Essay Sample on Communicative Competence

Published: 2021-07-14
1584 words
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Middlebury College
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Literature review
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Communicative competence is a term that has developed over the ages regarding the definition and what it and entails where it has always represented what effective communication means. According to Saleh (2013) and Koran (2016), in 1972, the term communicate competence referred to referred to the level of language mastering and learning that enables a person to pass a message to others and at the same time enables the same person to understand others messages. In 1979, the term was taken to refer to the capacity of a speaker to introduce correctly formulated sentences that fit the purpose of communication while achieving a mutual understanding (Lecenciuc and Codreanu 2012). In 1980, the term was defined as to entail grammatical concepts, sociolinguistic and strategic competencies. By defining it this way, one was able to: demonstrate accuracy in the formulation of sentences and using the correct vocabulary; demonstrate an understanding of different languages according to the social context; and demonstrate using language to realize communicative goals and thus augment communication effectiveness (Saleh 2013; Lecenciuc and Codreanu 2012). In 1985, the term was understood as the ability of a person to initiate and uphold necessary contacts with other people (Ribakova et al. 2015).

In the early 90s, communication competence evolved into specifically referring to ones communicative language ability where in addition to the language and strategic competence, the term now constituted the psychological mechanisms involved in communication. The definition was further broken down to incorporate the organizational and pragmatic competencies about the initial language proficiency, and eventually encompassed the illocutionary competence which determined the language to be taken in different contexts. In other words, the definition now entailed the psychological and neurological aspects involved in the physical processes of execution of language by the communicating subject (Saleh 2013; Lecenciuc and Codreanu 2012).

In the late 90s, the term was taken to relate to the speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills of newly introduced communication concepts or languages rather than the already existing information and concepts (Saleh 2013; Benson 2014). In other words, communicative competence was taken to relate all the skills of writing, reading, listening and speaking with the same magnitude where one has to have proficiency in all these skills. Past the year 2000, as technology is becoming more and more common in communication, communicative aptitude contains more than just language skills and knowledge. It is now taken to constitute the attitudes towards the knowledge and discourse fluency of the given language, and the ability to incorporate practical skills in IT as a means of enhancing communication (Finegold & Notabartolo 2016; Fang 2010).

Communicative Competence in the Classroom

Communicative competence in the classroom entails teaching of a language to a given audience whereby both the teacher and the student are expected to attain proficient language mastery and application. In this case, the concept of communicative language teaching becomes paramount. The concept constitutes implicating a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm in language education whereby the teaching personnel implicates these factors through creating interactional relationships in class incorporating interesting topics in the curricula to motivate the students. In other words, the curriculum is molded into a framework that contains relevant motivational activities, and that encourages delivery of meaning rather than just the linguistic feature or structure of grammar (Yang 2015; Shuichi & Xuesong 2011). Therefore, communicative competence has motivated the development of language classes into a system that incorporates the entire communicative skills of the students which require the communicative proficiency of the teaching personnel.

Similarly, Agbatogun (2014) and Larsari (2011) talks of active learning as a booster of communicative competence in class. The essence of active learning is that varying pedagogical strategies bare different degrees of success. Consequently, aspects of continual active engagement which involve feedback from the teachers and enhanced mode of interaction among the students themselves and the teachers and students. In other words, the minimal interactions, scripts recitation in class, and less involvement of productive thinking by the students, which were incorporated in the traditional learning are modified to result in a more interactive framework that impacts the students more (Agbatogun 2014). Markedly, communicative competence in the classroom entails all the activities that aim at actively engaging the student in an intensive yet effective language learning process such that they attain high caliber communication skills from the basic grammar aspects to the physio-psychological aspects of effective communication in varying contexts.

The Link between Communicative Competence and Technology

When it comes to technology, many researchers have concluded that technology is a crucial part of delivering communicative competence (Agbatogun 2014; Astrid, Ester & Birgit 2011). Specifically, Astrid, Ester, and Birgit (2011) acknowledges that technology is necessary in relaying educative information and contents to learners worldwide. In this case, technology applies regarding social media such as Messenger, Twitter, or Facebook and other IT applications that enable communication among the teachers and their students in different cultures and countries (Shuichi and Xuesong 2011).

Notably, Godwin-Jones (2013) reckons that use of audio and visual technologies has been prominent in teaching and general learning of second languages. In this case, the students use videos to learn new languages through e-learning programs or simply through additional learning by using the internet video media such as YouTube. Currently, translational software and applications suited for electronic gadgets such as phones and computer systems have been highly used to enhance communicative competence. The users of this software and applications are those student trying to learn foreign languages and are interested in sharpening their pronunciation skills. Additionally, the same students use the electronic gadgets to build on their vocabulary or even learn cultural contexts that different communication aspects are used. In other words, technology, mostly through the internet, enables the students to go a mile away in learning new languages and in learning how to apply specific aspects of communication. Similarly, the teachers explore technology through the use of videos and audios in a bid to deliver communication competency in the students. Technology thus enables the both the students and the teachers to enhance communicative competency in language education.

Measuring and Assessing Communicative Competence

A plethora of models have been developed for measuring and assessing communicative competence. As already hinted out, IT applications and social media offer an excellent avenue of relying on educative information among the learners and the teachers. Notably, most of the IT applications are made such that they can collect corpora of data and information concerning communicative competence which can be used in the in-depth analysis of its effectiveness and popularity (Astrid, Ester & Birgit 2011). Further, there are computer based tasks which require students to collaboratively describe situations or visual objects provided to them through online chat avenues. Astrid, Ester, and Birgit (2011) acclaim such computer based modes of assessing and measuring communicative competence as having proven to be effective in evaluating strategic competence.

Pillar (n.d.) provides a framework for measuring communicative framework which tries to address the lack of efficient test models for oral language proficiency. Therefore in addition to comprehension aptitude and writing skills, Pillar (n.d.) offers a multidimensional interpretation of the oral language and communicative behavior of an individual. The framework is based on observational instruments that enable one to test the communicative competence of a person by allocating discrete-point tests. The key areas, in this case, include grammatical knowledge, linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic competencies. Through interpersonal spoken communication, the communicative competence is measured through integrated proficiency tests that incorporate observation instruments that measure both paralinguistic and verbal behavior.

Notably, Pillars framework proposes the use of questions (multiple choice), true or false statements, correct jumbled sentences and phrases, description requiring questions, and matching phrases of a sentence to test aural receptive skills. On the other hand, he proposes the use of question and answer format, monolog tests, picture description tests, role-play and dialogues with researchers as appropriate methods of assessing productive oral skills in which case the testing process is videotaped or audio-recorded (Markhabat 2017). The tests are then used to test for communicative competency in which case discrete-points are awarded to each student according to a given measurement and assessment criteria which could be scale based.



Agbatogun, A. (2014). Developing Learners Second Language Communicative Competence through Active Learning: Clickers or Communicative Approach?. Educational Technology & Society, [online] 17(2), pp.257-269. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jul. 2017].

Astrid, S., Ester2, S. and Birgit, S. (2011). Assessment of Communicative Competence. IX Jornadas Internacionales de Innovacion Universitaria, [online] pp.1-7. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jul. 2017].

Benson, B. (2014). Domain of Competence: Interpersonal and Communication Skills. Academic Pediatrics, 14(2), pp.S55-S65.

Fang, F. (2010). A Discussion on Developing Students Communicative Competence in College English Teaching in China. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 1(2).

Finegold, D. and Notabartolo, A. (2016). 21st-Century Competencies and Their Impact: An Interdisciplinary Literature Review. [online] pp.1-50. Available at:

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Yang, I., J., Y. (2014). The Implementation of Speaking Fluency in Communicative Language Teaching: An Observation of Adopting the 4/3/2 Activity in High Schools in China. International Journal of English Language Education, 2(1), pp.193-214.

Koran, E. (2017). Developing Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Competences in English as Foreign Language (EFL) Students at University Language Schools (Iraqi Case). Ph.D. International Black Sea University.

Larsari, V. (2011). Learners' communicative competence in English as a foreign language (EFL). Journal of English Language Teaching, [online] 2(7), pp.161-165. Available at:

Lesenciuc, A. And Codreanu, A. (2012). Interpersonal Communication Competence: Cultural Underpinnings. Journal...

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