English Teaching Methods

Theory of Competence

Pioneers of in the conception of competence,

  1. Saussure – Language vs Parole – Structuralism
  2. Chomsky – Competence vs Performance – Transformative – Generative Grammar
  3. Hymes – Communicative Competence

Language and Parole

Language is a system of science, from the smallest units such as phonemes and to largest unit text, all these are system and they are interrelated with each other.

Language is underlying knowledge of the language including grammar rules, but parole is the actual ability to use the language. So, knowledge and ability are different object from perspective of

We can say that structuralism, linguistics is a theory of language.

Competence vs Performance


According to him, linguistic is a theory of competence not performance. As Chomsky defined language and competence. Here when we say linguistic theory is primary about the language, the term language refers to the competence and it is focused on the ideal speaker-hearer as known as native-speaker in a completely homogenous speech community which means full of similar types of native-speakers who have got similar level of competence and they know know their language perfectly and unaffected by the sociocultural factors.

Ideal Hearer-Speaker

This description defines competence according to Chomsky and again his theory was a theory of competence and this kind of defines or describe a similar way of competence for a homogenous community which was later got criticised by Hymes and other functionalist applied linguistics and later on due to his ideological choices such as narrowing the perfect speaker to native levels and ignoring sociocultural factors and assuming all this happens in a homogenous community.

Communicative Competence

According to Funcitonal school linguistic theory performance is about competenc.

Whatever you perform linguistically you perform it with your competence and that’s way since this we don’t have any distinction between Competence and Performance because each of them depend on each other.

What you are able to say reflects both your competence and performance.


Systemic – Functional Grammar

M.A.K. Halliday

In order to understand systemic functional grammar we should define language according to this theory.

According to functionalism, a language is a social semiotic. Semiotic is actually a system of science. When we say it is a social semiotic, we mean language is a system of science to express the social meaning.

Systemic: Refers to the options that are available to us to make meaning in given contexts.

We have choices to make in 3 interrelated levels

  1. Level of behaviour: we make a choice to behave linguistically or non-linguistically. Because you can choose between two in such situations.
  2. Level of Semantics: What to say? What is the semantic meaning
  3. Level of Grammatical: We decide or choose how to say what to say.

These choices we make at this 3 interrelated levels do not occur consequently and most of they do not consciously. Because, when you encounter communicate situations, the words just come out very automatically most of the time but actually behind it we go through these levels.

!When we are learning a foreign language, on the other hand we operate these levels very consciously and make these decisions by ourselves!

Functional: These choices we make occur in a functional context.

As we grow up we acquire the language within the systematic and functional competence. That’s how we are able to communicate and we do have shared meaning which makes the communication possible.


Linguistic Form vs Communicative Function

Do your homework, please! – Imperative and Request

According to structure each form reflect a perticual function. Structural theories do not highlight function because form are integrated with functions anyway.

Functionalism says that there is no one to one correspondence between form and function and you can realise one communicative function by revising linguistics forms.

Context, different linguistic forms acquire different functions according to their use of in their context.

Functionalism is nota theory which excludes linguistic forms.

Formal (Structuralism + Transformative-Generative Grammar)

formal theories of language derived from …

They describe and analyse languages in terms of their formal strategies.

Halliday, Basic Functions

These seven basic functions are turned into meta-functions which are 3 in number. These seven basic functions are about child language acquisition and meta one is about adult languag use.

Under each meta functions, there are general communicative functions and there are specific communicative functions.

One of the three meta functions is interpersonal metafiction use of language, establish and maintain meanings. Under interpersonal meta-functions

  1. Instrumental Function: The kid’s using the language as in instrument of giving things. So kid says something to get something.
  2. Regulatory Function: The kids using the language to regulate or to control the behaviour of others.
  3. Interecational Function: Here language is used to create interaction with others. Such as a kid asking to be friends with someone to play with.
  4. Personal Function: Is about using the language to express identity and feelings at the personal level. Such as expressing likes and dislikes, saying his/her name.
  5. Heuristic Function: Heuristic means enabling someone to learn and discover. Is the use of language by kids to learn and discover. Such as kids asking what is it?
  6. Imaginitave Function: Using language to create a world of imagination. For example a kid playing with the toys he imagines and gives them names, makes 10/10 imdb movies inside his head.
  7. Representational Function: Using the language to communicate and convey facts and factual information.

We grow up

  1. Ideational meta-function : Is about the linguistic resources we have for constructing experiences. The relationship between human and the world, anything. When you talk about events, states, feelings, anything that is about your relationship between the world is ideational
  2. Interpersonal meta-Function: Social relationships. The point is to establish and maintain social relationships. This is the functions which we use to create any kind of relationship.
  3. Textual meta-Function: Can be seen as combination of the above. Because the first one is about relatiosbhip between the person and world and the second one is about the relationship between him and other persons and this textual function is combining them together. By text it is not only paper but it can be oral too such as Lectures.

Wilkins, is a british applied linguistic, how to map the language other than the traditional concepts of grammar and vocabulary to teach. For this purpose, he talks about functions and notions.

In document there was a huge list of General C.F. and Specific C.F.. Here we see socialisation for the general communicative functions, and ….

He also talked about notions, notions refer to semantical, grammatical categories. In this way when they are combined, Semantics and Grammar are combined together.

As a specific communicative function you can think about to express daily routines.

Temporal Notion:

  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • Time
    Spatial Notion:
  • location

What matters is the use of these functions and notions in the context. We don’T use grammar for the sake of grammar but we use it to express these notions and functions. So the grammar falls back to the second.

CLT can be divided into two

CLT Strong Version: We use the languae to use the language. There is no difference between using and learning, you learn the language by using it, without learning the language it is impossible to speak it.

Weak Ctl: Has a communicative perspective on language which means it has got a communicative perspective on what to teach. Aims to teach different communicative functions but it does not emphasise on how to learn it, here the end and the means may differ. Such approaches could be called CLT based approaches.
Strong CLT: Communicative perspective on learning. So this is more about how to teach. This means learning language through communicating and language is also communication, the end and the means are the same here.


It is not as presrciptive as a method but it used to be.

Prescriptive methods and their importance started to decrease after 2000s and later on CLT transformed into an Approach after this date.

Methadological Era

Conceptionalizon Communicative Competence Hymes communicative competence did have main components which are

  1. Possibility
  2. Feasibliltiy
  3. Acceptibality
  4. Appropriatenes

In the original conceptiulzation by

Canale and Swein: They stick to the conceptituzaliton by Hymes but they updated it to some extend. They stated that there are 4 components,

  1. Grammatical Competence: It refers to the knowledge of all linguistic units including syntax, semantics, lexicology, phonology, grammar. All the linguistic code features make up the grammatical competence.
  2. Socio-Linguistic Competence: We refer to knowledge of contextually appropriate language use. We should be able to making/using sentences in the right context and with the right accuracy. We acquire this competence at the same time with the grammatical competence. Especially significant, in order to make and receive and make sense of illocutionary sentences we use grammatical and socio-linguistic competence.
  3. Discourse Competence: Discourse is the largest meaningful object of the language. Any discourse is coherent and makes it is coherent and cohesion. Cohesion is achieved in the context, it is unity of the text such as when a person utters a illocutionary sentence and the other one gets the message that means that there is cohesion.Coherence is mainly about relationship among the utterances such as how they are bind together. Coherence and cohesion are the main elements of what makes a discourse a discourse. They help us to understand utterances in a discourse by connecting them together. Discourse competence refers to knowledge of achieving coherence and cohesion.
  4. Strategic Competence: More about communication stragetigs that we use to keep the conversation nor communication more effective to avoid misıunderstaning or six the misundetstahings or two avoid comuıncation breakdown or fix it. It is not about second language bu it is about language in general. If you for example just paraphrase your main points to make the conversation possibility go on, than this is a communication strategy. These are more about repairing or making the communication go on. Without this competence the communication will be blocked, won’t go smoothly or experience breakdowns. For example when you say something but the receiver doesn’t understand you try to convey the same message in a different way and this is a communicative strategy, too. Circumlocution* is defining a word in a different way to express it.

Canale and Swein takes feasibility as something as universal, excluding it from communicative competence and saying that we acquire it naturally, it is given.

We expect to main things in the classroom,

  • We as teachers need to do activities or teaching practices which aim to increase four of all these compteneecties but some of the activities my focus on various activities at the same time but when there’s an increase in one of the competences we expect to see increase in other ones too. If only one competency is invested all the time and the others are ignored , awe can’t say the same thing of course.

If we compare this with Hymes’, there similarities and differences

  1. GC is similar to Possibility
  2. SLC is similar to Appropriateness
  3. DC isn’t similar to Feasiblility
  4. DC is a part of Appropriateness and Acceptibaliyty


CLT expects teachers to make meaningful activities and situations.


Celee-Murcia (1995)

  1. Linguistic Competence:
  2. Sociocultural Competence: The cultural background knowledge needed to interpret and use a language effectively.
  3. Actional Competence:
  4. Discourse Competence: –
  5. Strategic Competence: –

2 + 3 = Sociolinguistic Competence

Common European Framework for Languages

  1. Linguistic Competence:
  2. Sociolinguistic Competence:
  3. Pragmatic Competence: Combines discourse competence and strategic competence.

Celce-Murcia (2008)

  1. L
  2. S
  3. D
  4. S
  5. Formulaic Competence: Knowledge of those faces and orefactivated chucks of language that speakers use heavily in everyday interactions, such as routines, collocations, idioms, and lexical frames. Referring to the knowledge of those frequently used chucks or utterances without necessarily grammatical elements which enables you to survive in basic manners.
  6. Interactional Competence
    1. Actional Competence:
    2. Conversational Competence:
    3. Non-verbal/paralinguistic competence:

Theory of Communication

Ethnography of Speaking / Communication (D. Hymes 1962)

One of the first people to call for ethnography of speaking which is Ethnography of Communication which is a kind of subdicispline derived from anthropology and linguistics.

Eth is a kind of research method and it particularly comes from the field of anthropology, that is why it is one of its sub-disciplines and communication refers to the linguistics. The term ethnography refers to the systematic study we particularly mean a research method, systematic study of cultures and people.

When we say ethnography of communication is a kind of subdisicipline which is considered within the systematic study of the construction and negotiation of social meanings.

Ethnographers study the communicative situation, not the individuals or communities. They observe the communicative situations and observe their acts in a long period of time as if they become a member of that speech community. They usually spend a very long time in order to be sure and not make false assumptions.

Hymes proposed 6 units of communication,

  1. Speech Community: In order to call a group, community they have to share something common which are binding them together. In order to call them a speech community, there must be a shared language, and we use this term n a more comprehensive way, not necessarily referring to the linguistic code or national language. We can give examples of lectures as a speech community. Also, we need some shared rules of speech such as rules in a class, in an office meeting. We know these rules by some speech cultures such as school culture. When we say shared rules of communication, we speak rules of appropriacy in a contextual situation. As adults we know the appropriate rules of communication and use them in certain contexts and not use them in other ones. Even Twitter is a speech community and these communities are not fixed, they are dynamic and continuously changing.
  2. Communicative Situation: As the particular context in which communication takes place by the members of this speech community. When those members start communication in particular context, it is called the communicative situation. Speakers of particular speech communicaties have to how to take part in particular communicative situation. People may be members of the different speech communities at the same time. Is the particular context in which communication occurs. Such examples are, A court, a vaaz in a mosque, church services etc. Communicative situations have a specific patterns and parts such as opening sequence, middle sequence and end sequence.
  3. Communicative Event: Most of the time ELF lessons start with opening routines such as greeting, warming-up and then usually it is followed by a teacher directed lesson like teacher taking the floor and addressing the whole class together and this part is usually followed by an activity; individual work, pair work or group work, these are 3 types of activities and the last part is the closing routine such saying goodbye and giving homework. Each of these are a communicative events.
  4. Communicative Act: In every communicative event, every single utternarnces relailzes every communicative function is a communicative act. Here the important thing is, that uttenracnce realises one single communicative function. Such as when we say “Hello, how are you” in a class environment this is a communicative event but the sentences are are communicative act and the important thing here is functions of these sentences. Another example from daily life “May I have a coffee” is a communicative act and its function is requesting a coffee.
  5. Communicative Style: Refers to the way speakers speak such as do you speak politely etc.
  6. Ways of Speaking / Patterning: refers to the patterns of speaking in particularly communicative event.

For Hymes, In order to communicatively be competent in a speech community we have to know all the units above. Unlike Chomsky’s competence which is about knowledge, Hymes theory is more interested in ability to use the language, performance. Different linguistic utterances gain different meanings in contexts and when we say contexts we mean we refer to communicative events and situation, for this purpose, Hymes talks about context of communication defining communicative event,

Setting & Scene: We refer to the time, space and environment of the communication.
Participant: Who is involved in communication.
Ends: Here refers to purpose of communication together with the outcome of the communication.
Act Sequence: Refers to the communicative act. Sequences of act makes up the communicative act.
Key: Refers to the overall tone, manner of the communication. It’s like is it a serious tone, is it a mocking tone, what sort of tone.
Instrumentalities: We refer to forms of communication such as e-mailing, phone calling, casual speaking
Norms: Defines what is socially acceptable.
Genre: Type of speech or type of text. Is it narration, is it a everyday casual conversation, so what Is the genre.

In order to take part in a communicative event in a communicatively competent way, we consider all the factors above.

If you need to design any kind of lesson, activity, task when you consider a context you need to consider all the units above.

Speech Act Theory

  1. Locutionary: The literal meaning of an utterance.
  2. Illocutionary: When a word gains its meaning in a context, it is this.
  3. Perlocutionary: Result or the effect of the utterance

Example of Locutionary with “Sorry about that”

S: In a school in a hallway.
Participants: 2 book reading students
Ends: Apoligyziing for colliding to each other.
Key: In a worried tone.
Instrumentalieites: Formal speaking
Norms: casual school norms
Genre: dialogue

Example of IlLocutionary with “Sorry about that”

S: In a dark hallway
Participants: 2 people, one of them is a mafia boss and the other is a debt owner.
Ends: threatening
Key: mocking and sarcastic tone
Instrumentalities: Informal speaking
Norms: no norms
Genre: dialogue