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Literacy requires people to understand how documents are organized and to be familiar with a variety of different text types and genres, so that they are able to recognize and implement the rhetorical moves needed to understand or create a complex text. This knowledge can be broken down into at least the following elements:
  • Knowledge of text types. Highly literate individuals will be familiar enough with the full range of text types that they can recognize instantly what sort of text they are dealing with while reading. This knowledge entails at least implicit recognition of key phrases and other linguistic elements used to signal text macrostructure (e;g;, “for example,” “on the other hand”). This kind of knowledge is most useful if associated with rich knowledge of the social purpose and conceptual focus characteristic of each genre.
  • Internalization of rhetorical moves. Highly literate individuals will be familiar with characteristic rhetorical moves that can be made in a particular text genre, and will be able to create texts that follow typical genre patterns by making the right moves in the right order.
  • Knowledge of rhetorical metalanguage. Highly literate individuals will command a vocabulary and conceptual framework sufficient to participate in a discussion of the rhetorical choices made by an author, complete enough to enable them to consider and explicitly describe alternative design choices (in their own writing or another's), and developed enough to support metacognitive reasoning about text, such as evaluating the success of an author's organizational plan or suggesting alternative plans.

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