Answer Expert #4449
The aim of learning a foreign language is to achieve communicative competence; i.e., the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately (Hymes: 1966). There are different components of communicative competence: structural, sociolinguistic, discourse, strategic and intercultural (Canale: 1983). First, structural competence refers to the proficiency of the linguistic inventory; including grammatical and morphological rules, lexicon, and phonology. Structural competence may be evaluated through the assessment of a linguistic performance in a communicative context. A performance will be deemed efficient considering all four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening (Bachman: 1990). Communicative tasks combining the performance of different skills are the preferred assessment method. Secondly, sociolinguistic competence is the capacity to communicate using the rules and conventions of the target language culture. To evaluate sociolinguistic competence, teachers need to evaluate the students’ performance in a semi-authentic context. Thirdly, discourse competence can be defined as the capability of a student to arrange sentences to construct a coherent discourse (Trujillo and Ortega: 2010). This competence may be evaluated through continuous assessment of students’ performance of both their oral and written work (Heng-Tsung and Shao-Ting: 2010). Fourthly, strategic competence can be defined as the strategies employed by students to compensate for their lack of structural competence (Frey et al.: 1991). To evaluate strategic competence, students should perform tasks involving communication with other students; for example, defining an item or situation collaboratively. Their strategies may include the use of synonyms, antonyms, definitions, or descriptions. Finally, intercultural competence is linked to sociolinguistics as it is the learners’ capacity to communicate effectively and appropriately across cultures (Fantini: 2009). This competence may be evaluated through different types of tests, assessing various dimensions, including characteristics and domains of intercultural competence and language proficiency.
ReferencesBachman, L.F., 1990. Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Canale, M., 1983. From communicative competence to communicative language pedagogy. Language and communication, 1, pp.1-47.
Fantini, A.E. 2009. Assessing intercultural competence. In Deardorff, D.K. (Ed.) The SAGE handbook of intercultural competence. London: Sage, pp.456-476.
Frey, L.R., Botan, C.H., Friedman, P.G., & Kreps, G.L. (1991). Investigating Communication: An Introduction to Research Methods. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Heng-Tsung, D. and Shao-Ting, A. (2010). Implementing electronic speaking portfolios: perceptions of EFL. British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol 41, No 5 (2010), pp. 84–88.
Hymes, D., 1966. Language in culture and society. New York: Harper and Row.
Trujillo, F. and ORTEGA, J., 2010. Discourse Competence. Dealing with Texts in the EFL Classroom. In Madrid, D. and McLaren, N. (Eds.) TEFL in Secondary Education. Granada: Editorial Universidad de Granada, pp. 123-145.