Literacy versus Language: Exploring the Similarities and Differences.
Mkandawire, Sitwe Benson
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This article discusses the concepts of Literacy and Language and then state their similarities and differences in general and in relation to education. The two terminologies (literacy and language) sound familiar and highly talked about by nearly everybody yet, confounding to comprehend and to distinguish. While basic or conventional literacy is lightly understood as reading and writing skills, its conventional premises are technically profound in Language. Language on the other hand is many times viewed as means of communicating and sharing ideas. If these ideas are disseminated or communicated in writing, literacy skills are implied. These land marking similarities are crucial to pinpoint in such an article. In other words, it is immaterial to argue about the importance of language in communicating ideas, emotions and feelings in a human society because language is a tool for disseminating information in different modes. Similarly, it is irrelevant to question the importance of literacy skills in people’s lives as it helps in; getting them employed, develop individually, operate in more meaningful ways and contribute more effectively in a society. Practically, there are some members of different communities around the world who knows and can speak a language fluently, but they may be unable to read and write it. Such earmarking distinctions and similarities are the focus of this paper. In terms of differences, literacy from a broader sense, where it is defined as being knowledgeable or competent in a specific area, impinges on all domains of the society. In other words, there is no such a thing or a person as literate or illiterate without putting them into context as everybody in a broader sense is literate and illiterate in some area. While basic literacy of reading and writing skills associated with language can be a shared background among five people, their knowledge or area of expertise as professionals might be different. Hence, the need to explain some similarities and differences between literacy and language.
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