery.
The clue to literacy is development of reading skills, improvement of auditory perception and deep comprehension of text. The fundamental components of fluent reading and understanding include phonetics (the study of speech sounds), orthography (the spelling system), morphology (the study of the forms of words), grammar (the arrangement of words and phrases) and semantics (the word meaning). However, only extensive practice and study may create a platform for full language literacy.
Literacy is one of the keys to knowledge and education; it develops humans’ minds and allows them to achieve their goals; it is an intangible sign that unites people via time and space by means of unbiased words. Sure, literacy by itself is not an earnest of success, other talents and skills are also needed for personal progress. But no doubt that literacy makes it easier to cope with many life challenges and contributes into cultivation of intelligence and culture of each person.