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Literacy and Educational Materials
Primers for Ethnic Languages

Girl writing
Photo by Joan Yoder

Instructional materials in an ethnic language may include primers. A primer is a book or series of books for teaching reading and writing to beginner or semi-literate learners. Primers may allow students to work independently in self-paced work, to be self-taught, or can be especially helpful to assist instructors who have minimal pedagogical training. A primer and its teacher’s guide can save valuable planning time for a new teacher and classroom time for that teacher’s student.

Primer contents are divided into a series of lessons for a sequence of instruction. Literacy programs may include different types such as:

Pre-primers. Usually primer content is preceded by instruction with materials and activities designed to teach certain reading readiness skills. That instruction is normally for people who have had little or no exposure to reading and writing.

Basic primers are designed to teach basic reading and writing skills to beginning readers. The content focuses on word attack skills and comprehension to develop basic reading and writing skills through drills, grammatical elements exercises, word building and story text for fluency.

Thematic primers weave a theme throughout the content. Examples of themes may be a health or social issue (such as malaria or aids) or a cultural topic (such as pottery making or weaving for a women’s literacy class).

Transition primers are designed to assist new independent readers of one language apply their new skills to becoming literate in another language.

open bookPost primer materials are designed to assist new readers in further developing fluency in their newly acquired basic literacy skills.