In the Literacy Council, we tend to use this definition:
Literacy is the ability to read, write, calculate, speak and understand and communicate in other forms of language according to need. It is a continuum of these skills necessary for everyday life in the home, at work, in education and in the community.
We define 'family literacy' as:
… the way parents, children and other family members use literacy at home and in their community. Family literacy occurs naturally during the routines of daily living.
As we expected, people in the language communities told us repeatedly that there was no Aboriginal word for 'literacy'. To them, the term 'literacy' suggests reading and writing in English. When we asked what 'family literacy' meant, they created a picture of a family sitting around reading—again in English. So even though our definition of family literacy does not use the word 'reading' or 'English', Aboriginal people equate family literacy with 'reading'. In the case of both 'literacy' and 'family literacy', they see English as the medium of communication.
Not surprisingly, based on what we had learned from our preliminary research, no one was prepared to define 'Aboriginal literacy'. However, people readily discussed, and agreed on, certain aspects of it:
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