“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.” - UNESCO 21

Life literacy signals the importance of lifelong and life-wide literacy and learning. It’s the literacy skills you need to live your life and the new skills you need to acquire throughout your life. Workplace, family and community are important areas in your life where developing your reading, writing and math skills can result in a more productive and more successful life experience.

Adequate literacy skills are defined as “the ability to understand, evaluate, use, and engage with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential” by the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.

Literacy is measured along a continuum of competency in three broad domains:

  • prose literacy (the ability to understand and use information from texts),

  • document literacy (the ability to find and use information in different document formats;) and

  • quantitative literacy (the ability to apply arithmetic operations to numbers in printed material).

Research shows that adults who have inadequate literacy skills are more likely to have worse health outcomes, decreased earnings potential, lower levels of civic participation and fewer life opportunities.

Information retrieved from Decoda Literacy and ABC Life Literacy Canada.



What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. 

  • Knowledge refers to an understanding of personal and broader financial matters;

  • Skills refer to the ability to apply that financial knowledge in everyday life;

  • Confidence means having the self-assurance to make important decisions; and

  • Responsible financial decisions refers to the ability of individuals to use the knowledge, skills and confidence they have gained to make choices appropriate to their own circumstances.

Why is it important?

Improving financial literacy allows you to:

  • Make day-to-day choices about how to spend their money and stay on top of financial obligations;

  • Navigate the ever-changing financial marketplace and buy the products and services that make the most sense for their own needs;

  • Plan ahead about how to use their hard-earned dollars for life goals, such as buying a home or preparing for retirement;

  • Deal with local, provincial and national government programs and systems that are often complicated and confusing, even to experts;

  • Evaluate the financial information and advice they get, whether from friends, the media or professionals; and

  • Make the best use of the resources they have, including workplace benefits, private and public pensions, tax credits, public benefits, investments, home equity, access to credit and consumer spending power.

Information retrieved from Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.


Digital Literacy

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy is more than technological know-how: it includes a wide variety of ethical, social and reflective practices that are embedded in work, learning, leisure and daily life.

Traditional definitions of literacy have focused on skills relating to numeracy, listening, speaking, reading, writing and critical thinking, with the end goal being developing active thinkers and learners who are able to engage in society in effective and meaningful ways. These skills are needed for full participation in digital society as well, but they are only part of a larger set of skills and competencies that are required.

Digital Literacy Competencies

  • Use represents the technical fluency that’s needed to engage with computers and the Internet. Skills and competencies that fall under “use” range from basic technical know-how – using computer programs such as word processors, web browsers, email and other communication tools – to the more sophisticated abilities for accessing and using knowledge resources, such as search engines and online databases, and emerging technologies such as cloud computing.

  • Understand is that critical piece – it’s the set of skills that help us comprehend, contextualize, and critically evaluate digital media so that we can make informed decisions about what we do and encounter online. These are the essential skills that we need to start teaching people as soon as they go online.

  • Create is the ability to produce content and effectively communicate through a variety of digital media tools. The ability to create using digital media ensures that Canadians are active contributors to digital society. Creation – whether through blogs, tweets, wikis or any of the hundreds of avenues for expression and sharing online – is at the heart of citizenship and innovation.

The CVLLC offers free small group sessions and support with learning to use devices like:

  • Laptop and desktop computers

  • Smartphones

  • Tablets/iPads

We also provide iPads Made Easy, a training offered once a month at the Courtenay branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

Information retrieved from MediaSmarts.


Family Literacy

What is family literacy?

Family literacy refers to the way parents, children, and extended family member use literacy at homeand in the community. Family literacy occurs naturally during the routines of daily living and helps children and adults get things done.

Literacy is especially important when it comes to children and families. When families learn together, they build good habits around literacy and learning, share ideas, build strong family connections, develop independent thinking and gain confidence.

How does family literacy affect children’s literacy and learning?

  • Families spontaneously engage in meaningful and purposeful literacy, regardless of socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic differences.

  • When parents are more involved and more engaged, children tend to do better academically and socially.

  • Research provides strong evidence for the contribution parent-child interaction makes to children’sliteracy and language development.

  • Regardless of socio-economic background, children whose parents read books to them in their early school years had better reading test scores at age 15. The parent-child activities that seemed to make the largest difference were reading a book, talking about things done during the day, and telling stories.

  • Parents’ basic literacy and numeracy skills have a strong, positive, and significant impact on cognitiveoutcomes for younger and older children. 

What are family literacy programs?

Family literacy programs help parents to support their children’s learning and literacy development. Some programs also directly help parents to improve their own literacy or parenting skills. Many programs include “circle times” where parents and children engage in stories, songs and rhymes that support language development. Others provide learning activities that can be replicated at home. Programs that help parent’s develop their own literacy skills also provide supports, such as childcare services. Family literacy programs are usually operated by community service organizations, libraries and literacy organizations.

Information retrieved from Decoda Literacy.


Workplace Literacy

What is workplace literacy?

Workplace literacy focuses on essential skills needed to achieve goals, to function and to thrive in the modern economy, and to develop knowledge and potential.

What essential skills are needed for work?

The Government of Canada has identified nine essential skills needed for the workplace. These essential skills are reading, writing, document use, numeracy, oral communication, thinking, computer use, working with others, and continuous learning. These skills are used in every job to varying degrees and at different levels of complexity. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Why is workplace literacy important?

  • Literacy matters for employment. Strong literacy skills are connected to being employed.

  • Literacy matters for earnings. Stronger literacy skills are associated with earning higher wages.

  • Literacy matters for health and safety. Understanding and following health and safety instructions can be critical for personal safety.

  • Literacy matters for success at work. Improving literacy skills can increase efficiency and accuracy at work, and can decrease work-related stress.

  • Literacy matters for adult education. People with stronger literacy skills are more likely to participate in adult education and job related training.

Information retrieved from Decoda Literacy and ABC Life Literacy Canada.



Hoping to change careers or find a new job that fits your interests?
Ready to get your grade 12 and not sure how to start?

We offer free, confidential, one-to-one tutoring in community at a time, place, and pace that works for you! Connect with use to see what kind of services might fit your needs and what upgrading programs might work with your schedule. Support is offered in reading, writing, and math upgrading.
The CVLLC provides support and assistance with students hoping to enter Adult Basic Education at North Island College, and provides assistance with North Island Distance Education School courses.


English language learning

There are a variety of factors that may contribute to why English language learners may not be functionally literate. They may come from countries where unrest, war or other factors have interrupted their learning, or where their access to education may have been restricted.

The CVLLC offers small group classes in conversational and practical English for permanent residents and new Canadians.

Classes offered include:

  • Advanced English (2 hours weekly)

  • English Conversation classes (2 hours weekly)

  • Writing workshop (1 hour weekly)

Are you interested in enrolling in a class or receiving a tutor? Do you have a friend or colleague who might benefit from additional support with English? Take the first step! Go online and assess your level of English competency through the online self-assessment tool provided by the government of Canada.

Get in touch with us for more information or to register for support with your English.

Information retrieved from Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks.