chapter  4
9 Pages

Michael McCarthy and Ronald Carter Designing the Discourse Syllabus

Ever since Chomsky (1965) made the distinction between competence and performance, that is what a person knows about his or her language as opposed to what can be observed from manifestations of actual use, linguists have debated just what ‘competence’ might mean. Chomsky was concerned with the fact that native-speakers have an underlying knowledge of what constitutes a well-formed sentence in their own language, and he set about trying to account for such knowledge. But it was not long before the notion of competence was expanded to embrace what a speaker needs to know about how a language is used in particular situations for effective and appropriate communication, in other words communicative competence (see Hymes 1971).