Communicative Competence

Communicative competence is therefore a linguistic term which refers to a student's L2 ability. It not only refers to a student's ability to apply and use grammatical rules, but also to form correct utterances, and know how to use these utterances appropriately. The term was coined by Dell Hymes in 1966, reacting against the inadequacy of Noam Chomsky's distinction between competence and performance.



Canale and Swain developed the idea of communicative competence, which consists, basically of five subcompetences:

(1) GRAMMATICAL Competence or the ability to use the rules of the language system. (example: the position of the adjective in English)

(2) DISCOURSE Competence or the ability to use different types of speech o writing based on the situation and to do it coherently and cohesively.

(3) SOCIOLINGUISTIC C. or the ability to adapt utterances to a particular social context (social class, regional languages, registers).

(4) STRATEGIC C. or the ability to influence the course of a communicative situation (body movement, intonation). The aim is to maintain the channel of communication open or to improve the reception.

(5) SOCIOCULTURAL C. being familiar with the social and cultural context, the background where the language is spoken.(e.g., when we say “milkman” we understand all the contexts such as: Who is the milkman?, When does the milkman deliver the milk? and so on).

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