The Canadian Literacy Thesaurus/Thésaurus canadien d' alphabétisation was first published in 1992 by the Canadian Literacy Thesaurus Coalition. A second edition, published in 1996, brought the total number of terms to 1890 in English and 1950 in French. A revised, on-line version of the Thesaurus, launched early 2008, has brought the total number of terms to 2097 in English and 2201 in French. The online version of the Canadian Literacy Thesaurus replaces the print version.

Why are the English and French Terms Separate?

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The English and French term banks were built independently of one another, to ensure that no language would become the dominant language of the Thesaurus. The two lists were structured separately, and later on compared and reconciled by the project coordinator.

How was the Thesaurus Built?

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Various sources were used to build the Thesaurus: a wide array of recent documents in the field, other standardized vocabularies, and several specialized dictionaries and lists of keywords in literacy and related fields. Lists of terms were reviewed by an advisory committee of literacy and information specialists. A preliminary version of the Thesaurus was tested in ten sites across Canada, after which further additions and modifications were made.

What is Covered in the Thesaurus? 

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The Canadian Literacy Thesaurus/Thésaurus canadien d' alphabétisation contains terms which describe literacy both as a field of knowledge and as an application. The areas covered include: literacy assessment, literacy instruction and tutoring, literacy programming, literacy research, literacy theory, and educational technology. The adjacent fields of adult education and training are also covered. A large number of terms describe the psychological, social, and economic characteristics of people involved with literacy. As well, terms from related fields are included, such as education, linguistics, psychology, sociology and social work.

What is Not Covered in the Thesaurus? 

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  • terms which represent the specific subject content of materials written by and for learners (e.g., Gardening, Plumbing). These terms will be found in standardized vocabularies with a universal scope, such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

  • proper names such as geographic names, names of specific organizations, ethnic groups, etc. Again, users of the Thesaurus are advised to consult a more general listing or develop their own list to ensure consistency.

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