Position Statement on Using the Skills for Communicative Competence

A Collective Effort by the #MATLUPB Group

Linguistic Competence

The Role of Grammar

First, we have to deal with the problem of the dichotomy of grammar teaching. On the one hand, there is the traditional or formal grammar teaching, where it is used to explain the rules of language: structure, syntax and morphology, all of this out of context, but that is only the reductionist model. On the other hand, we have grammar that focused on speech based in “Correctness” and “Accent” demonizing teaching functional of traditional grammar. Knapp & Watkins (2005) explain that this dichotomy is unnecessary and instead all grammar is necessarily both formal and functional. Halliday proposed the use of grammar focusing on the purpose it has in specific social contexts rather than teaching grammar as parts of speech. So, grammar is not a standalone set of rules and definitions, it must be taught as a technology of language that allow us to understand its technical aspects, organize and explain the possibilities of language, this means that grammar should be a tool to ease the force of expression of the ideas people have on different settings. These different settings are taught as genres, which are based on the different purposes of language in communication: Describing, instructing, arguing, etc. and in this way helping students to improve their writing in each genre through the learning of grammar. For example teaching students the importance of punctuation, not just the rules and definition of punctuation marks, but how they drastically change the meaning of sentences, and how to use them to express ourselves better.

The Role of Pronunciation

The role of pronunciation in listening competence is the recognition of sounds and their different contexts. In addition, listening is a skill that emphasizes the intelligibility of the language system and it is application in the contexts it applies. Consequently, listening ability is the cognitive support for recognizing the variety of sounds and their communicative intentionality in a particular cultural system (non-verbal expression, spontaneous speech, accents, and formal expressions)

The role of reading refers to having a good pronunciation is basic to develop the reading skill, for that we need to have intelligibility for accomplishing the understanding of the ones are listening you, we also need to worry about stress and intonation when we are reading for ourselves and aloud for the other people

The role of speaking works in the training of pronunciation to help the oral production, the teaching of sounds is given first by the teacher to the students as a mimic where they repeat the sounds, if not effective the teacher explains the position of the lips and the language continuing with pronunciation exercises; then “the teacher can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help them formulate what they are trying to say”

In writing, the pronunciation is very useful to develop this skill; we need to make use of the phonetic of the words that we can find in a dictionary and through the conscious knowledge learn how to pronounce well and how to write the words we need, we should also know that one way to improve our writing skill is reading a lot because through the reading we acquire new vocabulary and more fluency; thus, we can say that this skill are tied.

Sociolinguistic Competence

The Role of Listening

Taking into account that the listening skill is the base of learning a language, we could say that this skill complements the development of sociolinguistic competence, because we first listen to the linguistic expressions and after that we understand them, we use them.

According to Nation & Newton, listening “gives the learner information for which to build up the knowledge necessary for using the language” (2009, p. 38), and the sociolinguistic competence is the ability of people to produce and understand linguistic expressions in different contexts.

According to the above, it is possible to affirm that the acquisition and the development of the first language depend largely on listening, and it is from this cognitive ability that the subject develop and improve other skills such as speech, memory, thinking and communication. These skills are directly linked with the sociolinguistic competence since each of these functions through the language, interpersonal and intrapersonal interaction.

On the other hand; in a classroom, it is important to consider listening as one of the primordial skills, that is why teachers should look for different activities to strengthen this ability in their students and take advantage of it. Some of the activities that teachers can do: use film fragments which have linguistic expressions and delegate to the students the task of identifying expressions, their meaning and their use according to context, use songs for students to listen while they are filling the blanks or expose students to conversations with foreigners who have knowledge of the subject.

The Role of Reading

Reading is a useful strategy to work in the classrooms because through it the rest of the competences may get improved and developed, especially oral/language skills. In the beginning, reading requires a certain level of language, what means linguistic competence (phonological, grammar, lexical) needs to be well constructed; this can also get increased during the readings, where students have the opportunity to acquire new vocabulary.

Likewise, practicing reading includes not only the process of decoding the sentences but also it is about the sounds of the words, so phonemes, morphemes and lexical competences are needed before starting to read because a previous knowledge of the language will be very helpful to read and to comprehend later.

As teachers, engaging reading activities are the key to transform learning and to work on the students’ competences because then they will have different approaches in a single activity, learning simultaneously and putting all their skills together, even if they are not conscious about it. Also, reading aloud, reading in groups and directed reading strategies are a way to develop the other competences like listening and pronunciation because in these kind of activities students have the chance to build their own knowledge and to mix all the competences in a cooperative and integrated way.

Finally, with collective works students have the occasion to work together, being able to participate in their own learning processes, interacting, sharing and modifying the activities according to their specific needs, as a group, and depending on their context.

The Role of Writing

Sociolinguistic deals with interpretation issues and what it implies: varieties of language, different meanings, or different uses of language according to certain social groups. It is a useful competence since it helps people to understand what something means and it does not restrict only to grammatical structures. Using writing ability in the classroom gives you the opportunity to share about your culture as well as learning from others. Students of English in a non-speaking English country can describe their own experiences. For this, they will need cultural background including different vocabulary in order to express themselves properly.

Writing offers a mode of appreciating language from a social, cultural and linguistic dimension. For students, this is a way of improvement for their actual communication in real life, in case they travel to an English as an official language country. Besides that, other competences such as reading, that are very linked to each other, gets developed also.

Writing can be useful for learners as it helps them to develop their ideas. In this format, the things they wrote can be read or used in a future for other people to understand some themes, societies and thoughts related to cultural aspects that the authors had in that specific time. Written languages through time and is preserved easier than oral form of language. Writing also improves the critical thinking capacity as students need to organize, recognize and be able to analyze social aspects of language in order to be better.

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