Économie et Statistique n° 490 - 2016Adults' writing and arithmetic skills
Adults' writing difficulties through the writing test in the survey Information et Vie Quotidienne
The Information et vie quotidienne (IVQ) 2011 survey, like its previous edition in 2004, includes a writing test in the form of a dictated shopping list, aimed at people identified during the survey as having difficulties reading or understanding what they read. This test is part of a module designed by the French agency to combat illiteracy and is part of the diagnosis of illiteracy.
In 2011 as in 2004, 8 % of people aged 18 to 65 were estimated to have great difficulty writing. The differences, already very marked in 2004, between people who attended school in France and those schooled in a foreign country were accentuated in 2011.
The people who actually took this writing test almost all made mistakes : only a minority used all the correct plural endings or were able to write words that are not spelled like they sound. But their difficulties with written French were not uniform. Examining the writings produced from the point of view of grapho-phonological correspondence, that is, the correspondence with the oral words independently of correct spelling, allows refining language skill profiles. Ascending hierarchical classification, combining spelling and grapho-phonological success, reveals three groups of people : 63 % have few or slight difficulties in writing, 11 % have serious difficulties and 26 % have moderate, but very heterogeneous difficulties. Writing difficulties are very often associated with poor written and oral comprehension and poor numeracy skills, but the overlap is not perfect. Serious difficulties with writing are quite a good indicator of difficulties with written comprehension. On the other hand, a good spelling score does not necessarily go hand in hand with good written and aural comprehension.