As we all know, the purpose of learning a certain language is to put it into practical use. Nowadays, more and more foreigners come to learn Chinese in China, thus communicating with Chinese people. Therefore, the key point for teachers is to train students’ communicative competence. But before that, they should know more ideals about the communicative competence both in linguistic filed and the language teaching field.
Those foreign learners who study in China may be told that the term “communicative competence” was firstly put forward by the famous linguist Hymes, which is relatively defined with the “linguistic competence” that came up with by Chomsky. However, Hymes thinks that the range of Chomsky’s “linguistic competence” is too limited because it is only related to the abstract grammar.
The communicative competence should consist of four aspects, namely, possibility, feasibility, appropriateness and performance. From the view of what Hymes knows about the communicative ability, his definition includes that of what Chomsky said. But the differences that students who learn Mandarin in China know are that the former is made up of two parts, the language knowledge and the skills and techniques of using language knowledge. But Chomsky concerns more about the ability to use language.
After the concept of the communicative competence was put forward, a lot of linguists started to state their ideas about it. Among so many linguists, the most influential two should be Canale and Swain, with which some foreigners who study Chinese may be familiar. Both of them all hold the opinion that the communicative competence has four essential parts, namely, the grammatical competence, the sociolinguistic competence, the strategic competence and the discourse competence.
Among the four necessary elements, the grammatical competence includes not only the language knowledge, but also the knowledge about the language rules. From the ideas about the communicative competence, the grammatical competence has a stronger practical significance. When foreigners learn in Chinese language school, teachers would tell them that Canale and Swain think the communicative competence includes both language ability and the capability of using language.
All above are some basic and main ideas about the communicative competence. In order to gain more knowledge about it, we will discuss the ideas in language teaching field to those who learn Mandarin Chinese in China. Knowing more about the communicative competence is beneficial for teachers to teach students with the proper methods, at the same time, help students to learn a certain language effectively.
The fundamental nature of the language lies in the language communication. And the communication itself is a process of language application. Besides, it is a dynamic process and we should teach and learn language in a dynamic process. When foreign learners study Mandarin Chinese in China, they may have realized that the way of learning and teaching language in communication and application has been widely valued and approved in the Chinese teaching field.
Since the years in the 1980s, all kinds of outlines in college English teaching have been emphasizing the purpose of English teaching is to train students’ ability to communicate with people in foreign language. Some westerners may have heard about the famous professor Li Xiaoju when they study in Mandarin learning courses. In the teaching process, she summarizes the communicative competence into three aspects, namely, knowledge, skill and competence.
According to her, “knowledge” is the language knowledge which includes three kinds of knowledge. They are the knowledge of the language form and function as well as the discourse knowledge. The “skill” is made up of language skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing. And the “competence” is the capability to use language. In accordance with professor Li’s ideas, one point students should realize when they learn to speak Chinese is that only when one possesses “knowledge”, “skill” and “competence” can he really reach the better communicative competence.
Therefore, the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language is absorbing the theories about the communicative competence as well as combining the characteristics of the subjects to apply more effective methods to teaching Chinese language. When learning Mandarin Chinese, students may be told that five elements are important to the communicative competence like language elements, pragmatic principles, relevant cultural knowledge, language skills and language communication skills.
After introducing so much information about the theories of the communicative competence, we know that the communication capability is so important. In addition, we should do more to gain better communication competence.