1. Historical overview of the development of the notion of "communicative competence".

1.1. the model development

Chomsky (1965) in "Aspects of the Theory of Syntax."

competence and performance

competence is the perfect knowledge of an ideal speaker-listener of the language in a homogeneous speech community.

linguistic knowledge is separated from sociocultural features

"Linguistic theory is 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. (1965 p.3)"


Hymes (1972)

points out that Chomsky's competence/performance model does not provide an explicit place for sociocultural features.

also points out that Chomsky's notion of performance seems confused between actual performance and underlying rules of performance.

"Communicative Competence"

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;

4. Whether (and to what degree) something is in fact done, actually performed and what its doing entails.

It can be said that these four represent the four aspects of language user's knowledge and ability. by Munby (1981)

1. grammatical

2. psycholinguistic

3. sociocultural

4. de facto



Halliday (1971,72)

rejects dichotomy of competence/performance

"meaning-potential" covers both knowing and doing

the notion of language functions

macro- and micro- functions


1. ideational

2. manipulative

3. heuristic

4. imaginative

(Firthian view of language) affected by Malinowski

language is as a mode of human behavior (social interaction)

the context of situation provides a first approximation to the specification of the components of the communication situation


Widdowson (1978)

use and usage

usage --- manifestation of the knowledge of language system

use --- realization of the language system as meaningful ` communicative behavior

both are the aspects of "performance"

(take note)

The distinction of "usage" and "use" is based on the notion of "effectiveness for communication" This means that an utterance with a well-formed grammatical structure may or may not have a sufficient value for communication in a given context.

Whether an utterance has a sufficient communicative value or not is determined in discourse. This is why Widdowson's approach is considered as discourse-based approach.

cohesion and coherence --- emphasized discourse


Munby (1978)

1. linguistic encoding

2. sociocultural orientation

3. sociosemantic basis of linguistic knowledge

4. discourse level of operation


Canale and Swain (1980), Canale (1983)

four components of Communicative Competence (just a list!)

1. grammatical competence

concerned with mastery of the language code itself

2. discourse competence

concerns mastery of how to combine grammatical forms and meanings to achieve a unified spoken or written text in different genres

3. sociolinguistic competence

addresses the extent to which utterances are produced and understood appropriately in different sociolinguistic contexts depending on contextual factors

4. strategic competence

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


Savignon (1983)

interactional approach

the development of learners' communicative competence is defined as "expression, interpretation, and negotiation of meaning involving interaction between two or more persons or between one person and a written or oral text".

The central characteristics of competence in communication are associated with:

1. the dynamic, interpersonal nature of communicative competence and its dependence on the negotiation of meaning between two or more persons who share to some degree the same symbolic system

2. its application to both spoken and written language as well as to many other symbolic systems

3. the role of context in determining a specific communicative competence, the infinite variety of situations in which communication takes place, and the dependence of success in a particular role on one's understanding of the context and on prior experience of a similar kind

4. communicative competence as a relative, not absolute, concept, one dependent on the cooperation of all participants, a situation which makes it reasonable to speak of degrees of communicative competence.

Bachman (1990)

tree model of CC

1. Language Competence

a. Organizational Competence

(i) grammatical competence

(II) textual competence

+ cohesion/coherence

+ conversational analysis

Grice (1975), Sinclair and Coulthard (1975), Hatch (1978), Hatch and Long (1980), Richards and Schmidt (1983)

b. Pragmatic Competence

(i) illocutionary competence

+ speech acts

Austin (1962), Searle (1969)

+ language functions

Halliday (1973) macro- and micro-functions

(ii) sociolinguistic competence

sensitivity to differences in (a) dialects, or varieties, (b) register, (c) naturalness

ability to interpret cultural references and figures of speech

2. Strategic Competence

pointing out that Canale and Swain's and Canale's model did not describe the mechanisms by which strategic competence operates.

referred to Faerch and Kasper (1983)'s view on strategic competence

+ interactional view --- CS functions as compensation for communication breakdowns

psycholinguistic view --- enhance rhetorical effect of utterances

+ Faerch and Kasper (1983) drew on the psycholinguistic work (Clark and Clark 1977) and described two phases of communication strategy, which is (a) planning and (b) execution

three phases (Bachman added assessment phase to F and K's model)

(1) assessment

(2) planning

(3) execution

3. Psychophysiological Mechanisms

channel --- visual/auditory

mode --- productive/receptive

2. Model Assessment

CC model revised

1. Grammatical Competence

the knowledge of abstract language system

2. Discourse Competence


Gricean maxims

conversational competence

speech acts

3. Sociolinguistic Competence

appropriacy of language form

language function

interactional patterns

sociocultural values and constraints

speech acts

4. Strategic Competence

1. assessment

in order to assess speech situations properly, sufficient background knowledge (e.g. social values, taboos, interactional patterns, interlocuter's personality, topic selection, etc.)is needed.

also, precise evaluation of effectiveness is necessary.

2. planning

3. execution (closely related to "psychophysiological mechanisms")

5. Psychophysiological Mechanisms

actual performative skills

4 skills

Now, let's assess what is needed for some language performances:

(example 1) "pronunciation"

1. phonological knowledge (grammatical)

2. ariticulatory capability (psychophysiological)

3. paralinguistic features: e.g. appropriate tone of voice (sociolinguistic, discourse)

all of the above go through the processes of assessment, planning and execution. (strategic)

(example 2) "listening to an oral text"

1. phonological knowledge (grammatical)

2. perceptual capability (psychophysiological)

3. inferencing: correct guessing of sounds and words and constructing meanings in a text (discourse, also sociolinguistic)

all of the above go through the processes of assessment, planning and execution. (strategic)

2. Mapping of areas of study onto CC model

a. Grammatical Competence

Chomsky (1965)

Prabhu (1983)

b. Discourse Competence

pragmatic elements

1. conversational analysis (e.g. Coulthard's (1977) adjacency pairs)

2. Gricean maxims

3. Cohesion/coherence (Halliday & Hasan 1976)

4. Speech Acts/Speech Events (Ranney 1992)

5. Pragmatic Failure & Transfer (Thomas 1983, Beebe et. al. 1985)

6. Planned/unplanned discourse (Ochs 1979)

c. Sociolinguistic Competence

BICS/CALP (Cummins 1979, 84)

Speech Acts (Brown & Levinson 1978, Austin 1962, Wolfson 1981, Holmes and Brown 1987)

Pragmatic Failure & Transfer (Thomas 1983, Beebe et. al. 1985)

d. Strategic Competence

Faerch and Kasper (1983 or 84)

Tarone (1981)

Wolfson (1983) "remedial interchange"

Bachman (1990)

e. Psychophysiological Mechanisms

Bachman (1990)


1. Some studies and theories do not neatly fit into one component of CC and overlap several components. For instance, interactional competence, in Kramsch's term, cannot be categorized as a part of sociolinguistic competence. ("interactional competence" is related to research on group work done by Long & Porter 1985, Pica & Doughty 1985, Varonis & Gass 1985)

speech act theory --- discourse, sociolinguistic, strategic

pragmatic transfer & failure --- discourse, sociolinguistic

2. The definition of CC varies depending upon learner's needs to communicate in TL and contexts in which TL is used.

McGroarty (1984)




3. Related Areas of Study

1. discourse analysis

Goffman (1976) conversational analysis

Grice (1975)

Cooperative Principles

Conversational Maxims

1. relation

2. quantity

3. quality

4. manner

Sinclair and Coulthard (1975)

classroom discourse

Coulthard (1977) adjacency pairs

Ochs (1979) planned/unplanned discourse

defined by whether the speaker have had the chance to plan what is to be said before uttering discourse.

in unplanned discourse, speakers use contexts to express propositions which would otherwise be expressed syntactically.

Hatch (1978)

Hatch and Long (1980)

Richards and Schmidt (1983)

Hatch (1992)

2. speech act theory

Austin (1962)

locutionary/illocutionary/perlocutionary acts

Searle (1969)

Brown and Levinson (1978)

Wolfson (1981) on compliments

Olshtain and Cohen (1983) on apology

Hatch (1983)

speech acts and small structured speech events

Beebe et. al. (1985) pragmatic transfer (sociolinguistic transfer in Wolfson's term)

discourse completion test

used semantic formulas and found the transfer in three areas: the order, the frequency and the content of semantic formulas

this study shows that many speech acts, small structured speech events reflect fundamental cultural values.

Ranney (1992)

doctor-patient speech event

claims that learning forms for speech acts and politeness is only part of acquiring sociolinguistic competence. Too much emphasis on teaching conventional speech act and politeness forms may mislead learners into thinking that politeness may always be conveyed by using conventional forms.

in order to make conscious sociolinguistic choices, learners need considerable cultural information about communicative settings and roles.

Holmes and Brown (1987) see below

3. Interactional Competence

Schmidt (1983)

Kramsch (1986)

points out that inability of or insensitivity to L2 discourse may lead to impede communication more than grammatical inaccuracy

Long and Porter (1985)

Pica and Doughty (1985)

Varonis and Gass (1985)

4. Cross-cultural considerations

Thomas (1983)

"pragmatic failure"---"the inability to understand what is meant by what is said."

"pragmalinguistic failure" --- caused by mistaken beliefs about pragmatic force of utterance

"sociopragmatic failure" --- caused by different beliefs about rights, 'mentionables', etc.

It is not the responsibility of the language teacher qua linguist to enforce Anglo-Saxon standards of behaviour, linguistic or otherwise. Rather, it is the teacher's job to equip the student to express her/himself in exactly the ways s/he chooses to do so-rudely, tactfully, or in an elaborately polite manner. What we want to prevent is her/his being unintentionally rude or subservient.

Holmes and Brown (1987)

based on Thomas's theoretical framework (1983) and Manes and Wolfson's work on compliment (1981)

suggests that the formulaic nature of compliments provides an ways solution to the problem of how to express this speech act in English and that pragmalinguistic competence can be taught in the same way as any other linguistic formulas

developing sociocultural awareness will lead to some discussion of the differences between the cultural and social values of a L1 learner and L2 community

Tannen (1976) Greeks and Greek Americans

Her most indirect forms were taken as directives by her Greek host family.

Wolfson (1981)

cross-cultural miscommunication on compliments

Learners with different cultural background simply do not understand why Americans compliment so frequently



4. Implications into Language Teaching

Some approaches proposed

Savignon (1983) interactional approach (meaning-making)

"expression, interpretation and negotiation of meaning involving interaction between two or more persons or between one person and a written or oral text"

Widdowson (1978) discourse-based approach

Prabhu (1983) Procedural approach

Mohan (19??) Content-based instruction

Nunan (1988) Learner-centered approach

(Communicative Language Teaching) according to Richards and Rodgers (1986)

1. Background

a. British functional approach (Firth, Halliday)

b. American sociolinguistic approach (Labov, Hymes, Gumperz)

c. Linguistic philosophy (Austin, Searle)

2. Versions (by Howatt 1984)

a. strong version --- using TL to learn it

b. weak version --- learning to use TL

b is dominant.

3. Principles

a. use > usage

b. meaning > form

c. fluency > accuracy

d. contextualized > decontextualized

e. learner-centered, experience-centered

Problems of CLT

When we draw some implications into language classroom from the development of the theory of communicative competence, the term communicative approach is often associated with it. On the surface level, it seems reasonable to say that the goal of communicative approach of language teaching is to make learners acquire communicative competence. If it is so, then learners have to cover all five components that the model proposed here suggests. This is too demanding a goal for any learner to achieve.

We must be aware that there is some degree of discrepancy between the principles of CLT and what the theory of CC suggests. CLT emphasized on the ability to execute one's communicative needs rather than on the complete knowledge of language use for communication. According to Richards and Rodgers (1986), CLT has some priority principles such as:

use > usage

meaning > form

fluency > accuracy

The notion of communicative competence intended by Hymes does not provide any priorities for any single components, or aspects over another. Hymes did not claim that a language user does not need to have a accurate knowledge of linguistic form or usage, but rather claimed that the perfect knowledge of linguistic form is not enough to make him/her a communicatively competent language user. Wolfson (1989) points out that grammatical competence is an intrinsic part of communicative competence but in many cases, the term CC misinterpreted for language teachers and curriculum developers as the separation of grammatical competence from CC.

If CLT's goal should be the acquisition of CC in TL, this is highly demanding for any L2 learner to achieve and does not seem achievable, consequently. Therefore, if we need to set up an accessible goal of LT, we must first assess what kind and level of communicative competence will be sufficient for specific L2 learners in a specific situations. This means that learning goals cannot be prescribed until learners' needs and wants and the contexts in which they use TL are described. Also, the curriculum has to be designed by the gradual developmental change of learner's language. Therefore, the focuses and emphases on form/function or fluency/accuracy should be shifted and consequently, the priorities mentioned above will be changed as the course and language learners' language ability progress.

McGroarty (1984) suggests that communicative needs of language use varies from learner to learner.

SLA トップページへ戻る