Marcia Farr initiates her study, En Los Dos Idiomas, by stating the importance of social networks amongst immigrant families and how “they are particularly important for mexicanos because of compadrazo, “the Mexican system of godparent like relationships that function as a reciprocal exchange network to facilitate economic survival and provide emotional and social support” (468).” This strong network of intergenerational relationships provides a means by which traditions can be readily passed on, traditions of which include literacy and its importance.
Marcia introduces the term lirico which refers to the literacy they “picked up” informally from others who used only spoken language. Many of the men in her study state that because of their socio economic situation in Mexico they were unable to attend school consecutively, resulting in very minimal literacy skills, hence their dependence on lirico. Although a very informal form of literacy, lirico is remarkably effective, since most of the individuals in her study are able to cope with everyday literacy matters.
Literacy is an intensely social process which is found in the learning process itself, as
Farr explains “literacy is a social phenomenon in several aspects:
"First, it is a system or tool, created by human beings and passed one from one human being to another. Often it is accomplished though formal schooling, but it is also achieved lirico, informally, as a natural part of (nonschool) life. Second..., literacy is essential in maintaining human relationships…….. Finally, human relationships are crucial in the learning process…. Trust and commitment provide the human base from which learning and teaching are carried out. (475)"
Literacy skills correlate with the number of years of schooling as would be expected, but there are interesting exceptions, all of which have to do with personal motivations to learn and use literacy. As mentioned above, maintaining a human relationship was one of the primary reasons for the growth of literacy amongst this group of individuals studied since most of the women in their lives were still in Mexico, and maintaining that relationship with them “motivated” their knowledge and use of written language.
Literacy was very important and encouraged in this household. Children were encouraged to do bilingual studying and attend extracurricular activities, doctrina (church), where their literacy skills can further unfold. The adults, at times, even pursue personal literacy activities which help advance their own learning, such as taking GED courses or attending the weekly English courses. Literacy activities were interwoven throughout the daily lives of both adults and children.