Linguistic competence, Communicative Competence and Interactional Competence

  • Nishad Chathamkulam Abdulrahman Al Wasl University, Dubai, UAE
  • Emad A. S. Abu- Ayyash The British University in Dubai, Dubai, UAE
Keywords: Linguistic competence, Communicative Competence, Interactional Competence, Competence-Related Literature, Gaps in Competence-Related Literature, Classroom Practice


Linguistic competence, communicative competence, and interactional competence have had a profound impact on second language teaching, learning, and testing. Although a substantial number of studies have been conducted on these three competencies, they have not been conflated for discussion in a single study. Adding this piece to the jigsaw, the current paper explores these three competencies in depth. This paper had a twin purpose of 1) providing a historical account of the linguistic, communicative and interactional competences, and 2) reviewing of the literature on them in order to identify gaps, if any, with the intention to propose new research ideas pertaining to the three types of competences. In order to achieve the study aims, an intensive literature survey was conducted. Based on the review of the related research on linguistic, communicative and interactional competencies, this article offers recommendations for effective classroom practice and future research.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Nishad Chathamkulam Abdulrahman, Al Wasl University, Dubai, UAE

Al Wasl University, Dubai, UAE

Emad A. S. Abu- Ayyash , The British University in Dubai, Dubai, UAE

The British University in Dubai, Dubai, UAE


Agbatogun, A. O. (2014). Developing learners' second language communicative competence through active learning: clickers or communicative approach? Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(2), 251-269.

Akbari, Z. (2014). The role of grammar in second language reading comprehension: Iranian ESP context. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 122-126.

Al Alami, S. E. (2014). Promoting Communicative Competence within EFL Contexts: A UAE Case Study. Journal of Language Teaching & Research, 5(6),1245-1255.

Alshwiah, A. (2015). Assessing and Scoring Foreign Language Learners’ Communicative Competence. Proceedings of SOCIOINT15-2nd International Conference on Education, Social Sciences and Humanities, 126-135.

Ampatuan, R. A. & San Jose, A. E. (2016). Role Play As An Approach In Developing Students Communicative Competence. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 4(1),18-24.

Andrews, R. Torgerson, C. Beverton, S. Freeman, A. Locke, T. Low, G. & Zhu, D. (2006). The effect of grammar teaching on writing development. British Educational Research Journal, 32(1), 39-55.

Araki, K. (2015). Does Teaching Grammar Really Hinder Students’ Speaking Abilities? US-China Education Review, 5(6), 400-408.

Bachman, L. F. & Palmer, A. S. (1996). Language testing in practice: Designing and developing useful language tests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bagaric, V. & Djigunovic, J. M. (2007). Defining communicative competence. Metodika, 8(1), 94-103.

Bang, Y. J. (2003). Developing communicative competence through drama-oriented activities in an EFL classroom. Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 8, 19-34.

Barman, B. (2014). The Linguistic Philosophy of Noam Chomsky. Philosophy and Progress, 51(1-2), 103-122.

Barraja-Rohan, A. M. (2011). Using conversation analysis in the second language classroom to teach interactional competence. Language Teaching Research, 15(4), 479-507.

Batang, B. L. (2014). Communicative Competence and Language Learning Styles of Prospective Teachers of English. Researchers World, 5(4), 182-187.

Buitrago Campo, A. C. (2016). Improving 10th Graders' English Communicative Competence Through the Implementation of the Task-Based Learning Approach. Profile Issues in Teachers Professional Development, 18(2), 95-110.

Butler, Y. G. & Zeng, W. (2015). Young learners’ interactional development in task-based paired-assessment in their first and foreign languages: a case of English learners in China. Education 3-13, 43(3), 292-321.

Can Daskın, N. (2015). Shaping learner contributions in an EFL classroom: Implications for L2 classroom interactional competence. Classroom Discourse, 6(1), 33-56.

Canale, M. & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied linguistics, 1(1), 1-47.

Catoto, J.S. & San Jose, A. E. (2016). Reporting as a Strategy in Facilitating the Communicative Competence of English learners. Social Science Review, pp. 22-33.

Chesebro, J. W., McCroskey, J. C., Atwater, D. F., Bahrenfuss, R. M., Cawelti, G., Gaudino, J. L., & Hodges, H. (1992). Communication apprehension and self‐perceived communication competence of at‐risk students. Communication Education, 41(4), 345-360.

Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Chomsky, N. (2006). Language and mind. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Effendi, M.S., Rokhyati, U., Rachman, U.A., Rakhmawati, A.D. & Pertiwi, D. (2017). A Study on Grammar Teaching at an English Education Department in an EFL Context. International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature (IJSELL), 5 (1), 42-46.

Farrell, T. S. & Lim, P. C. P. (2005). Conceptions of Grammar Teaching: A Case Study of Teachers' Beliefs and Classroom Practices. TESL-EJ, 9(2), 1-13.

Fauziati, E. (2015). A State of the Art of Communicative Competence Theory. Ahmad Dahlan Journal of English Studies, 2(2), 78-86.

Furko, B. P. & Monos, K. (2013). The teachability of communicative competence and the acquisition of pragmatic markers–a case study of some widely-used Business English coursebooks. Argumentum, 9, 132-148.

Furko, P. (2016). ‘A focus on pragmatic competence: The use of pragmatic markers in a corpus of business English textbooks’, in N, Dobrical et al. (Eds), Corpora in Applied Linguistics: Current Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 33-52.

Gascoigne, C. (2005). Toward an understanding of the relationship between L2 reading comprehension and grammatical competence. The Reading Matrix, 5(2), 1-14.

Gómez Palacio, C. (2010). Strategies to help ESL students improve their communicative competence and class participation: a study in a middle school. How, 17(1), 73-89.

Hall, J. K. (1999). ‘A prosaics of interaction: The development of interactional competence in another language’, in E. Hinkel (Ed.), Culture in second language teaching and learning. New York: Cambridge University Press,137-151.

Hedge, T. (2000). Teaching and learning in the language classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Heidari, F. & Alavi, S. A. (2015). Knowledge of Grammar, Oral Communication Strategies, and oral Fluency: A Study of Iranian EFL Learners. Iranian Journal of Applied Language Studies, 7(1), 83-104.

Huang, C. P. (2010). Exploring factors affecting the use of oral communication strategies. Long Hua Technology University Journal,30, 85-104.

Huang, Y. H. (2011) Does EFL Students' Grammatical Ability Account for Writing Ability? A Case Study. Chia Nan Annual Bulletin, 37, 500-515.

Hymes, D.H. (1972). ‘On Communicative Competence’, in: J.B. Pride and J. Holms (eds) Sociolinguistics. Selected Readings. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 269-293.

Jones, S. Myhill, D. & Bailey, T. (2013). Grammar for writing? An investigation of the effects of contextualised grammar teaching on students’ writing. Reading and Writing, 26(8), 1241-1263.

Jordan, G. (2004). Theory construction in second language acquisition. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Kamiya, M. (2006). The role of communicative competence in L2 learning. Sophia Junior College Faculty Bulletin, 26, 63-87.

Karimkhani, F. (2016). The relationship between EFL learners’ writing performance with their grammar knowledge, writing strategy use and self-esteem. Advances in Asian Social Sciences (AASS), 7(2), 1189-1196.

Kecskes, I., Sanders, R. E., & Pomerantz, A. (2017). The basic interactional competence of language learners. Journal of Pragmatics,1-19.

Kramsch, C. (1986). From language proficiency to interactional competence. The modern language journal, 70(4), 366-372.

Liao, Y. F. (2007). Investigating the construct validity of the grammar and vocabulary section and the listening section of the ECCE: Lexico-grammatical ability as a predictor of L2 listening ability. Spaan fellow, 1001, 37, 37-116.

López, A. L. (2008). To what extent does grammar knowledge account for competence in FL reading comprehension in university students. RESLA, 21,181-200.

May, L. (2011). Interactional competence in a paired speaking test: Features salient to raters. Language Assessment Quarterly, 8(2),127-145.

Mokhtari, K. & Thompson, H. B. (2006). How problems of reading fluency and comprehension are related to difficulties in syntactic awareness skills among fifth graders. Literacy Research and Instruction, 46(1), 73-94.

Murthy, K. V. N. K. Krishna, G. L. & Dasaradhi, K. (2017). Syntactic Awareness and Reading Ability. AGU International Journal of Research in Social Sciences & Humanities, 5, 533-539.

Myhill, D. A., Jones, S. M., Lines, H. & Watson, A. (2012). Re-thinking grammar: the impact of embedded grammar teaching on students' writing and students' metalinguistic understanding. Research Papers in Education, 27 (2),139-166.

Nguyen, C., & Le, D. (2012). Communicative Language Testing: Do School Tests Measure Students’ Communicative Competence? RELC Journal, 42(1), 856-864.

North, B. (2014). The CEFR in Practice, English Profile Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Oh, E. (2016). Comparative studies on the roles of linguistic knowledge and sentence processing speed in L2 listening and reading comprehension in an EFL tertiary setting. Reading Psychology,37(2), 257-285.

Ohno, A. (2006). Communicative competence and communicative language teaching. Paper. Internal publication of the Bunkyo Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan, 25-31.

Oliver, R. Haig, Y. & Rochecouste, J. (2005). Communicative competence in oral language assessment. Language and education, 19(3), 212-222.

Park, J. (2017). Multimodality as an Interactional Resource for Classroom Interactional Competence (CIC). Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(2), 121-138.

Pazaver, A., & Wang, H. (2009). Asian students’ perceptions of grammar teaching in the ESL classroom. The International Journal of Language Society and Culture, 27, 27-35.

Phipps, S. & Borg, S. (2009). Exploring tensions between teachers’ grammar teaching beliefs and practices. System, 37(3), 380-390.

Pillar, G. W. (2011). A framework for testing communicative competence. The Round Table: Partium Journal of English Studies, 2(1), 24-37.

Pinnow, R. J., & Chval, K. B. (2015). “How much You wanna bet?”: Examining the role of positioning in the development of L2 learner interactional competencies in the content classroom. Linguistics and Education, 30, 1-11.

Priyanto, A. (2013). The Correlation Between English Grammar Competence and Speaking Fluency of Eleventh Grade Students in SMAN 1 Sidoarjo. RETAIN, 1(1), 1-6.

Rajabi, P. & Dezhkam, E. (2014). The effect of explicit grammar instruction on improving writing accuracy of Iranian EFL learners. Journal of ELT and Applied Linguistics (JELTAL), 2(1), 61-76.

Saaristo, P. (2015). Grammar is the heart of language: Grammar and its role in language learning among Finnish University students. Voices of pedagogical development-expanding, enhancing and exploring higher education language learning, 279-318.

Sadeghi, K., Azad Mousavi, M., & Javidi, S. (2017). Relationship Between EFL Learners’ Self-Perceived Communication Competence and Their Task-Based and Task-Free Self-Assessment of Speaking. Research in Applied Linguistics, 8(2), 31-50.

Safranj, J. (2009). Students' communicative competence. Zbornik Instituta za pedagoska istrazivanja, 41(1), 180-194.

Saleh, S. E. (2013). Understanding communicative competence. University Bulletin, 3(5).

Savignon, S. J. (2002). ‘Communicative language teaching: Linguistic theory and classroom practice’, in S. J. Savignon (Ed.). Interpreting communicative language teaching. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. 1-27.

Saville-Troike, M. (2003). The Ethnography of Communication: An Introduction. 3rd ed. Oxford: Black well Publishing Ltd.

Sert, O. (2009). Developing Interactional Competence by Using TV Series in “English as an Additional Language” Classrooms. Enletawa Journal. 2, 23-50.

Sert, O. & Walsh, S. (2013). The interactional management of claims of insufficient knowledge in English language classrooms. Language and Education, 27(6), 542-565.

Sun, D. (2014). From Communicative Competence to Interactional Competence: A New Outlook to the Teaching of Spoken English. Journal of Language Teaching & Research, 5(5).

Taha, W.A. & Reishaan, A. K. (2008). The Relationship between Competence and Performance: Towards a Comprehensive TG Grammar. Adab al-kufa journal, 1(2), 35-59. ‎

Tecedor, M. (2016). Beginning Learners' Development of Interactional Competence: Alignment Activity. Foreign Language Annals, 49(1), 23-41.

Theobald, M. (2012). Video-stimulated accounts: Young children accounting for interactional matters in front of peers. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 10(1), 32-50.

Thornbury, S. (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan Education.

Tienson, J. (1983). Linguistic Competence. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, XI, 99-194.

Tracy, K. & Robles, J.S. (2013). Everyday talk: Building and reflecting identities.2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press.

Tuan, V. V. (2017). Communicative Competence of the Fourth Year Students: Basis for Proposed English Language Program. English Language Teaching, 10(7), 104-122.

Van Compernolle, R. A. (2014). Sociocultural theory and L2 instructional pragmatics. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Wahyuni, D. Ihsan, D. & Hayati, R. (2015). Linguistic Competence and Speaking Performance of English Education Study Program Students of Sriwijaya University. Journal of English Literacy Education, 1(2), 83-92.

Walsh, S. (2003). Developing interactional awareness in the second language classroom through teacher self-evaluation. Language awareness, 12(2), 124-142.

Walsh, S. (2012). Conceptualising Classroom Interactional Competence. Novitas-Royal (Research on youth and language), 6(1), 1-14.

Waring, H. Z. (2013). ‘How was your weekend?’: developing the interactional competence in managing routine inquiries. Language Awareness, 22(1), 1-16.

Xiao, L. (2016). Investigating Transferability of Interactional Competence: a case study of EFL students at a Chinese university. Proceedings of classic, 389-409.

Xue, M. (2013). Effects of group work on English communicative competence of Chinese international graduates in United States institutions of higher education. The qualitative report, 18(7), 1-19.

Yagi, K. (2007). The development of interactional competence in a situated practice by Japanese learners of English as a second language. Hawaii Pacific University TESL Working Papers Series, 5(1), 19-38.

Yano, Y. (2003). Communicative competence and English as an international language. Intercultural Communication Studies, 12(3), 75-83.

Yoon, S. Hoshi, K. & Zhao, H. (2004). The Evolution of Asian ESL Students’ Perceptions of Grammar: Case Studies of 9 Learners. Carleton Papers in Applied Language Studies, 117-152.

Young, R. F. (2008). Language and interaction. London and New York: Routledge.

Young, R. F. (2011). ‘Interactional competence in language learning, teaching, and testing’, in E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning. London & New York: Routledge, 426-443.

Young, R. F. (2013) Learning to talk the talk and walk the walk: interactional competence in academic spoken English. Ibérica, 25, 15–38.

How to Cite
Abdulrahman, N. C., & Ayyash , E. A. S. A.-. (2019). Linguistic competence, Communicative Competence and Interactional Competence. JOURNAL OF ADVANCES IN LINGUISTICS, 10, 1600-1616.