Re: Define Literacy
I think many of us decided that while you were literate in your native tongue, you were illiterate in the foreign one. The teacher had none of that compromise - so, in black-and-white terms, which is it? Literate or illiterate?
I like the logic of what "many of us decided". There is a lot to be said for making the usage of "literate" consistent with the usage of "fluent". So if the subject was up for an election, my vote would be that the person unable to write the foreign language is illiterate in that foreign language.
The problem, I guess, is that "literate" differs from "fluent" because the two carry different historical connotations. Unlike "fluent", "literate" has long described a distinction in social status, not just communication. Until quite recently on the timescale of language change, literate people were upper-class, illiterate people lower class. The sentiment survives in the area of foreign aid: "75% of the people in Ethiopia are illiterate. We have to donate for their education." Since your social status changes much less on a foreign trip than your ability to communicate, I think most English speakers would find it more natural to consider the traveller literate. Compare Webster's definition #1
: "1 a : EDUCATED, CULTURED b : able to read and write".