Ethnographic Approaches to Literacy


Recently, some adult educators have adopted an ethnographic approach to understanding literacy and using the findings of their work in the teaching of literacy.  An illustrated publication describing this approach will shortly be posted on this page.

A training programme for adult literacy facilitators called LETTER (Learning for Empowerment Through Training in Ethnographic Research) has been developed and conducted in India, Ethiopia and Uganda. Two published reports, from the India and Ethiopia programmes, are available free at (India) and (Ethiopia). There is also another ethnographic study entitled Hidden Literacies, also available free from   – it examines case studies of people using literacies in their everyday lives while believing they were in fact ‘illiterate’. All three books explain the ethnographic approach and provide case studies.  For LETTER, see the BALID (British Association for Literacy in  Development) website.