Communicative Language Teaching Communicative Competence Term Paper

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Communicative Language Teaching

Communicative Competence

In the past few years, the area of study termed "communicative competence" has received widespread attention as an alternative and successful method of teaching foreign language students. The desired outcome of the language learning process is the ability to communicate competently, not the ability to use the language exactly as a native speaker does (NCLRC, 2004).

Communicative competence is made up of four competence areas: linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic. Linguistic competence is knowing how to use the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of a language. Sociolinguistic competence is knowing how to use and respond to language appropriately, given the setting, the topic, and the relationships among the people communicating. Discourse competence is knowing how to interpret the larger context and how to construct longer stretches of language so that the parts make up a coherent whole. Finally, strategic competence is knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns, how to work around gaps in one's knowledge of the language, and how to learn more about the language and in the context.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Communicative Language Teaching Communicative Competence in the Assignment

By definition, the terms "communicative competence" not only to apply the grammatical rules of a language to form correct utterances, but also to know when to use these utterances appropriately (Wikipedia, 2005). Although now a well-known term, the earliest view of the development of the notion of communicative competence emerged in 1965, by means of Chomsky's model development in his famous Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, where he examined competence and performance. According to Chomsky, competence was the perfect knowledge of an ideal speaker-listener of the language in a homogeneous speech community (,2005). Chomsky's position received criticism as a result of his ill-fated theory that linguistic knowledge is separated from sociocultural features. According to Chomsky, linguistic theory was concerned primarily with an ideal speaker-listener, in a completely homogeneous speech community, who knows its language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interests, and errors (random or characteristic) in applying his knowledge of the language in actual performance. (,2005).

Traditionally, communicative competence consisted of four main components: 1) grammatical competence, or words and rules; 2) sociolinguistic competence, or appropriateness; 3) discourse competence, or cohesion and coherence; and 4) strategic competence, or the appropriate use of communication strategies (Wikipedia, 2005). In 1972, the notion of communicative competence changed dramatically through a concept developed by Dell Hymes in opposition to Chomsky's concept of the ideal speaker, in which he referred to the ability to use speech appropriately in varying social contexts (,1997). According to Hymes, Chomsky's competence/performance model did not provide an explicit place for sociocultural features, and Chomsky's notion of performance appeared confused between actual performance and underlying rules of performance. Instead, Hymes offered a new definition of communicative competence, as follows: 1) whether (and to what degree) something is formally possible; 2) whether (and to what degree) something is feasible in virtue of the means of implementation available; 3) whether (and to what degree) something is appropriate (adequate, happy, successful) in relation to a context in which it is used and evaluated; and 4) whether (and to what degree) something is in fact done, actually performed and what its doing entails (,2005).

Halliday's 1971-72 research studies followed the studies of Hymes, and also rejected the dichotomy of competence and performance. According to Halliday, "meaning-potential" covered both knowing and doing, and consisted of a separation of the macro and micro functions of language. The macro functions consisted of the following: 1) ideational; 2) manipulative; 3) heuristic; and 4) imaginative (,2005). Under Halliday's theory, language operated as a mode of human behavior, or social interaction, where the context of situation provides a first approximation to the specification of the components of the communication situation (,2005). Subsequently, in 1981, Munby theorized that the four aspects of language user's knowledge and ability were grammatical, psycholinguistic, sociocultural and de facto (,2005).

Building on the research of previous studies, research in 1980 and 1983 by Canale and Swain, respectively, studied four components of communicative competence: 1) grammatical competence which was concerned with mastery of the language code itself; 2) discourse competence which was concerned with the mastery of how to combine grammatical forms and meanings to achieve a unified spoken or written text in different genres; 3) sociolinguistic competence which addressed the extent to which utterances are produced and understood appropriately in different sociolinguistic contexts depending on contextual factors; and 4) strategic competence which is composed of mastery of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may be called into action for two main reasons: (a) to compensate for breakdowns in communication due to limiting conditions in actual communication or to insufficient competence in one or more of the other areas of communicative competence; and (b) to enhance the effectiveness of communication (,2005).

A more recent survey of communicative competence by Bachman in 1990, termed "organizational competence" included both grammatical and discourse (or textual) competence, and pragmatic competence, which includes both sociolinguistic and illocutionary competence (Wikipedia, 2005). Savignon, who introduced the idea of communicative competence to foreign language teaching, originally defined communicative competence as the ability to function in a truly communicative setting, or a dynamic exchange in which linguistic competence must adapt itself to the total informational input, both linguistic and paralinguistic, of one or more interlocutors (,2005). Savigon's 1983 research included the use of gestures and facial expression in her interpretation. According to Savigon, communicative competence was comprised of the following five qualifications: 1) communicative competence is a dynamic interpersonal trait that depends on the negotiation of meaning between two or more persons who share some knowledge of a language; 2) communicative competence applies to both written and spoken language; 3) communicative competence is context-specific, and the communicatively competent language user knows how to make appropriate choices in register and style to fit the situation in which communication occurs; 4) competence is what one knows, performance is what one does, and only performance is observable, however, it is only through performance that competence can be developed, maintained, and evaluated; and 5) communicative competence is relative and depends on the cooperation of those involved (,2005).

The current model of communicative competence has been revised to include grammatical competence, or the knowledge of the abstract language system, as well as discourse competence, consisting of cohesion/coherence, Gricean maxims, conversational competence, and speech acts (,2005). It also includes sociolinguistic competence, or the appropriacy of language form, language function, interactional patterns, sociocultural values and constraints, and speech acts (,2005). Strategic competence involves the necessity of assessment in order to assess speech situations properly, and sufficient background knowledge, such as social values, taboos, interactional patterns, interlocuter's personality, and topic selection, along with precise evaluation of effectiveness. Finally, some researchers have argued that some studies and theories do not neatly fit into one component of communicative competence and overlap several components. As a closing note, the definition of communicative competence varies depending upon learner's needs to communicate and contexts in which it is used.

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

The origins of the communicative approach began on the part of educators and linguists who had grown dissatisfied with the audiolingual and grammar-translation methods of foreign language instruction. They felt that students were not learning enough realistic, whole language, and that as a result, these students did not know how to communicate using appropriate social language, gestures, or expressions; in brief, they were at a loss to communicate in the culture of the language studied (Orellana, 1997). Interest in and development of communicative-style teaching mushroomed in the 1970s; authentic language use and classroom exchanges where students engaged in real communication with one another became quite popular (Orellana, 1997). In the intervening years, the communicative approach has been adapted to the elementary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary levels, and the underlying philosophy has spawned different teaching methods known under a variety of names, including notional-functional, teaching for proficiency, proficiency-based instruction, and communicative language teaching (Orellana, 1997).

Through the influence of communicative language teaching, it has become widely accepted that communicative competence should be the goal of language education. This is in contrast to previous views in which grammatical competence was commonly given top priority (Wikipedia, 2005). The understanding of communicative competence has been influenced by the field of pragmatics and the philosophy of language concerning speech acts. In recent years, a trend in foreign language education has emerged towards the development of communicative competence among foreign language students (,2005). Researchers expect students to learn to function properly in the target culture, and expect that students will learn to interpret and produce meaning with members of the target culture. Researchers have called for the contextualization of language, however the reality of providing experiences for contact with language in context has been difficult for foreign language teachers (,2005).

Principles and Characteristics of CLT

Communicative language teaching places great emphasis on helping students use the target language in a variety of contexts and places great emphasis on learning language functions (,2005). The primary… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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