KNOWLEDGE OF LANGUAGEAbstract
Knowing a language has become a necessity in modern time and it requires to knowledge of language which consists of competence and performance. The aim of this article is to explain knowledge of language and it’s elements. It is written by using articles and books.
Linguistics is the study of knowledge of language which tells what it is, and guides how people acquire and use it (Smith, 1999). Knowledge includes knowing which sounds may start a word, end a word, and follow each other (Fromkin ; Rodman, 1978). Thanks to knowledge of language, learners know how to use target language and thus, they use effectively and fluently language skills to communicate with the other people. In Güney’s point of view (2010), ” a speaker of a language should have the capacity to utter the sounds and make sense of other’s utterances ” (p.7). Learners should know meaning of vocabularies and sentences to understand people’s utterances and are understood by them. It is said that, knowledge of language involves both having and understanding a conversation. In this regard, it consists of two elements which are to be competence and performance.Competence and PerformanceCompetence and performance are two important and different components underlying speaking effectiveness. According to Savigson, what one knows is competence but what one does is performance (1972). Performance involves the use of grammar which helps understanding and producing language but competence involves usage of this knowledge (Ellis, 1994). There is a difference between having knowledge to form a sentence and using this knowledge to perform linguistically (Fromkin & Rodman 1978). Distinction between usage and use was first introduced by Widdowson (1978). It is said that, competence is independent of performance and they serve at cross purposes but both of them form ” communicative competence.”
Communicative CompetenceAccording to Yule (2010), ”Communicative competence can be defined as the general ability to use language accurately, appropriately, and flexibly” (p.194). Also, it which involves sounds, meanings, words and putting them all together, is acquired unconsciously (Fromkin, Rodman & Hymas, 2009). In addition to this, Ellis (1994) states ‘communicative competence includes knowledge of the speaker-hearer has of what constitutes appropriate as well as correct language behavior and also of what constitutes effective language behavior in relation to particular communicative goals (p. 13). By this way, it involves linguistic and pragmatic knowledge (Ellis, 1994). Hymes (1974) who first introduced communicative competence, proposed the notion of this competence as an alternant to Chomsky’s linguistic competence. Forwhy, Chomsky delimited the study of performance in favor up the study of competence. Hymes thought that Chomsky’s notion was too narrow and not enough. With regard to this, learners can speak capably target language using this competence. According to Hymes’ theory, it also involves the culturally acceptable ways of interacting with people who speak some other language. It is said that knowing only knowledge of language is not enough to learn target language accurately. In addition this, his theory involves the interaction of grammatical, psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic, and probabilistic language components. Canale and Swain (1980) who improved Hymes’ theory purposed that communicative competence consists of four different components: Grammatical competence, discourse competence, sociolinguistic competence, and strategic competence.
Grammatical competence involves the accurate use of words and structures. Due to this, it comprises spelling, vocabulary, linguistic semantics, pronunciation, and word formation (Yule, 2010). Shumin (2002) states “Grammatical competence is an umbrella concept that includes increasing expertise in grammar (morphology, syntax), vocabulary, and mechanics (p.207). With regards to speaking, Scarcella and Oxford (1992) state ” the term mechanics refers to basic sounds of letters and syllables, pronunciation of words, intonation, and stress” (p. 141). Namely, it is said that, grammatical competence provides an opportunity for learners to comprehend English language and to use its structure accurately and thus; they can speak fluently in target language.
Discourse competence is defined by Bachman (1990) as ” the ability to use (produce and recognize) coherent and cohesive texts in an oral or written form” (p. 29). It helps holding communication together in a meaningful way and while learners speak, they formulate meaning of referents both previous sentences and following sentences (Shumin, 2002). It is said that, thanks to discourse competence, they make true sentences to express or indicate their ideas.
Only knowledge of language is not adequate to appropriate and effective use of target language. For this reason, learners also need to have sociolinguistic competence. In view of Hymes (1972), the definition of this competence is ”when to speak, when not, what to talk about with whom, when, where and in what manner” (p.277). It can be said that, sociolinguistic competence involves knowledge of social and cultural in a community. Shumin (2002) states ”understanding to sociolinguistic side of language helps learners know that comments are appropriate, know how to ask questions during interaction, and know how to respond and nonverbally according to the purpose of the talk” (p.207). Sociolinguistic is divided into two categories including micro-sociolinguistic and macro-sociolinguistic. Coulmas (1997, p.2) says that ‘micro-sociolingustics investigates how social structure influences the way people talk and how language varieties and patterns of use correlate with social attributes such as class, sex, and age. Macro-sociolinguistics, on the other hand, studies what societies do with their languages, that is, attitudes and attachments that account for the functional distribution of speech forms in society, language shift, maintenance, and replacement, the delimitation and interaction of speech communities.’ As a result, thanks to sociolinguistic competence, learners know how they behave and maintain an attitude to other people in a community where is spoken target language.
Strategic competence is defined ”as an ability to cope in an authentic communicate situation and to keep the communicate channel open” (Alptekin, 2002: 58). It recompenses undone knowledge of linguistic, sociolinguistic, and discourse rules (Bern, 1990). Moreover, strategic competence refers to the capacity to know when to take turns, how to go on a conversation, how to end it, and how to clean up communication and comprehension problems (Shumin, 2002).
As a result, knowledge of language consists of two elements which are to be competence and performance. Both of them form communicative competence. In addition this, communicative competence consists of grammatical competence, discourse competence, sociolinguistic competence, and strategic competence.
Alptekin, C. (2002). Towards Interculturel Communicative Compentence in ELT, ELT Journal, 56, 56-64.
Bachman, L.F. (1990). Constructing measures and measuring constructs. In B. Harley, P. Allen, J. Cummins ; M. Swain (Eds.), The Development of Second Language Proficiency. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Berns, M. (1990) Contexts of Competence: Social and cultural considerations in communicative language teaching. New York: Plenum Press.
Canale, M., ; Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1-47.
Coulmas, F. (ed.) (1997). The Handbook of Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ellis, R. (1994). The Second Language Acquisition: Second language acquisition research: An overview. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fromkin, V., ; Robert, R. (1978). An Introduction to Language: What is language?. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Fromkin, V., Robert, R., ; Hymas, Nina. (2009). An Introduction to Language : The nature of human language. Boston: Cengage Wadsworth.
Güney, ?. (2010). An Investigation into the Causes of Speaking Problems Experienced by Learners of English at Tertiary Level. MA Thesis. Anadolu University.
Hymes, D. (1972). On Communicative Competence. In J.B. Pride ; J. Holmes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics: Selected Tsui, A. (1996). Speaking. In K. Bailey and D. Nunan (Eds.), Voices from the Language Classsroom: Cambridge University Press.
Hymes, D. (1974). Fundations in Sociolinguistics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Savingson, S. J. (1972). Communicative Competence: An Experiment in Foreign Language Teaching. Philadelphia: Center for Curriculum Development.
Scarcella, R. C., ; Oxford, R. L. (1992). The Tapestry of Language Learning: The individual in the communicative classroom. Boston: Heinle and Heinle Publishers.
Shumin, K. (2002). Teaching Speaking. In J. C. Richards and W. A. Renandya (Eds.), Methodology in Language Teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, N. V. (1999). Chomsky Ideas and Ideals: The linguistic foundation. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Widdowson, H. G. (1978). Teaching Language as Communication : Usage and Use . Oxford: Oxford University.
Yule, G. (2010). The Study of Language : Second language acquisition / learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.