What Does Language Competence Mean

Language competence is a wide phrase that relates to the ability to use language not just accurately grammatically but also appropriately in sociolinguistic circumstances, with the latter being more essential than the former. This is also known as Communicative Competency. The concept of communicative competence (a term coined by linguist Dell Hymes in 1972) arose in response to resistance to Noam Chomsky’s (1965) concept of linguistic competence, which Chomsky claimed was innate to native speakers and allowed them to understand and produce an infinite number of grammatical (only grammatical) sentences.  Most scholars now consider linguistic competence to be a part of communicative competence. In 1980, Michael Canale and Merrill Swain identified four components of communicative competence:

  • Phonology, orthography, vocabulary, word construction, and sentence building are all examples of grammatical competence.
  • Knowledge of sociocultural rules of usage is part of sociolinguistic competency. It is focused with the learners’ capacity to deal with various sociolinguistic situations, such as settings, themes, and communication functions. Furthermore, it addresses the use of suitable grammatical forms for various communication roles in various sociolinguistic situations.
  • The mastery of comprehending and generating texts in the modalities of listening, speaking, reading, and writing is associated with discourse competence. It discusses cohesion and coherence in many sorts of writings.
  • Strategic competence refers to compensatory strategies used in the face of grammatical, sociolinguistic, or discourse difficulties, such as the use of reference sources, grammatical and lexical paraphrase, requests for repetition, clarification, slower speech, or difficulties addressing strangers when unsure of their social status—or difficulties in locating the appropriate cohesion devices. It is also concerned with performance aspects such as dealing with background noise and employing gap fillers.

Language Competence particular learning outcomes relate with language knowledge and the capacity to utilise that information to read and generate meaningful texts suitable to the circumstances in which they are used. Language competency is best developed in the context of learning activities or tasks that include the use of the language for real-world reasons, or in practical applications.