Audience Analysis: My audience will be made up of three adults and will, therefore, be able to critically weigh up my argument in a diplomatic way. Psychologically, they should be more advanced than a younger audience and may, therefore, be more able to assess my thinking in a more rounded manner.
Rhetorical Purpose: To inform my audience about the critical status of literacy amongst young people today and to persuade them to my view that this will, ultimately, have a devastating effect on society as a whole and that the government must make more efforts to address this decline in standards.
Redemptive Purpose: It is clear that without literacy skills, young people are unable to fully engage with the society around them and nor with God’s teachings as scripture is written down. It is not just a case that they cannot recognise the words which are written, but equally that they cannot comprehend them neither meaning that their moral development, with regards to God’s teachings and social expectations, may be stunted as a result.
- Attention Grabber
Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education (1999) demonstrate that the state of literacy in America is extremely poor with around 10 million Americans reaching the twelfth grade without being able to read at a basic level (The Literacy Company). It is clear that literacy is a critical problem.
- Establish Credability
I do not hold much sway in this field other than holding a distinct passion for literacy and a belief that, with strong literacy skills, is a life rich with opportunities and chances to improve one’s quality of life.
- Thesis Statement
Literacy levels are too low amongst young people in America and this is due to a lack of support and funding within schools and, therefore, the government must endeavour to spend more money on trying to provide resources and staff to help support young people in their continued literacy development.
- Preview Statement
I will validate my thesis by addressing the various effects that low literacy levels can lead to, including unemployment and criminality; the various causes of why literacy is as low as it is such as an increase in ‘text speak’, a greater range of activities other than reading and a lack of time within school to address this; and finally will address the solutions which can be put in place to curtail this social crisis such as how the government can help.
- Low literacy levels have been proven to correlate distinctly with increased levels of criminality. 68% of those who are arrested are also illiterate as are around three in five American prison inmates (Washington Literacy Council). Conversely, 85% of juvenile offenders also have issue with literacy levels (The Literacy Company), demonstrating a clear correlation between poor literacy and criminality.
- At an earlier stage of life, according to the National Adult Literacy Survey, children who do not develop basic literacy skills, before beginning school, are three to four times more likely to drop out at a later date (The Literacy Company). This in turn means a number of issues for society as a whole such as less tax income, less skilled workers and more people drawing on government benefit schemes, costing the tax payer a greater amount in the long run.
- A major cause for the decline in literacy standards is the increase in new communicative technology such as text messaging which has introduced a whole new form of language known as ‘text speak’ which involves a lot of abbreviations and acronyms instead of correct, formal English (Fisher, 2011, p99).
- Equally, computers have taken a greater prevalence in the past decade and most school work is now completed through their use. Computers all come with in-built spell checkers which do not aid literacy development but rather, foster laziness in students who adopt the attitude that they don’t need to know these things as it is done for them (Fisher, 2011, p99).
- It is the earlier stages of education which need addressing in terms of their delivery of literacy development. One study, carried out by Malcolm Dixon et al. (2006) discusses the view that a lack of spending on books in elementary/primary schools can be viewed as being an issue (Dixon et al, 2006, p73) and so it would suggest that greater spending on books and other literacy resources would greatly boost the literacy rates amongst younger children.
- If the issue is not addressed before children arrive at high school, it is understandable that this can be very embarrassing for them and so, the government must begin to spend more money on subtle and age-appropriate literacy resources for young people who need that support. There needs to be significantly more strategies in place.
Low literacy levels are rife in modern America and have strong correlations with higher levels of criminality and unemployment. As a consequence, there is less tax money going into the pot but more being drawn upon by those who cannot find work. Therefore, it is important that literacy levels are addressed from a very young age and a greater degree of resources and strategies be put in place to avoid this continuing on in future generations of Americans.
- Call to action
Low literacy levels are extremely high in America and are dragging down the standard of living within society; a solution must be found or at least explored by the government in order to better support teachers and develop these crucial skills in young people.
- Refocus Audience Attention
It is time to call upon the government to do more to decrease this growing pandemic of unskilled young people who lack the necessary literacy levels to make something of their lives.
Dixon, M. et al. (2006). Are low levels of book spending in primary schools jeopardizing the National Literacy Strategy? Curriculum Journal, 17(1), 73-88.
Fisher, D. (2011). Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts. New York: Routledge.
The Literacy Company. (2011). Reading, Literacy and Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp