Redefining Communicative Competence for International and Local Communities

| December 28, 2007
Redefining Communicative Competence for International and Local Communities

Keywords: English as an International Language (EIL), global definition of competence

Dr. Roger Nunn
Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Bio Data
Roger Nunn has worked in EFL for over 30 years in seven different countries, including more than 22 years in Asia. He is currently working at the Petroleum Institute, a new University in Abu Dhabi, where he teaches communications and research skills. He is also Senior Associate Editor of the Asian EFL Journal. He has a Trinity College TEFL diploma, an MA and Ph.D. in TEFL from the University of Reading, UK. His Ph.D. study was on teaching methodology and curriculum development across cultural boundaries in a Middle East setting. He has published widely on a variety of topics and is particularly interested in international and intercultural perspectives on language teaching.

This paper is a follow-up paper to Nunn (2005). In combination, these two papers consider the meaning of competence when English is used as an International Language (EIL). This second paper focuses on definitions and concludes with a global definition of competence. Competence is partially defined in relation to the communities in which individual members apply it. In this paper, the meaning of community is considerably developed from the discussion of speech community in the first paper, to include discourse , bi-lingual , local and international characterizations. Competence is then contrasted with other related concepts, such as proficiency . Discussion of the holistic, interlocking nature of five different types of competence is developed from the first paper and five characteristics of International Communicative Competence (ICC) are outlined.

International/global aspects of competence are always applied in specific, local contexts. The middle section of this paper considers just two local educational contexts in Asia. The discussion is supported by a few data samples from projects reported elsewhere, including a full report of a sponsored project conducted at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, a university that aims to produce engineers from the local community who are able to perform to international standards and to communicate in English within a multi-national organization (full report available electronically on request). Members of local institutions that aspire to educational excellence in an international field need to learn to interact with various kinds of communities in order to achieve an appropriate balance between international and local conceptions of competence. As a comparison, a very different academic community will be described in a Japanese university where a general English course teaches skills for international communication to all first-year students regardless of academic discipline.


See pages 77-110

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 9 Issue 4