Grammatical Competence (Michael Canale & Merrill Swain)
Explanation of Main Features
Grammatical Competence is one of the four communicative competences (grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence). It refers to knowledge of syntax, meaning, vocabulary, and machanics (stern, 1983, p349; Gascoigne, 2005, p1). This type of competence is important because it provide skills and knowledge so that students can learn to be understood in speaking and writing, and grammatical competence become more important as the proficiency increases (Díaz-Rico & Weed, 2010, p58)
Chomsky thinks that all human have innate capacity to acquire languages. Some level grammar is required when learning vocabulary, word formation and meaning sentence formation because it focuses on the skills and knowledge necessary to be accurately. Cannale and Swain thinks that grammatical competence is similar to the mastery of forms and meanings, while the proficiency can be interpreted as communicative competence into grammatical competence. (Stern, 1983, p349)

Díaz-Rico, L. T. & Weed, K. Z. (2010). The Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic
Development Handbook, Fourth Edition.Boston, MA: Pearson p58
Stern,H.H.(1983). Fundamantal Concepts of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University
Press. P349

Classroom Implications

According to Canale and Sawin (1980), second language classroom materials are set up in such a way as to promote the learning of grammatical competence in second language learners. They go on to suggest that there is a definite distinction between grammatical competence and grammatical performance. Classroom teachers must be aware that just because a child is aware of a grammatical rule, that does not mean that the child will use that rule in his or her daily writing or conversation. In addition, teachers must also be aware of those students who are using correct grammar in their daily oral language performance, but do not have the competence of the rule. For example, a student may learn a phrase and use it flawlessly on a daily basis, but at the same time not understand the grammatical rules, and go on to use the same grammar in inappropriate ways.

Teachers must not assume that just because a student can use a grammatical rule correctly in one context that he/she can use it correctly in all contexts. Diaz-Rico and Weed (2010), suggest that teachers of lower-proficiency-level ELLs may focus on fluency and vocabulary while neglecting the direct teaching of grammatical rules. As teachers, we must not overlook the importance of incorporating grammar lessons in every level of ELLs’ education.
Canale, M. and Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical Bases of Communicative Approaches to Second Language Teaching and Testing. Retrieved May 9, 2011
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Diaz-Rico, L.T. & Weed, K.Z. (2010). The Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic
Development Handbook, Fourth Edition.