ENG100 Assignment 1: Literacy Narrative
Why Write an Autobiographical Essay about Literacy?
In “The Day Language Came into My Life,” Helen Keller chronicles the amazing transformation
that took place when Annie Sullivan, who was her teacher, mentor, and friend, finally penetrated and
opened the deaf, dumb, and mute world Helen had always known:
I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of [Annie’s] fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty
consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning though; and somehow the mystery of
language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was
flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free . . . I left the
well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we
returned to the house, every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw
everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. (Reid 2003: 112-113)
Unlike Keller, most people don’t remember the day, let alone the moment, that language came
into their lives because it is, at first glance, transparent. It’s possible to read, write, and think, and not
even be cognizant of it as a process or part of a process; and yet language—both language development
and language use—is a rich and relatively common topic worthy of serious reflection.
What is Literacy?
According to the Educational Development Center, “It refers to the ability to manipulate any set
of codes and conventions-whether it is the words of a language, the symbols in a mathematical system, or
images posted to the Internet—to live healthy and productive lives.” What this dense quote means is that
literacy is a term used to describe more than reading and writing aptitude. It is a term that refers to the
acquisition of any type of communication, expression, or skill. The slang we share we our friends and...