Whenever people learn a language, be it as a kid or as an adult, the speaking and listening processes are often separate from the writing and reading ones.

The first two are usually covered by the term speech. Speech development means improving speaking and listening skills.

I am looking for a similar word that would encompass writing and reading. We could say something like

Before the age of 6, the children develop their speech, but it is only in primary school that they learn to read and write.

Is there a way to replace the italic part? And in particular the "read and write" part?

1 Answer 1


You're looking for the word "literacy".

To be unable to read (and write) is to be illiterate. To have those abilities is to be literate

Note that this is similar to "numeracy", which relates to numbers.

  • 2
    In UK primary schools (well the one I know about at least!), the teachers & children use the terms literacy & numeracy to refer to two of their subjects. My son has a "literacy homework book".
    – k1eran
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 20:11

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