The Importance Of Comunicative Competence

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In the early 1970s, in an attempt to overcome more traditional and grammatical approaches, classes adopted a more communicative behaviour, with interaction being the central point of language teaching and learning. The theory of Communicative Competence introduced by the sociolinguist Dell Hymes (1966) was developed as an answer to Chomsky’s idea of linguistic competence. Chomsky (1965) made a distinction between “competence - knowledge of the language” and “performance - the actual use of language in concrete situations”, considering the first an innate process (Universal Grammar). Hymes, on the other hand, spoke of the learner’s competence to combine grammatical and sociocultural knowledge as well. This theory was further enhanced by Canale and Swain (1980) who stressed the division of communicative competence into strategic, grammatical, and sociolinguistic. This division did not underestimate the importance of grammar, it just put grammatical competence into a more widely defined communicative competence model (Savignon, 2002: 7). Later on, discourse competence was added to comprise with the other three components of a learner’s communicative competence (Savignon, 2002: 7-9), in order for the learner to be able to expand most effectively h/her communicative competence of a second language.

With the focus on communicative competence, notions such as “comprehensible input” (Krashen, 1982) “negotiation of meaning” (M. Long, 1985) and “comprehensible output” (Swain, 1985)
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