What is embedded literacy and numeracy?


Embedded literacy and numeracy is not a new approach. It’s something that good tutors and trainers have always done. Especially in trades and vocational training.

Here’s a definition that we work with in New Zealand. Embedded literacy and numeracy is:

The explicit teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy within the context and tasks of another, usually vocational, subject or skill (for example, panel beating). (Adapted from Strengthening Literacy and Numeracy: Theoretical Framework, pp.41).

Perhaps the thing that is different to what good tutors and trainer typically do relates to how explicit the literacy or numeracy instruction is. Here’s a couple of key points:

  • Our observation is that good tutors and trainers intuitively know what to do when it comes to teaching the literacy and numeracy understandings that their learners need.
  • Our suggestion is that good tutors and trainers can become really great tutors and trainers by shifting their professional practice in such a way that their teaching of literacy and numeracy becomes more explicit and deliberate.

Deliberately teaching literacy and numeracy in context makes the instruction much more effective for the learner. In other words, it’s more effective when learners know there’s some deliberate teaching going on. Explicit literacy and numeracy instruction means that the learning can be measured, both before and after whatever teaching interventions you have planned.

An explicit focus on developing literacy and numeracy understanding also means that you can:

  1. Carry out more detailed needs analyses when it comes to looking at your training demands.
  2. Undertake better diagnostic assessment of learners strengths and needs
  3. Be extremely targeted when it comes to designing teaching interventions that focus on underpinning knowledge and skills.

Our goal is offer the best professional development training and the most amazing resources to support this work.

The question is… what are you doing to shift your own or others professional practice towards a more explicit, deliberate, and embedded approach to teaching literacy and numeracy in your particular context?

Let us know in the comments.

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