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Youth workers as literacy mediators : supporting young people's learning about institutional literacy practices

Papen, Uta and Theriault, Virginie (2016) Youth workers as literacy mediators : supporting young people's learning about institutional literacy practices. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 60 (2). pp. 185-193.

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Abstract

This article examines the role of youth workers as literacy mediators: people who help others with written texts. Drawing on a secondary analysis of data from a qualitative study conducted in Quebec (Canada), it discusses situations in which staff from a community-based organization helped young people with written texts such as bureaucratic letters or forms. Such institutional literacy practices were found to be stressful and difficult, but were crucial for the young people’s ability to access resources and opportunities. Literacy mediation, contrary to what other studies have shown, offers important opportunities for literacy learning. The youth workers were able to counter the negative emotions dominant literacy practices often provoked and in so doing helped young people develop greater confidence and ability to deal with such literacy practices in a more informed and empowered way.