Communicative Competence (Hymes; Canale & Swain)


Communicative competence is the aspect of knowing who one is speaking with, the setting in which the communication is taking place, and the appropriate usage for the language in that setting. A competent language user must learn to become proficient both in the appropriateness and efficacy of their communications. According to Wright (2010), the term “communicative competence” was first coined by Dell Hymes in 1972, and was expanded by Canale and Swain in 1980 (p. 34). The concept of communicative competence has its roots in the sociocultural perspective. That is, it is the speaker's ability to engage in discourse in a variety of competencies based on the specific context.

Díaz-Rico and Weed (2010) identify Canale's work from 1983 which identified different components of communicative competence. Grammatical Competence includes vocabulary, word meanings, sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling proficiencies. Sociolinguistic Competence addresses the status of the participants, and the purpose for the interactions based on social and cultural norms. Discourse Competence can be further broken down into spoken communication (oracy) and written communications (literacy). Lastly, Strategic Competence addresses verbal and nonverbal communication strategies that support the gaps in the other proficiencies, and can range from hand gestures to "a speaker raises or lowers the voice for effect" (Díaz Rico & weed, 2010, p. 59).

Freeman and Freeman (2004) identified five useful implications for teachers: 1) always assume that what the child is trying to communicate is important; 2) be sure to paraphrase the child's communication in order to seek a clearer understanding of what they're trying to say; 3) confirm the students intention of the communication; 4) reply at, or just above, the ELLs proficiency level; and lastly, 5) "encourage children to explore their understandings and use language for making meaning rather than asking students to respond to their specific questions with formulaic answers" (p. 9).

Wright (2010) cautions that it is tempting to place too much capital in the idea of "native speakers as the model of communicative competence to which all second language learners should strive" (p. 34). The shortcomings of communicative competence are that the perfect language knowledge simply doesn't exist, thereby making it relative based on the teachers' level of proficiency.


REFERENCES
Díaz-Rico, L. T. & Weed, K. Z. (2010). The cross-cultural, language, and academic development handbook, fourth edition. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Freeman, D. E. & Freeman, Y. S. (2004). Essential Linguistics. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Wright, W. E. (2010). Foundations for teaching English language learners: Research, theory, policy, and practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon.


Communicative language teaching

This style of language education began in the 70’s as a reaction to ALM (audiolingual method) teaching. Educators were looking for a style of teaching that reflected communicative competence and that would apply to a wide range of teachers.


The goal is to allow students to understand how to use language for a wide variety of settings, purposes, participants, and kinds of texts. This style of language acquisition also focuses on the ability to communicate, despite gaps in the understanding of certain rules within the language. Students are encouraged to interact with users of the language, rather than trying to learn in an isolated classroom. Instructors frequently link learning together in ways it might be found in the real world, such as reading and writing. Significant importance is also placed on feedback and experimentation with various ways of speaking.


Because this form of language acquisition required new kinds of activities, the role of the teacher and student were altered. Instead of the “sage on the stage”, learning became a cooperative classroom activity. The teacher is still available for assistance and slight corrections, but more emphasis is placed on the class as a whole, rather than the individual. As a result, the students are expected to take on more responsibility for their learning.


Another aspect of CLT is the detailed consideration for what the learner hopes to use the language for. There is a heavy focus on setting, social roles, types of events, functions, and concepts involved. For example, students who wish to learn Japanese for business purposes will practice language that is business centered, and will learn fewer words relating to story telling or academia. Similarly, students who are studying Japanese to communicate with friends would not focus on financial vocabulary.


The main principles of the CLT methodology are to make real communication the focus of language learning. Instructors are expected to be tolerant of errors, and focus mostly on the communicative abilities of the learner. Grammar and conventions will be discovered as the student becomes more advanced. It is also important to provide opportunities for students to practice the language they’ve learned.


References
Richards, J. (n.d.). Communicative language teaching today. Available at http://www.professorjackrichards.com/work.htm

Task-based learning (unedited notes)


A methodology that results from creating interactions within the classroom through specially designed pedagogical tasks. Task-based learning (TBL) seeks to create communicative competencies as a byproduct of sociocultural interactions. In TBL models, students rely on their L-1 as a resource for completing tasks that are not solely language learning (content learning, but not exclusively so). It requires a focus on the meanings of communications, and relies on interpersonal strategies for the completion of the task. Swain & Lapkin (2000) emphasized the importance of L1 use in task-based learning. In fact, their research indicated that collaboration, whether in L1 or L2, mediated L2 learning (p. 267).

Richards (n.d.) noted that pedagogical tasks "require the use of specific interactional strategies and may also require the use of specific types of language (skills, grammar, vocabulary)" (p. 32). Real-world tasks are often rehearsals for interactions outside of the school, and may involve role-playing.

Ellis (2000) defined "task" in terms of second language acquisition as being "primarily engaged in trying to communicate content (meaning his primary)" (p. 196). From a sociocultural perspective, language learners must first interpret the task and establish goals for completing it. Although not exclusively a single student activity, task-based learning is most often a paired or grouped exercise. By working in groups, language learners must construct meaning collaboratively, and in doing so learn grammatical competencies through the dialogue necessary for completing the task (p. 210). Ellis went on to note that in task-based learning it is possible (even likely) that content learning takes precedent over language acquisition.


REFERENCES
Ellis, R. (2000). Task-based research and language pedagogy. Language Teaching Research, 4(3), 193 – 220

Richards, J. (n.d.). Communicative language teaching today. Available at http://www.professorjackrichards.com/work.htm

Swain, M. & Lapkin, S. (2000). Task-based second language learning: The uses of the first language. Language Teaching Research, 4(3), 251-274.

Content-based instruction:

This is a subheading of Communicative Language Teaching. In this form of language acquisition, teachers use various techniques to make linguistics easy to understand. Like CLT, instructors organize the curriculum around subjects and teach the language through content.


The goal of CBI is to teach language through context. By speaking with friends, students easily pick up social and conversational language. However, they frequently struggle to pick up academic language. Academic language contains strange and infrequently used syntax and vocabulary. By teaching students a subject, all in a new language, students are able to study and acquire language “in setting.” An example of what a student might learn in CBI is when to appropriately use the passive voice. In conversational English, the active voice is encouraged. However, in scientific papers, the passive voice is frequently the right choice. A student who had only ever practiced conversational English might use the wrong voice, or might become confused on the rules. By showing students the proper voice “in setting” (aka, a scientific paper), learners are able to pick up the correct syntax for that particular subject.


Again, because it is a subheading of CLT, the classroom is learner centered, not teacher centered. The students learn through practice, rather than through instructor lecture and conversation practice. Students acquire the language by learning the subject.


One of the benefits of this type of language instruction is that learners are frequently motivated to learn through interest in the subject matter. If a student is supremely interested in Saturn, they are more likely to pick up the language by reading or speaking more on the subject matter.


References:(Complete references needed)
Freeman and Freeman, Essential Linguistics

Brinton, D. Content Based Instruction.


Communicative Competence
Communicative competence is the aspect of knowing who one is speaking with, the setting in which the communication is taking place, and the appropriate usage for the language in that setting. A competent language user must learn to become proficient both in the appropriateness and efficacy of their communications. According to Wright (2010), the term “communicative competence” was first coined by Dell Hymes in 1972, and was expanded by Canale and Swain in 1980 (p. 34). The concept of communicative competence has its roots in the socio-cultural perspective. That is, it is the speaker's ability to engage in discourse in a variety of competencies based on the specific context.
Díaz Rico and weed (2010 identify Canales work from 1983 in which for specific components exist in the communicative competence process. Grammatical competence includes vocabulary, word meanings, sentence structure, punctuation's, and spelling proficiencies. Sociolinguistic competence addresses the status of the participants, and the purpose for the interactions based on social and cultural norms. Discourse competence can be further broken down into spoken communication (oracy) and written communications (literacy). Lastly, strategic competence addresses nonverbal communications that support the gaps in the other proficiencies, and can range from hand gestures to "a speaker raises or lowers the voice for effect" (Díaz Rico & weed, 2010, p. 59).
Freeman and Freeman (2004) identified five useful implications for teachers: 1) always assume that what the child is trying to communicate is important; 2) be sure to paraphrase the child's communication in order to seek a clearer understanding of what they're trying to say; 3) confirm the students intention of the communication; 4) reply at or just above the EL ells proficiency level; and lastly, 5) "encourage children to explore their understandings and use language for making meaning rather than asking students to respond to their specific questions with formulaic answers" (p. 9).
Wright (2010) cautions that it is tempting to place too much capital in the idea of "native speakers as the model of communicative competence to which all second language learners should strive" (p. 34). The shortcomings of communicative competence are that the perfect language knowledge simply doesn't exist, thereby making it relative based on the teachers' level of proficiency.
REFERENCES
Díaz-Rico, L. T. & Weed, K. Z. (2010). The cross-cultural, language, and academic
development handbook, fourth edition. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Freeman, D. E. & Freeman, Y. S. (2004). Essential Linguistics. Portsmouth, NH:
Heinemann.
Wright, W. E. (2010). Foundations for teaching English language learners: Research,
theory, policy, and practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon.