What is a Transition to LWC literacy program?

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A Transition to LWC literacy program is one which uses literacy in the mother tongue as a vehicle for achieving literacy in a language of wider communication (LWC).


If you are primarily focused on the mother tongue as a vehicle of communication and literacy, then you may question the concept of “transition to a language of wider communication.”


The reality, however, is that even in a minority community where use of the mother tongue is strong, the LWC is important to the life of that community. In many cases, the primary motivation for joining a mother-tongue literacy class is to gain literacy in the LWC. Even when this is not a motivation, a minority community needs people with multiple literacies to defend its interests in the wider regional and national context in which it is located.


Many literacy programs contain a component of transitional literacy in the language of wider communication. The distinctive feature of the Transition to LWC literacy program is that it serves primarily to make that transition rather than simply including a component for such a transition.

Indicating conditions

Here are some conditions that indicate the choice of a Transition to LWC literacy program:

  • Existing literacy in the mother tongue
  • Widespread education in a LWC with low rates of local participation
  • Relatively strong trends toward bilingualism, where certain domains such as home and spiritual life are reserved for use of the mother tongue and the LWC is used for other domains such as education and civic life
  • National language policy which does not favor mother-tongue literacy
  • Low social prestige of language group speaking the mother tongue
  • Objection of learners to studying in anything but the LWC
Program goals

Here are some typical program goals of a Transition to LWC literacy program:

  • To promote literacy in the mother tongue even while achieving biliteracy
  • To raise the status of the mother tongue
Possible strategies and activities

Here are some recommended strategies for a Transition to LWC literacy program:

  • Develop and implement a basic prototype literacy program in the mother tongue, but include explicit objectives and approaches which facilitate biliteracy. Direct the program content and methods toward transition to the LWC.
  • Match domains of literacy with domains of the spoken language such as the home, the market, the church, or among the women.
  • Look for or help create functional domains for mother-tongue literacy in the society, and then promote literacy in these domains.
  • Promote relevant, interesting mother-tongue literature and look for local response.
  • Channel younger, new literates into the local schools in LWC.
  • Work closely with key institutions such as the church, the community, or preschools who can help insure the program will be ongoing.
See also

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Page content last modified: 27 July 1999

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