March Paragraph Diary 8

Lit Review

I’m feeling great about my progress with Thai language over the last month (no, not ten days!). Since moving back I’ve focused on literacy in a way I never did before (I essentially ignored it!)

“Literacy” wiki: Literacy is traditionally meant as the ability to read and write . The modern term’s meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge, solve mathematical problems and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture.

In the wide world of global ELT, I’d say ‘literacy’ to connote the initial, basic meaning above isn’t a high-frequency word (from my perch anyway – is it where you are?). I’ve surely never heard it uttered in Thailand ELT. Phonics, reading skills, writing skills, sure. But never this L-word. It wasn’t always exactly thus for me in localized terms. I believe the main phase of my career than involved a focus on what was termed ‘literacy’ was working in ESOL in Massachusetts, often with beginners, sometimes with low-literate L1 learners. For example, Somali immigrants who never learned to write. I taught one how to hold a pencil and went from there. I find myself thinking of her often as I struggle to simply trace Thai characters in the correct direction, or sound out the simplest of words in the most basic of sentences.

By the end of her course she had produced a picture book about her life. Mostly about the goats she took care of as a child. Her and her work on that course will continue to serve as my model and I hope one day soon to post my own picture book in Thai. Maybe focused on the cats and dogs I grew up with, and definitely dedicated to a student from rural Somalia living in Boston, Massachusetts who showed me what literacy work looks like.

One thought on “March Paragraph Diary 8

  1. I’ve often run a literacy session on CELTA, which is one of my favourite ones to run. It uses Wingdings as the characters, so nobody has an advantage by already recognising some of the letters. I’m really evil to them and make them write quickly, don’t give them enough time to look at the words before they have to remember them, and so on. I think (hope!) that it gives trainees just a little taste of what it feels like to be in that situation.
    On another note, when I was learning a bit of Thai and was trying to read things, I used to describe the letters in funny ways to remember them. I remember a lot of worms were involved, though I don’t remember exactly. Something like ‘worm eating apple’, ‘worm waving’ 🙂 What do you use to remember?


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