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Competence and Performance

  1. 1. Competence and Performance<br />By:<br />Sahil Gupta<br />Parteek Singla<br />
  2. 2. History<br />Ferdinand de Saussure: ASwiss linguist whose ideas on structure in language laid the foundation of the 20th century linguistics. He used the terminology: “la langue” and “parole”.<br />Noam Chomsky:An American linguist, first introduced the concept of “performance” and “competence” as part of the foundations for his Generative grammar.<br />
  3. 3. de Saussure’s Theory<br />La Langue<br />It has a large number of elements whereby meaning is created by the arrangements between the elements and their consequent relationships.<br />While learning a language, we master the system of grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation (elements of langue).<br />Langue precedes and makes speech possible.<br /> Parole<br />Parole is the actual utterances. It is an external manifestation of langue. It is the usage of the system, but not the system.<br />
  4. 4. His theory differentiates between the language and how it is used, and therefore enables these two very different things to be studied as separate entities.<br />Saussure was interested more in la langue than parole. It was the system by which meaning could be created that was of interest to him rather than individual instances of its use.<br />
  5. 5. Chomsky’s Theory<br />Chomsky also distinguished the underlying knowledge of language from the way language is actually used in practice.<br />According to him, Language performance may be affected by such things as attention, stamina, memory, etc. <br />Therefore, a theory of language should be a theory of competence. Once a full theory of competence is developed, it can be integrated into a theory of performance, which will also consider other cognitive abilities.<br />
  6. 6. Competence<br />Competence is a person’s underlying (subconscious) linguistic ability to create and understand sentences, including sentences they have never heard before.<br />It’s a person's acquaintance with a set of grammatical rules and is different from the actual linguistic activities.<br />Linguistic competence includes components such as phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics and morphology.<br />
  7. 7. Competence enables native speaker to recognize ambiguous sentences or accept even apparently meaningless sentences as syntactically correct (and even making some sense). <br />Even if you’ve never heard these before, you know which one is “English” and which one isn’t.<br />Example:<br /> Eight very lazy elephants drank brandy.<br /> *Eight elephants very lazy brandy drank.<br />
  8. 8. Performance<br />Performance is the real world linguistic output. <br />May accurately reflect competence, but it also may include speech errors.<br />Performance may be flawed because of memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random or characteristic) or other psychological factors. <br />Represents only a small sample of possible utterances.<br />
  9. 9. Performance error<br />The performance of a speaker may not be fault free, even though his competence is perfect.<br /> Example :<br />Learning and riding a bike.<br />
  10. 10.
  11. 11. Why is it important to make a distinction between competence and performance?<br />It allows those studying a language to differentiate between a speech error and not knowing something about the language. To understand this distinction, it is helpful to think about a time when you've made some sort of error in your speech. <br />
  12. 12. For example, let's say you are a native speaker of English and utter the following:<br />“We swimmed in the ocean this weekend.”<br />Is this errordue to competence or performance?<br />It isn't that you don't know that the past tense of swim is swam, you've just mistakenly applied the regular rule to an irregular verb.<br />  Distinction between competence and performance illustrates the difference between accidentally saying “swimmed” and the fact that a child or non-proficient speaker of English may not know that the past tense of swim is “swam” and say “swimmed” consistently.<br />Your competence is fine, it is your performance that has let you down.<br />
  13. 13. Competence versus performance<br />Competence, being an ideal, is located as a psychological or mental property. This is in contrast to performance, which refers to an actual event.<br />Chomsky argues that only under an idealized situation whereby the speaker-hearer is unaffected by grammatically irrelevant conditions such as memory limitations and distractions will performance be a direct reflection of competence. <br />
  14. 14. Distinction between the theories<br />Whereas the terms ‘performance’ (Chomsky) and ‘parole’ (de Saussure) can be used almost interchangeably, their counterparts ‘competence’ and ‘langue’ are quite different from each other.<br />‘Langue’ is a static system of signs, whereas ‘competence’is understood as a dynamic concept, as a mechanism that will generate language endlessly.<br />Chomsky’s theory is more psychological.<br />
  15. 15. How do competence and performance apply to the language classroom?<br />  The assumption used in many language instruction programs is that once the learners have ‘learned’ the information they will be able to use it through reading, writing, listening and speaking.  <br />The disadvantageof this approach is that having been trained to learn the language through “knowing”(competence), learners have difficulty actually “doing”(performance) something with the language.<br />
  16. 16. Criticisms<br />Linguistic theories based on the notion of competence have been criticized for being too idealistic.<br />However, Chomsky dismissed criticisms of delimiting the study of performance in favor of the study of underlying competence, as unwarranted and completely misdirected.<br />This led to a broadening of the original concept to communicative competence, introduced by Hymes (1974). This is now generally defined as “the socially appropriate use of language”.<br />
  17. 17. Thank You!<br />Questions?<br />
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