PublicationsTopic index of systematic reviewsKnowledge pagesLiteracy - general
Teaching literacy
This page contains the findings of systematic reviews undertaken by review groups linked to the EPPI Centre

Use of ICT (opens a new page)
In low-income countries

General [1]

  • Effective teachers of literacy have a wide and varied repertoire of teaching practices and approaches (e.g. scaffolding, where support in learning is initially provided by the teacher and then gradually withdrawn as the pupil gains in confidence; integrating reading with writing; differentiated instruction; and excellent classroom management skills).
  • They can intelligently and skilfully blend these approaches together in different combinations according to the needs of individual pupils.
  • They are especially alert to children’s progress and can step in and utilise the appropriate method or practice to meet the child’s instructional needs.
  • They use an eclectic collection of methods which represents a balance between the direct teaching of skills and more holistic approaches. This means that they balance direct skills teaching with more authentic, contextually-grounded literacy activities.
  • They avoid partisan adherence to any one sure-fire approach or method.
  • They promote pupil engagement, on-task behaviour and self-regulation.
  • They build links with parents and the local community.

In low-income countries [2]

In the multilingual contexts of developing countries, children with low proficiency in the school language are disadvantaged particularly because strong foundations in oral language are essential to enable fluent reading with understanding. Literacy-related assessment in the early grades has focused on symbol knowledge, and to a lesser extent phonological awareness, but not on the critical skills of vocabulary and grammar. Interventions targeting language skills are beneficial for literacy development and, if delivered early, can provide a scaffold for learning across the curriculum.


1. A systematic review of effective literacy teaching in the 4 to 14 age range of mainstream schooling (2003) 

2. Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries (2014)

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