Literacy Glossary

Appendix A

Language and Literacy: Forms and Functions

Many people go into teaching and related fields because they find language intriguing. Theorists, researchers, and teachers have generated a seemingly inexhaustible list of terms that have proven themselves useful for doing our work. One way to think about these terms is to see them as a set of tools useful for supporting the language and literacy learning of students: children, adolescents, and adults.

But just as new vocabulary is continuously learned in languages, new ideas and new practices continually inform the ongoing work of literacy educators. In its forms and functions, literacy is a collection of elements that are governed by rules and structures that enable communication and the fostering of meaning. These elements, once isolated, can provide denotation for better understanding literacy. Thus, the terms in this section constitute aspects of literacy that slow down and trace maps of the internal workings of our ways with words.

These maps allow educators to plan instruction, develop curriculum, identify areas of need, and reflect on what they do with language and how they make it work for their students. Information on all the components of language and literacy are especially useful and necessary for teachers, who require this information to stay current with the field and to do the best jobs possible.

This word set includes terms from different categories such as descriptors of oral language, terms used to describe written language, ways of thinking about and categorizing the curriculum, and terms used to describe language diversity.

Just as a vocabulary test that examines depth of understanding can provide insight into a person's overall knowledge of a field, better understanding of these terms will support those who wish to improve their teaching.

Contributed Terms

Academic language
Active voice
Alphabetic principle
Alphabetic script
Analytic phonics
Base words
Compound words
Concepts about print
Consonant blend
Consonant cluster
Consonant digraph
Decoding (reading)
Derivational suffixes
Dolch list
High-frequency words

Independent reading
Language acquisition
Language learning
Multiple allophones
Passive voice
Phonemic awareness
Phonological awareness

Sight vocabulary
Signal words
Spoken language
Standard English
Synthetic phonics
Text genres
Text structures
Tiered vocabulary
21st-century literacy(ies)
Word choice
Written language

Appendix B

Language and Literacy: Practices, Skills, and Competencies Across Human Abilities

Because literacy instructional terms are used in a variety of ways in classrooms, clinics, and schools, these terms can be and often are used without precision. Specialized academic language used by professionals to refer to their work is not a new or novel practice. In fact, it is often a specialized vocabulary used with precision that separates the professional from the nonprofessional. Similarly, literacy professionals need to understand and use literacy instruction terms with precision to claim the status of a specialized professional vocabulary.

For example, consider how a literacy professional would select a precise term to refer to "the act of combining the sounds associated with a specific sequence of letters to pronounce a word" as compared with what a common or vernacular reference to this same act might be—professionals would use the term blending as opposed to the common term sounding it out. The purpose of this word set is to bring professional understanding and precision of usage to terms that refer to the work of literacy instruction.

This word set denotes action—those things that people do with language, and what language allows people to accomplish, as a tool to engage the processes of common life. In this sense, language and literacy are active, deliberately engaged by members of groups to participate in valued cultural activities across distinct levels of human ability. Human brains are as various as human groups. Moreover, as ability is a product of our socialization and a function of diverse cognitive capacities, so too is the variability outlining literacy as a form of human practice.

As educators engage in the work of literacy instruction, there are myriad academic terms that refer to a broad range of literacy instructional concepts and practices. This word set is, thus, intended to provide only a starting point.

Contributed Terms

Adequate yearly progress (AYP)
Bottom-up processing
Free recall
Interactive writing
Learning accommodation
Literacy practices

Metalinguistic awareness
Prior knowledge
Process writing
Reading Recovery
Reluctant reader
Repeated reading
Scaffolded reading
Sentence frames
Shared reading

Silent reading
Striving reader
Struggling readers
Sustained silent reading
Top-down processing
Total physical response (TPR)
Train-the-Trainer model
Transcription fluency

Appendix C

Language and Literacy: Literary, Linguistic, and Rhetorical Devices and Concepts

With new technological developments on the rise, the definition of literacy has broadened to include more than reading and writing with language-based print media. In fact, parameters have enlarged to include multimodal literacies and literary events that require participants (both teachers and students) to demonstrate competency in producing and interpreting images (moving and still), sounds, gestures, icons, and performances.

These 21st-century literacies are part and parcel of what it means to teach, learn, communicate, and engage in online environments that still include brick-and-mortar schools of earlier centuries, but increasingly point to more fluid learning spaces suitable for launching jobs and careers that have yet to be defined.

Amid this ever-changing scene, the concepts of literacy and literary are evolving in ways that affect how teachers plan their instruction, interact with students, and assess outcomes. For example, where once it was believed literacy was singular in form and tied inextricably to literary events that focused primarily on the individual, we now acknowledge literacies as social practices in which literary meaning-making is recursive and differs from one context to the next.

This is not to say that the cognitive processing of printed texts through phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and critical comprehension are unimportant—quite the opposite, in fact. Especially in today's world, there is room for, and need of, individuals who can think for themselves and critique that which seems "ordinary" (or just the way things are) while they go about creating a more just and equitable world. The basics may not have changed drastically, but the strategies for achieving them have and will continue doing so.

Before going further into the categorization of literacy and literary, it is worth pointing out that to treat these two terms as distinctively different or contrastive is to ignore their common root, namely the Latin word littera referring to an alphabetic letter, and the Latin word litterārius for literary. Moreover, both literacy and literary are terms associated with the reading and writing that occurs in ELA and literature classrooms.

This word group contains definitions of concepts that align with this worldview of literacy and literary, providing concise definitions of terms frequently associated with both concepts.

Contributed Terms

Academic intervention
Aesthetic stance
Asset-based approach
Authentic texts
Balanced literacy instruction
Blended learning
Children's literature
Close reading
Content area literacy
Content area reading
Content field or discipline
Decodable text
Deficit perspective
Digital literacies
Discourse moves
Dual language learning

Emergent literacy
Expository text
Figurative language
Flexible grouping
Frustration Level
Homogenous grouping
Independent reading level
Informal reading inventory (IRI)
Informational text
Instructional-level texts
Instructional reading level
Invented spelling
Multicultural literature
Multimodal literacies

Multimodal texts
Multisensory structured language programs
Narrative text
New literacies
Phoneme addition
Reader response
Reading coach
Reading level
Reading specialist
Running record
Schema theory
Semiotic resources
Story structure
Text complexity
Text-dependent questions
Visual literacy
Young adult literature

Appendix D

Language and Literacy: Looking Across Difference and in Sociopolitical Contexts

A broad range of fields and tendencies frame this word group. Chiefly, it draws from feminist theories and women's studies, critical and cultural linguistics, LatCrit and race studies, Vygotskian approaches, linguistic anthropology, multilingual education, and critical theory.

The terms selected are by no means exhaustive. Many important terms excluded, such as terms that are helping us further frame literacy with greater specificity: black girl literacies, culturally sustaining literacies, indigenous syllabaries and literacies, and so forth. Rather, the preference was to include words and concepts that teachers need to support them in their everyday work, as they endeavor to make more just and strategic decisions to enhance learning for all students. Practical, as opposed to deeply theoretical, concepts have been included. For example, concepts such as funds of knowledge and trauma-informed practice point teachers to where to go and what to do to engage students across a range of differences and difficulties.

Concepts such as equity vs. equality are featured here, as they explain how literacy education can refuse universalities that suggest people are the same, though it is crucial that people are positioned in the conversation of literacy to be understood and treated fairly. Associations such as gender and literacy have been included as well, because intersectional social identities matter to an understanding of literacy and the practice of teaching it.

Undergirding this word group is the knowledge that literacy has always resisted attempts to reduce it to cognitive characteristics, to practices of language and cognition divorced from the social contexts in which they are embedded. Indeed, groundbreaking research has paved a way forward to imagine literacy as situated in social, cultural, and political contexts—in laws and lives that cannot be ignored or reduced to language omitting the human presence from the human practice. In this light, literacy is as much a social and cultural (and even political) practice as it is a psycholinguistic and developmental one.

Contributed Terms

Adolescent literacy
Adult literacy
African American Language
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
Code meshing
Code switching
Community literacy
Contrastive analysis
Critical literacy
Critical media literacy
Cultural inclusiveness
Cultural perspective
Discursive spaces
Dominant/nondominant groups

Dual language
Dual language immersion
Emergent bilinguals
English as a Foreign Language
English as a Native Language
English as a Second Language
English as an Additional Language
Equity vs. Equality
Family literacy
Funds of knowledge
Gender and literacy
Heritage language learning
Hip-hop literacies
Home language(s)
Language brokering
Language levels

Lau v. Nichols
Literacy and the school-to-prison pipeline
Long-Term English learners (LTEL)
Opportunity barrier
Opportunity gap
Orality (vs. literacy)
Repertoires of practice
Second-language acquisition
Situated learning
Social context
Social justice
Stereotype threat (and literacy)
Trauma-informed practice

Appendix E

Language and Literacy: Instructional Concepts and Approaches

Teachers do not work in isolation. They are part of a profession with a shared language that enhances practitioners' ability to productively communicate and learn from and with each other. Reading and literacy educators know the importance of clear language and precise vocabulary.

Literacy professionals are part of grade-level, department and school teams. They are also part of professional organizations and learn by attending conferences, reading professional publications, and accessing online resources. They share expertise and contribute ideas and experiences in a variety of forums. Indeed, with the accelerating pace of change in education as in most sectors of our culture, it is important that teachers stay attuned to changes in language and the shifting in concepts and meanings.

The terms included in this section of the glossary relate specifically to instruction in reading and literacy. Some reflect the frameworks and outcomes considered essential. Others relate to ways teachers and schools evaluate and monitor student growth, instructional routines used by teachers to guide students' engagement with texts, and strategies students are encouraged to use in learning and constructing meaning as they read and write.

Contributed Terms

Anticipation guide
Author's chair
Bloom's Taxonomy
Book club
Buddy reading
Career and college readiness
Cooperative learning
Culturally responsive education
Dialogic reading
Differentiated instruction
Digital text
Direct instruction
Disciplinary literacy
Discussion web
Early intervention
Elkonin boxes
Essential questions
Formative assessment
Frayer model

Guided reading
Guidelines for selecting vocabulary
Inquiry approach
Integrated instruction
KWL and KWL+
Language experience approach (LEA)
Language of instruction
Literature circles
Miscue analysis
Multisyllabic or polysyllabic words
Participation structures
Partner reading
Peer responses
Peer review
Performance indicators
Project-based learning (PBL)
Question-Answer Relationship (QAR)
Quick writes
Readers Theatre

Reading circle
Reading comprehension strategies
Reading rate
Reciprocal teaching
ReQuest procedure
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Retrospective miscue analysis
Scripted instruction
Sheltered English instruction
Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP)
Silent period
Standards-based instruction
Summative assessment
Systematic instruction
Teacher conferencing
Visual texts
Whole language
Word sorting