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Essay On Communicative Competence

Communicative Approach Essay

Throughout history of the world there have been many methods in language teaching. One of them is the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) ,it is a new teaching approach in Britain, having been introduced in the 1970's, and it has become a popular approach since the 1980's. Many researchers have helped to develop the theory and practice of CLT, among them, Hymes (1972), Brumfit and Johnson (1979).

Communicative Language Tteaching is a method focus on using of communicative as the main tool in teaching language. Littlewood(1981) states that language is used as a tool for communication.

CLT has several characteristics that make it successful from the other ones.

The study is to enable students to be competent in the four skills, and make teachers and students will know the interesting part communicative approach. Also, Students may be can improve their self confidence, share idea, and opinion.

According to Widdowson(1978) Students may know the rules of linguistic usage, but be unable to use the language, from that opinion we have noticed that should answer for some questions about characteristics of communicative language teaching.

*To what extent the characteristics address learners' need?

* How does the teacher manage material for students in some skills in English and apply it in classroom?



-Background of CLT.

-Definition of CLT.

-Thesis statement: Communicative Language Teaching has its characteristics.


The characteristics of CLT:

T.S1: focus on communicative competence.

T.S2: the teachers' role.

T.S3: the student's role.

T.S4: use the classroom activities.

T.S5: a tolerance of errors.

T.S6: goals of fluency.


A small summarize about all what we have mentioned before.

Many researchers had list the characteristics of CLT; main of them are:

First, focus on communicative it is an important element in CLT, it focuses on language as a medium communication. The language teaching goals should contain all the components in communicative competence. For example, learners, after they study the target language, should not only be able to listen to a large part of the authentic speech utterances, speak relatively fluently in the target language and make themselves understood; but also be able to read printed materials of average difficulty and write relatively properly in the target language . Finocchiaro and Brumfit(1983) CLT: attempts to communicate may be encouraged from the very beginning.

Second, teachers' role we find the teacher in communicative approach control- power in classroom, as facilitator among students and variety of tasks is guidance and adviser if necessary independent participant in learning teaching group. In addition...

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Communicative competence is a theory that seeks to understand an individual's ability to effectively convey meaning within given contexts. The most widely-accepted components of this ability include grammatical competence, discourse competence, sociolinguistic competence, and strategic competence. While the theory of communicative competence has been greatly influential in changing the nature of classroom instruction, some controversy exists over how much students learn from implicit and direct methods of instruction, and over how to best assess communicative competence. Current trends indicate that communicative competence will continue to be an important theory in language classrooms, though the direct instruction of language forms may become more prevalent in the near future.

Keywords Communicative Competence; Communicative Language Teaching; Discourse Competence; Form Focused Instruction; Grammatical Competence; Negotiation of Meaning; Register; Socio-cultural Competence; Sociolinguistic Competence; Speech Act Theory; Strategic Competence


When people use language, they use much more that just words. A successful conversation requires speakers to choose language forms that make sense and are appropriate to a particular context. To be appropriate, speakers must consider the social expectations that govern a context such as taboos and the level of formality. They must use their grammatical knowledge to accurately structure their ideas in understandable phrases and sentences. They must use intonations and stresses that support the intended meaning of their words, and they must constantly interpret verbal and non-verbal feedback in order to choose their next set of utterances.

To negotiate such a sophisticated interaction requires participants to have communicative competence. Communicative competence describes one's ability effectively communicate meaning to a variety people across a variety of contexts.(Hymes, 1972). According to the widely-cited framework produced by Canale & Swain (1980) there are four components of communicative competence. These are grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence.

Grammatical competence includes knowledge of vocabulary, pronunciation, sound-letter relationships, and the rules of word and sentence formation. This category of communicative competence has been traditionally associated with language learning.

Sociolinguistic competence describes an individual's ability to produce and understand appropriate utterances within a given context. Included in this domain is the use of speech acts, which are formulaic utterances, used in specific situations to achieve actions like thanking, greeting, requesting, responding, etc. This category also includes an individual's understanding of etiquette in a variety of social situations.

Discourse competence refers to an individual's ability to combine grammatical forms and meanings to create a unified text in different genres. Genres may be written (i.e. a narrative, or argument) or spoken (i.e. the distinctive speech styles found in regional, age, gender, and class groups) (Sato, 1990). Investigations within this domain have found that miscommunication can occur when individuals have differing discourse styles (Sato, 1990).

The last component, strategic competence, refers to an individual's ability to compensate for a lack of linguistic knowledge. For example, a speaker who doesn't know the word "triangle" may describe the shape by saying "it's a shape with three straight sides" so that the listener can understand the speaker's intended meaning and supply the correct word.

While these four components seem to be widely accepted in the literature, a few adaptations to the basic framework have been proposed. One change is to add a socio-cultural competence component, which describes an individual's ability to understand how culture affects communication (University of Minnesota(b), 2007). Another redesign of the framework is the creation of five categories including discourse (the core competency), linguistic, actional, socio-cultural and strategic (Celce-Murcia, Dornyei, & Thurrell, 1997).


Linguistic Theory: Chomsky

The communicative competence concept began developing in the early 1970s, when Hymes (1972) rejected Chomsky's (1965) theory concerning a distinction between linguistic competence and linguistic performance. According to Chomsky, linguistic theory was mainly concerned with the study of an ideal listener or speaker, who, in an ideal homogenized speech community, unaffected by interferences such as memory loss, distractions, and other random limitations, would produce a perfect grammar. Chomsky called the idealized capacity for language production a speaker's competence and the actual language produced the speaker's performance. Performance, according to Chomsky, rarely realizes the idealized possibilities of which a speaker is capable.

Hymes rejected several aspects of Chomsky's theory on the grounds that it did not account for socio-cultural factors that affect performance. Instead of viewing language performances that strayed from a perfect, idealized usage as mistakes, Hymes argued that these performances actually demonstrated another type of competence: the ability to apply social rules to language.

Hymes broadened the definition of competence, arguing that there are several components of communicative competence, only one of which is grammatical knowledge. He suggested four questions that an integrated theory of linguistics, communication, and culture (aka communicative competence) must be concerned with. These were:

• Whether, and to what degree, something is formallypossible

• Whether, and to what degree, something isfeasible in virtue of the means of implementation

• Whether, and to what degree, something isappropriate (adequate, happy, successful) in relation to the context in which it is used and evaluated

• Whether, and to what degree, something is in factdone, or performed, and what its doing entails (Hymes, 1972, p. 281).

Speech Act Theory

Following Hyme's introduction of the term, the field of research on communicative competence quickly expanded. In the field of pragmatics, speech act theory (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1969, 1975), which classifies language according to communicative functions, became a prominent means for analyzing communicative competence. According to the theory, communicative functions are realized through the performance of speech acts – minimal units of discourse – such as thanking, greeting, requesting, apologizing, etc. Through the study of speech acts, linguists have developed a more specific understanding of what kind of language is deemed communicatively competent in specific contexts.

Language Acquisition

Language acquisition researchers sought to understand when and how communicative competence is learned. Studies on the language of children suggest that by the age of three or four, children are already varying their register – defined as systematic language patterns used in specific types of situations – to meet the demands of context (Anderson, 1990). In the second language acquisition field, researchers compared the development of communicative competence in native speakers to language learners in order to identify and understand existing differences. A major question linguists asked in this field was how an individual's knowledge of first language rules for communicative competence affected his or her ability to competently communicate in his or her second language.

Strategic Competence

In the 1970s, Savignon added to the definition of communicative competence by using the term to describe...