Literacy Issues in Adults
Literacy Issues in Adults
  • Reporter Yang Seo-Yeon
  • 승인 2023.04.17 19:18
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▲A woman is reading a book / NCW libraries
▲A woman is reading a book / NCW libraries

 As the number of young people who do not understand text after reading increases rapidly, controversy over the literacy of the “digital generation” is brewing. Literacy refers to the basic ability required for adults to lead their daily lives beyond the narrow meaning of understanding and using letters. 
 A program named “Your Literacy” on EBS once covered adult literacy. In the program, the production staff made a test for “2022 adult literacy” and conducted the test for adults. The result was shocking. Of the 15 questions, the average number of correct answers is 6.19, which is less than 50 points. There is another example that shows the problem of adult literacy.
 According to the “2020 Adult Literacy Survey” of 14,429 adults aged 18 or older from October 2020 to January 2021 conducted by the National Institute for Lifelong Education, 20.2% of adults need elementary or middle school-level learning. One out of every five Koreans does not have enough literacy for their daily lives. The decline in literacy is largely due to frequent exposure to digital devices and video media such as smartphones and YouTube since infancy. Since people have become used to short videos and messages, they find it difficult to read long texts.
 As the controversy over literacy escalates, the publishing and distributing of books related to literacy and vocabulary also has increased. Park Sook-kyung, YES24 manager, said, “As the contents consumed by the generalization of smartphones become images or videos, some people naturally do not understand and even read long texts. The emergence of various abbreviations and new words also causes social issues, so related books will be published steadily.” The sales growth rate of literacy-related books was recorded at 60.16% in 2021 and 18.65% year-on-year in 2022.
 Many countries around the world are also experiencing this literacy problem. According to Dalberg, Global Development Advisors, 43 million adults in America, nearly one in five, read at the level of third grade or younger in elementary school. Also, more than half of all adults read at the level of sixth grade or younger. Many countries suffering from literacy problems are implementing various policies to solve these problems. For example, in Finland, classes are conducted in books rather than textbooks throughout the school curriculum. Through this, various books are adopted as textbooks to encourage students to read naturally. In addition, by allowing schools to use public libraries in the city without installing libraries at school, many opportunities to access books naturally are created.
 However, on the other hand, there is also a view of the controversy over literacy. Although society and schools take issue with the literacy of the younger generation, efforts should be made to understand each other, seeing it as a phenomenon caused by “language replacement”, not “controversy over literacy”. Professor Chulwoo Park, department of Korean Linguistics and Literature of Anyang University, stressed that the younger generation should recognize “different” rather than worrying about the decline in literacy. He said, “The recent controversy over literacy happens because the younger generations do not use it often and are not used to it. Worrying about the literacy of the younger generations is to think of it as a standard for the older generations, such as a formalized framework centered on textbooks and vocabulary that adults expect.”