Functional Illiteracy

Topics: Literacy, Functional illiteracy, Reading Pages: 49 (19463 words) Published: March 14, 2015
Functional illiteracy is reading and writing skills that are inadequate "to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level".[1] Functional illiteracy is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or write simple sentences in any language. Foreigners who cannot read and write in the native language where they live may also be considered functionally illiterate. Contents

1 Characteristics
2 Links with poverty and crime
3 Remedial reading
4 Reasons for functional illiteracy
5 Problems functional illiterates face
6 Monetary costs of functional illiteracy
7 Prevalence
8 Research findings
9 Ending Functional Illiteracy
9.1 What is causing English to be difficult to read?
9.2 How did English spelling become so confusing?
9.3 Conventional wisdom on spelling
9.4 Spelling Reform Proposals
10 See also
11 Notes
12 External links
Functional illiteracy is imprecisely defined, with different criteria from nation to nation, and study to study.[2] However, a useful distinction can be made between pure illiteracy andfunctional illiteracy. Purely illiterate persons cannot read or write in any capacity, for all practical purposes. In contrast, functionally illiterate persons can read and possibly write simple sentences with a limited vocabulary, but cannot read or write well enough to deal with the everyday requirements of life in their own society. For example, an illiterate person may not understand the written words cat or dog, may not recognize the letters of the alphabet, and may be unable to write their own name. In contrast, a functionally illiterate person may well understand these words and more, but might be incapable of reading and comprehending job advertisements, past-due notices, newspaper articles, banking paperwork, complex signs and posters, and so on. The characteristics of functional illiteracy vary from one culture to another, as some cultures require better reading and writing skills than others. A reading level that might be sufficient to make a farmer functionally literate in a rural area of a developing country might qualify as functional illiteracy in an urban area of a technologically advanced country. In languages with regular spelling, functional illiteracy is usually defined simply as reading too slow for practical use, inability to effectively use dictionaries and written manuals, etc. There are several methods of determining functional illiteracy. By far the most accurate is the method in which those trying to determine if persons are functionally literate or not have a financial interest in being accurate, such as trying to hire workers who can read and write well enough to be able to earn more for their employer than the wages they earn. The most statistically accurate and comprehensive study of U.S. adults, described in detail in the Prevalence section later, included a study of the yearly earnings of the interviewees grouped into one of five levels of functional literacy by testing their response to written material they were given to read. §Links with poverty and crime[edit]

In developed countries, the level of functional literacy of an individual is proportional to income level and risk of committing crime. For example: Over 60% of adults in the US prison system read at or below the fourth grade level[3] Up to 80% of adults in the US prison system are non-readers.[4] Florida Judge Charles Phillips stated, "Eighty percent of the new criminals who pass my desk would not be here if they had graduated from high school and could read and write."[5] From a recent census of prisoners more than twenty-five years of age, 75 percent are not high school graduates and 35–42 percent of them had not completed ninth grade, as compared to 38 percent of the total adult population who have not graduated high school.[6] 85% of US juveniles appearing before the court are functionally...
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