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Dell Hymes, in the year 1966, introduced the concept of Communicative competence, which in simple terms, is nothing but the potential of a language user/learner to communicate effectively or in the right way with the other language users/learners. Communicative competence is the foremost goal of contemporary language acquisition and education.
It includes not only speaking the grammatically correct language (taking the laws of phonetics, syntax, etc. into consideration), but also one which is socially accepted and appropriate. This means that the exchange of information/data between two people should not only be easily understandable but also presentable enough.
Almost a year before, Noam Chomsky had given the concept of competence and performance in his popular publication Aspects of the theory of syntax. Chomsky’s notion of competence, however, meant the mastery of a language user to deliver utterances just like the native language speaker. And in such an ideal speaker-listener case, sociocultural features weren’t taken into account.
Many critics of the applied linguistics found Hymes theory of Competency to be more realistic than Chomsky’s and hence widely accepted it. They believed that with so many discrepancies in learning, teaching and, for that matter, judging methodologies, it was hard to achieve the ideal version of pure Competency in a homogenous speech community. In the most simplified terms, effective communication was given weightage over an idealised version of communication.
As defined by Canale and Swain in the year 1980, communicative competence has the below mentioned components:
Grammatical competence: This comprises the correct usage of grammatical principles like syntax, phonetics, morphology, vocabulary during communication between two language users. Grammatically correct sentence formation is important for Communicative Competency.
Sociolinguistic competence: This involves the careful selection of words and phrases that beautifully fit into a particular place and the discussion topic. Not to forget, your relationship with the other speakers (your communication with a lover and a boss will be completely different!). So the right words and appropriate attitude also become an essential component.
Strategic competence: Learning, assessing and planning communicative strategies is equally important for Communicative Competence. Strategic competence takes into account the requisite skill to actually apply the knowledge of language and ability (performance) along with background information on cultural framework and social taboos in order to overthrow communication gaps.
Discourse competence: Some elements of the Sociolinguistic competence were shifted to into another category called as Discourse competence in 1983 by Canale. It comprises cohesion and coherence. Cohesion involves linking different sentences in a text to with regards to a common structure. For example, after using a noun in a sentence, we can always link it with consequent sentences by using pronoun in its place. Coherence links different sentences of a discourse by similar logic, relevance and meaning. Both cohesion and coherence render unity that holds a textual piece together, structurally and semantically.
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