Transcript of What is the difference between English and literacy? video

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The terms English and literacy are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. Simply, literacy is a set of skills and English is a broad subject. The NSW English K-10 Syllabus sets the expectations of the literacy skills students need so they can access rich content across every key learning area.

Being literate develops a person's potential and ability to participate in society. Because literacy makes up the foundational skills that provide the base on which to: read and write, speak listen and interact and really think about complex ideas. Literacy is the root structure providing stability and nourishment, allowing all other key learning areas to flourish.

In the subject English, we creatively and critically study texts and reflect on how they affect us. We explore how and why we communicate in different ways. We learn about ourselves, each other and our world. Studying English as a subject means we can craft and appreciate the English language in all its communicative forms.

Without English, we would not be able to interpret a well-told story, represent our view of the world or understand and appreciate the power captured in poetry. We could miss the sensitive choices a film director makes. All the insinuations, insights and interpretations we admire are because of the subject English.

And it is by understanding and using these subtleties that we can communicate and express ourselves imaginatively to engage and influence others. English needs literacy. Just like science and art need literacy. That's why the NSW syllabuses call literacy a 'General capability'.

Through English, we learn about the power, value and art of the English language. Because of English, language, literacy and literature, we can explore some of life's greatest questions and experience the world beyond our own.


Music - 'Positive and Fun’ by Scott Holmes Music is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Image - 'Girl writing' by ZaCky is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Image - 'Abbie The Tour Guide' by garryknight is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

English K-10 Syllabus © 2012 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

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