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Second Language Acquisition for Teachers

Lecture 4
Communicative Competence

In this lecture
 What does teaching have to do with communicative competence?
 The construct of communicative competence
 Communication in the classroom
 Underlying theories of CLT (Communicative Language Teaching)
 Communication strategies for Strategic Competence

EFL teaching and Comm.Comp.

1) CLT: ‘Communicative Competence’ is the Goal


 Del Hymes (1971)
 Canale and Swain (1980, 1983)
 grammatical competence
 discourse competence
 socio-linguistic competence
 strategic competence
 Bachman (1990)

Which of the following activities do you expect to find in a


‘communicative lesson’?
 a) The students listen to a dialogue, then they repeat the sentences after the tape
one after the other.

 b) The teacher shows an object to the students and asks them what it is.

 c) The students write a dialogue in pairs or groups and then act it out.

 d) The teacher asks the students to translate a few sentences in a text.

 e) The students ask questions about grammar, and the teacher gives them a
good rule.

 f) The students keep practicing pronunciation until they can sound like a native.

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 g) While listening to a recorded text, the students follow the tape script in the back
of the book.

 h) In order to be able to use the new structure in communication, the students


memorize the dialogues in the book.

 i) The students each write a short description about a picture they have been
given.
ANSWER
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Need for underlying theory:


The current disarray in conceptualization, research and application in the area of
communicative language pedagogy results in large part from failure to consider
and develop an adequate theoretical framework.
(Canale, 1983, p. 2).

Underlying theory:
1) Theory of Language
2) Theory of Learning

Theory of Language
 1 Language is a system for the expression of meaning.
 2 Language is for interaction and communication.
 3 Structure reflects functional and communicative uses of language.
 4 Primary units of language: categories of functional and communicative
meaning as exemplified in discourse.

Theory of Learning

 1 The acquisition of communicative competence is essentially skills


development.
 2 The learning of skills involves both a cognitive and a behavioral aspect.

Communication
1 is a form of social interaction

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2 involves unpredictability and creativity
3 takes place in contexts: discourse & sociocultural
4 always has a purpose
5 is carried out under limiting conditions
6 involves authentic language
7 is judged as successful on the basis of outcomes

Communication involves
 the exchange & negotiation of information/meaning
 between at least two individuals through
 the use of verbal or non-verbal symbols,
 oral or written/visual modes

Selected features of Communicative Language Teaching


 meaning is paramount
 contextualization and authenticity are basic
 dialogues are not memorized
 judicious use of L1 accepted
 comprehensible pronunciation is the goal
 teachers help learners in any way that motivates them to work with the L2
 fluency precedes accuracy
 students learn best through struggling to communicate

‘Struggle to communicate’

What does it all mean for the communicative teacher?


 Put the learner into situations when they have to struggle:
 they have a goal
 they are motivated
 they get feedback
 they focus on the meaning
 Make it rewarding:

L2 learners’ struggle:
 Limited language knowledge
 Solution: develop strategic competence

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 Strategic competence concerns the ability to express oneself in the face of
difficulties or limited language knowledge

Strategic competence
is the mastery of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies, which can
enable us to
 overcome difficulties when communication breakdowns occur
 and to enhance the effectiveness of communication (e.g.: slow down,
paraphrase) .
Strategic competence
 We conceptualize strategic competence as knowledge of communication
strategies and how to use them.
(Celce Murcia, et al, 1995)

Types of Communication strategies


1)
 Avoidance or reduction strategies involve tailoring one's message to one's
resources by either
 replacing messages,
 avoiding topics, or, as an extreme case,
 abandoning one's message altogether.
‘Language learners should say what they can, and not what they want to.’
2)
Achievement or compensatory strategies involve manipulating available language
to reach a communicative goal and this may entail compensating for linguistic
deficiencies. (see Bialystok, 1990; Cook, 1993).

2.1
 Stalling or time-gaining strategies include
 fillers
 hesitation devices
 gambits
 repetitions (e.g., repeating what the other has said while thinking).

 Note: danger of L2 learners using taught fillers/gambits inappropriately if


the presentation has been superficial and not adequately contextualized.

2.2
 Self-monitoring strategies involve correcting or changing something in one's

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own speech (self-repair) as well as rephrasing (and often over-elaborating) one's
message to further ensure that it gets through.

3)
Interactional strategies highlight the cooperative aspect of strategy use.
 Appeals for help are similar to achievement strategies in function but through
using them the learner exploits his/her interlocutor's knowledge rather than
manipulating his/her own language resources.

 Meaning negotiation strategies are of various types:


 ways of indicating a problem,
 responding to such an indication,
 and making comprehension checks.

Other strategies:
 Going off the point
 Avoiding giving information
 Steering the conversation
 Appealing for help
 Interruptions

Where can teachers go wrong?