Linguistic competence, also known as language performance, refers to a person's subconscious knowledge of the rules governing speech in their first language. The term is also used in TEFL referring to students' competence in the target language.
According to Canale and Swain (1980), there are four underlying components of language that define linguistic competence:
- strategic competence – the aspect which all experts agree on as being the most important. According to Brown (1994), it is the way in which students "manipulate" the language in order to achieve their aims, and Berns (1990) describes it as the ability to compensate for imperfect knowledge of the grammatical and sociological rules, etc.;
- grammatical competence – refers to comprehension of morphology and syntax, the use of vocabulary and its mechanics, including aspects such as pronunciation and intonation;
- competence in speech – means the ability to apply the formal aspects of a language coherently in order to keep the communication comprehensible;
- sociolinguistic competence – is also an important part of language learning, because formal knowledge of a language does not prepare the student for using it effectively and fluently – it is also necessary to know what the likely outcome will be in social and cultural terms.
- The New Oxford Dictionary of English 1998 ISBN 0-19-861263-X
- Brown, G.; Malmkjaer, K.; Williams, J. Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge University Press (1996) at Google Books
- Canale, M. and Swain, M. (1980). "Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing" Applied Linguistics 1, 1-47. In Jing, N. "Approaches to Teaching English as a Second Language" Online resource