The research reported in this article responds to the current international demand that adult education and literacy programmes be relevant to the learner's immediate contexts. It defines literacy as the ability to manipulate deliberately and use written language in socially valued events. It presents the recent qualitative study of a marginalised community on the edges of Mexico City that explores the local opportunities and scenarios for reading and writing and the everyday situations that favour literacy learning. It includes a portrait of four of the community's different social spaces (the church, the post office, the family and the newspaper stand), their recent history, and their place in the language life of the community. It concludes that in order to improve the quality of adult education, especially those efforts related to literacy, taking the dynamic character of local reading and writing spaces into account is imperative.
adult education; adult literacy; Mexico