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A pre-requisite for communicative competence Intent of the paperThe purpose of this
Intent of the paper
The purpose of this paper is to examine what strategic competence is, the levels at which it functions and the utility value of such techniques to the development of an overall communicative competence. It also debates whether it is ethical to teach strategies instead of concrete language competence.
'Children can discover for themselves what they need to know , however, in order to get what they want they have to ask' observes June Bowser(1993). Oral communication encompasses asking, replying, discussing, debating etc.. Surprisingly, this is what our students are wanting, outside the class, in real life situations. Does this mean that our communicative language teaching methods do not work' Why are our learners inadequate in communicating with others in English' What makes them more confident in their own mother tongue with limited vocabulary and structures.'
Conversation is a spontaneous activity in the person's mother tongue but becomes a conscious articulation of ideas in the class room . to comprehend this enigma we need to understand the principles underlying effective communicative competence. What is communicative competence then' The ability to use the language correctly and appropriately to accomplish communication goals, is communicative competence. The desired outcome of the language learning process is, therefore, the ability to communicate competently, not the ability to use the language exactly as a native speaker does.
Components and importance of communicative competence Communicative competence is a combination of Linguistic competence (knowledge of grammar vocabulary and sentence structures) Socio-linguistic competence (understanding the relationships in te groups and using appropriate language code suitable to the context)Discourse competence ( capacity to continue conversation within the given framework)Strategic competence ( knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns, how to work around gaps in one's knowledge of the language, and how to learn more about the language and in the context.) The materials in the course books teach the first two with reasonable effect. Through practice and experience , discourse competence is achieved. So the only competence that is ignored is strategic competence. And ironically, it is this STRATEGIC COMPETENCE that is helping the children in their mother tongue. Fluency is achieved with strategies. Comfort levels increase with strategies. Drawbacks or limitations are camouflaged by strategies. So what are these strategies'
Role of strategies
Strategies are of two types. Reduction or avoidance strategies and achievement or expansions strategies. The former are difficult to spot, and are an obvious and essential part of a learner's instinctive repertoire. However, we want our students to widen their resources, to take risks, to actively expand their competence, so we shall probably be more interested in the latter.
Strategies function at two levels. One is at the word or sentence level and the other at the discourse level. The ones at the word or sentence level are code- switching, paraphrasing, restructuring, generalizing, etc., Sentence beginners, phrases expressing concern/attitude/disagreement, circumlocution, continuing conversations etc. fall into the second level.
Limitations However describing communication strategies, especially at the discourse level, cannot mean producing a set of rules for their correct or appropriate use. We know that rules are not always applicable to all situations and even with the more stringent language items like morphology and syntax. This specific training does not ensure or guarantee high communicative competence. Nevertheless this does not minimize its importance, as this leads to reflection and analysis- the two most important learning styles By providing our students with opportunities for using a variety of learning styles, we will be doing something for both our convergent, analytical learners on one side and for our divergent, memory- oriented learners on the other. Teaching Strategies. Though the concept sound logical and highly productive achieving it would entail proper planning, use of appropriate methods and materials.. It is relatively easy to teach ways of asking for clarification or keeping a conversation going; it is not so easy to teach turn-taking or topic-change procedures; paraphrasing and restructuring would be even more difficult. some guided activities and some developed by the student in free interaction tasks and still some through demonstrations alone would be an ideal combination of teaching strategies. Experience and observation may be the key methodologies involved. Students could start from a receptive stage: they could be exposed to actual examples of language use in which communication strategies play a clear and significant role. Then they could be led to become aware of the use of strategies through a stage of exploration and discussion. Bibliography
O'Malley'(1987): Teachability of strategic competence. Bialystok (1990): communicative strategies. Dornyie Z & Thurrell(1991): Strategic competence and how to teach it. Brown, G. & G. Yule: 1983a. Discourse Analysis. Cambridge University Press Ellis, R. 1985: Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford University Press. Johnson, K. 1981: Communicative Syllabus Design and Methodology. Pergamon Press. McCarthy, M. 1991: Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge University Press.