Comunicative Competence Theory

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For clarity and emphasis, this study is anchored on Canale and Swain’s (1987) communicative competence theory. According to Canale and Swain (1987), there is a need of communicative competence as a synthesis of an underlying system of knowledge and skill needed for communication. In their concept of communicative competence, ‘knowledge’ refers to the conscious or unconscious knowledge of an individual about language and about other aspects of language use. According to them, there are three types of knowledge: knowledge of underlying grammatical principles, knowledge of how to use language in a social context in order to fulfill communicative functions and knowledge of how to combine utterances and communicative functions with respect to discourse…show more content…
He states that six or more years of instruction in English does not guarantee normal language communication. He suggests that communicative abilities have to be developed at the same time as the linguistic skills; otherwise the mere acquisition of the linguistic skills may inhibit the development of communicative abilities. Widdowson’s idea seems to be influenced by Hymes’ thought that children acquire not only the knowledge of grammar, but also the knowledge of appropriateness. Hymes points out that children acquire knowledge of sociocultural rules such as when to speak, when not to speak, what to talk about with whom and in what manner, at the same time as they acquire knowledge of grammatical rules. With this, Widdowson (1983) strongly suggests that communicative competence be taught alongside with grammatical competence. To make the decision of teaching both linguistic and communicative competence clear, Widdowson distinguishes two aspects of performance: “usage” and “use”. He explains that “usage” makes evident the extent to which the language user demonstrates his knowledge of linguistic rules, whereas “use” makes evident the extent to which the language user demonstrates his ability to use his knowledge of linguistic rules for effective communication. He also distinguishes two aspects of meaning: “significance” and “value”. Significance is the meaning that sentences have in isolation from the particular situation in which the sentence is produced. Value is the meaning that sentences take on when they are used to

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