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The Role of Literacy in Effective Communication

Literacy is much more than the ability to read and write. Students need literacy to participate in everyday life, and reading fluency impacts students’ ability to be successful in school and beyond. Literacy encompasses reading books but also text messages, emails, labels and street signs — and the same is true for writing.

The online Master of Science in Education (MSEd) with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy program from Southern Oregon University (SOU) helps students improve their literacy skills to communicate effectively. This online program specializes in advanced coursework created to meet an array of objectives that address the literacy needs of every student.

Why Literacy Is Important

Literacy is the capacity to read, write, listen and speak in a way that enables us to communicate effectively and understand the world around us. When students lack essential literacy skills, they can face hardships in daily life, including difficulty in school, problems finding a job, inequality and issues in accessing health care.

Literacy and language proficiency can help communities raise children who are strong readers, active in their communities, advocates for themselves and others, healthy and informed voters. In addition, valuable literacy skills can open many doors and encourage other skills such as critical thinking, communication, understanding of complex issues and an appreciation for reading.

In his book Literacy: An Evidence-Informed Guide for Teachers, James Murphy writes, “Written information has become the foundation on which the information revolution is built. Without access to this foundation, full participation in our society is impossible. Indeed poor literacy is so strongly correlated with poor life outcomes that it should be impossible to ignore.”

Literacy plays a vital role in shaping students into socially engaged individuals. Reading, writing and communicating effectively means students can interact with the world around them and understand the issues that shape their lives.

How To Support Literacy Development in the Classroom and Beyond

In addition to encouragement from parents by reading to their children and encouraging them to read independently, educators can also support and motivate students and their literacy skills. When teachers encourage reading — books and other diverse genres such as comics, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, websites and reference materials — they can foster the love of reading and learning. Teachers can also involve students in discussing what they’ve read, plan activities that support literacy development and organize an exploration of the school library to participate in a fact-hunting mission.

Literacy skills also need to be honed for using media and technology. Consuming and producing information via printed and online sources requires the knowledge and ability to discern errors, biases and the currency of information. Students must also understand that what they write and say can significantly impact the real world.

SOU received recognition from in 2020 as the top U.S. school in its “Best Colleges for K-12 Education Degree Programs” ranking, and its online MSEd with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy program reflects that quality. With courses like Foundations of Literacy, Language and Literacy in the Content Areas, Classroom Assessment and Reading Instruction, Leadership in Reading Programs and more addressing the challenges of educators in today’s schools, professionals can prepare to teach reading and develop students into effective communicators outside the classroom.

Learn more about SOU’s online MSEd with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy program.

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