Meanings of Communicative Competence in Different Learning Contexts

  • Received : 2010.10.14
  • Published : 2010.12.30


This study surveyed L2 learners' needs for different components of communicative competence. It aimed to determine what abilities the learners strongly need to achieve communicative competence in different learning contexts. It also examined gender differences in the learners' need for phonological competence. A total of 359 students participated in this study, divided into three learner groups: high school, vocational college, and university students. The data were collected via a questionnaire, which was based on Bachman's (1990) framework of language competence. The study drew some important findings: (a) The vocational trainees expressed a stronger need for illocutionary competence than the high school students and for sociolinguistic competence than the high school and the university groups; (b) The high school and the university groups equated grammatical, textual, illocutionary, and strategic competences in their needs with lesser attention to sociolinguistic competence; (c) To the high school and the university groups, pragmatic competence was assessed higher than organizational competence; (d) Female students showed greater sensitivity to pronunciation ability than did male students. On the basis of these results, pedagogical implications are discussed, along with some helpful suggestions.