Peculiarities of formation of communicative-oriented grammatical competence in students of higher education

This paper deals with the issue of communicative-oriented grammatical competence I students of higher education in Kazakhstan an. The author tries to analyse the effective ways to build the communicative- oriented grammatical skills and abilities suggested by different scientists and methodologists to be chosen as appropriate and adaptive to the local environment. Then, the communicative approach or communicative language teaching are considered to be the main effective tools to foster student`s development of knowledge and skill. Moreover, a set of didactic and methodological techniques and tools used in the educational process aimed at achieving the difficult task of formation of communicative grammar skills are presented too. Further, the most relevant techniques used for the development of communicative competence of the grammar and listening for instance, the followings like the story, the elements of drama, informational imbalance, games with problem-oriented tasks are highlighted as the most effective ones. Finally, the paper suggests the practical ways and methods to be used in English classes to develop the mentioned skills and abilities.


According to M. Celce-Murcia and Sh. Hilles [1] the algorithm of formation communicative grammar skills and abilities consists of four stages of practical work at the English language lesson: presentation, formulation rules (language practice), an introduction to the context (communicative practice), control (feedback).

The communicative approach (CA) or communicative language teaching (CLT) is the name which was given to a set of beliefs which included not only a re-examination of what aspects of language to teach, but also a shift in emphasis in how to teach. The «what to teach» aspect of the communicative approach stressed the significance of language functions rather than focusing solely on grammar and vocabulary. A guiding principle was to train students to use these language forms appropriately in a variety of contexts and for a variety of purposes. The «how to teach» aspect of the communicative approach is closely related to the idea that language learning will take care of itself, and that plentiful exposure to language in use and plenty of opportunities to use it are vitally important for a student`s development of knowledge and skill. Activities in CLT typically involve students in real or realistic communication, where the accuracy of the language they use is less important than successful achievement of the communicative task they are performing. Thus roleplay and simulation have become very popular in CLT, where students simulate a television programme or a scene at an airport-or they might put together the simulated front page of a newspaper. Sometimes they have to solve a puzzle and can only do so by sharing information. Sometimes they have to write a poem or construct a story together.

The focus of these activities is to convince students to communicate with each other. They should have a purpose for communicating focused on the content of what they are saying or writing rather than on a particular language form. They try to use a variety of language rather than just one language structure. The teacher will not intervene to stop the activity; and the materials he or she relies on will not dictate what specific language forms the students use either. In other words such activities should attempt to replicate real communication. They are at opposite ends of a communication continuum.

Not all activities occur at either extreme of the continuum, however. Some may be further towards the communicative end, whereas some may be more non-communicative. An activity in which students have to go round the class asking questions with a communicative purpose, but with some language restriction, may be nearer the right-hand end of the continuum, whereas a game which forces the use of only one structure, will come near the non-communicative end [2; 70–72].

The main part

In this paper, we present a set of didactic and methodological techniques and tools used in the educational process aimed at achieving the difficult task of formation of communicative grammar skills. So, it is used different methods and means at different stages of formation of grammatical skills, moreover, the choice of methods and means depends on the level of language proficiency. Among the most relevant techniques used for the development of communicative competence of the grammar, it is possible to highlight listening, and among the teaching tools name the following: the story, the elements of drama, informational imbalance, games with problem-oriented tasks.

We pay special attention to the role and place of listening when teaching grammar. Listening is a way, which is used during the presentation of grammatical structures. Many methodologists believe that adults learning foreign languages as children, should be able to have a pre-silent period. They believe that if adults do not make utter and repeat phrases on a new language immediately, they better learn to speak. But not all students are ready and able to comply with this period of silent perception. Cultural need or practical necessity may force them to interact on a verbal level. Therefore, it is advisable to find a compromise, in other words, take work on listening and understanding what he heard ration of the lesson instead of the standard «listening and repetition» [1; 150–152].

An effective way is considered a teacher communication with students only in the target language. The experience of teaching foreign language shows that using only the target language for a long time working with students is the most promising policy. One possible explanation for the phenomenon of grammatical or lexical unit in a foreign language will take much longer and will have to make several attempts, but each attempt is a practice of listening foreign language used for communication purposes [3; 80–82].

Tasks based on listening perfect for a variety of purposes. First of all, they help students, even beginners, to relate the meaning and form of the context. This connection allows you to hear and respond to the student physically or verbally. The teacher uses pictures or any objects, for example presentation way of Asher, based on the actions of commenting on the words [4; 24, 25].

Effective technique borrowed from the natural approach S. Krashen and T.D. Terrell, when students respond to teacher questions with just one word. Secondly, such tasks are consistent with the principle of delayed speech. Students after silent perception speak more fluently and with better pronunciation than those from whom was required to speak immediately. And, thirdly, even if the students need not take the time to allow «silent» period of teaching, the integration of the practice of listening to the educational process can significantly improve your language skills, including grammar [5; 20].

As tasks based on listening, can be simple or complex, they can be used with students of different levels of formedness grammatical skills. For a higher level they may be part of the presentation, after which it is possible to formulate a rule (using inductive reasoning). For beginning students, who do not have sufficient knowledge of the language, these tasks can be used during the presentation and on a practical stage.

Using stories in modern methods of teaching foreign language contributes to the development of skills of successful communication and expressive speech. Stories are used for entertainment, and also for illustration the grammatical structures in the classroom.

The first involves inductive reasoning, while the second - deductive thinking. A good story is the ideal context for the presentation of grammatical structures and discourse. Students can also write stories and their characters to represent themselves. The stories should be played from 1 to 5 minutes. The more they hype and oddities, the more likely students will remember those key moments, which they illustrate [1; 174].

Tasks that accompany the stories should be designed in such a way as to give students the opportunity to practice communication in a foreign language class. The primary perception of students can read the story yourself about yourself, keep reading teacher or one or two students. Questions after each story serve to check the understanding and practice of the use of certain grammatical structures, as well as a springboard for further interactive activities of students.

Our work with the issues may be different: they can be read aloud or silently, to respond to them, based on the illustrations, text. Working in pairs or small groups is also effective during a conversation on the content of the text. Students can work with one or more partners and take turns asking and answering questions. This form of practice can serve as a transition to a discussion of the story by all group. Retelling useful for recovery in the memory content of the text and grammatical structures that it contains.

The story can be the basis for a role-playing game where students perform the role of various heroes, inventing their own replicas and playing situations, or to create their own original stories that can facilitate the participation of all groups in dialogue.

Students can tell their own stories or retell stories of their partners, while the others listen and ask questions. Thus, grammar learning could be a dynamic, communicative and cheerful, with texts in different stages of development of the grammatical structure [6; 188].

Using the elements of drama helps to establish a correspondence between the grammatical structure and its social function. Methodologists often offer using tasks with the elements of drama, recognizing that these tasks are an effective tool in teaching grammar [1; 144].

Referring to the results of the work with the students and his research on the development of dramatic techniques in teaching foreign language, Stern believes that drama strengthens the motivation, empathy and reduces the feeling of detachment. Stern argues that tasks with the elements of drama «health to the confusion and delay of interest, which are often found in the study of a foreign language», because they provide strong evidence of the need for language. Stern concludes that the drama demonstrates to learners of foreign language, that they really have the ability to express themselves in real communication situations [7; 80]. In other words, tasks with elements of drama can improve oral communication skills. According to Stern, communication strategies used by students during the drama activities, help them «to adapt to the status of the speaker in a foreign language and strive to become a part of their linguistic repertoire» [7; 86].

Methods of using drama quite varied and designed to work with students with a high level of formedness of grammatical skills, allowing to highlight those grammatical structures that require repetition and refinement. Dramatic activity is the best way to do this.

The dramatized parody requires lengthy prearrangement: writing of roles, writing for the screen. During the preparation foreign language is used for communication, so mistakes are not corrected by the teacher during the lesson, and then they are recorded for later analysis and practice. The next stage is the editorial work of the teacher, and this work consists in that the roles were written idiomatically and grammatically correct. Thus, drama situation becomes context for practicing grammar.

Effective, but require less additional training is a task which uses the recorded authentic dialogues aimed at communicative practice when developing the automation of the grammatical structure of speech. Such dialogues are used in practice, if it is necessary to pay attention to students on the discrepancy between the normative grammar, and one that is used in everyday language by native speakers. Authentic language material is an excellent tool to illustrate the perceived hard punches. Authentic dialogues can be particularly useful at the stage of language practice, especially if they are accompanied by an audio illustration. Students work out the dialogues in pairs, trying to imitate the pronunciation and intonation of native speakers. Then given the opportunity to tape their own version of the dialogue and to compare with the original. Repeated dialogue allows students to observe and to use the practiced grammatical structures. Such a grammar lesson can combine different types of speech activities (if dialogue is written under dictation), reading, listening and work on pronunciation, allowing multiple repetition of the being studied material. The final part of this work is improvisation related to the communicative practice. Students can be given the task to create a dialogue for this, but at the same time, the new situation, without limiting them to the linguistic means [8; 255].

Role play as one of the kinds of drama, used in the process of communicative teaching a foreign language, F. Rosenzweig gives the following definition: «Role play is a dramatization of real life situations in which students take on the role of its heroes. It poses in front of the students the problem, but instead to come to an agreement to solve this problem within a group, the students develop their own solution» [9; 111–115]. F. Rosenzweig argues that well-chosen role plays summarize the students to the typical situations with which they are most likely to face both inside and outside the classroom. Help of the teacher provides them with a linguistic and cultural confidence, improving their ability to communicate effectively. It is optimal reception for the communicative practice in the selection of structures due to social factors.

At the initial stage of role-playing game (problem statement, the distribution of roles and the division into groups; an explanation of lexical items and grammatical structures which it is necessary to use; the discussion and trial execution of roles) students are allowed free communication without an immediate correction of mistakes, because mistakes are recorded for later grammar analysis. Then it is performed a role play. After each act the teacher commented minor bugs. More serious mistakes remain for correction on grammar. After the presentation of each group all discuss issues arising from the situation of communication: different interpretations of the plot and the corresponding call responses from a linguistic and cultural point of view. The final stage is a written essay based on role-playing games and related issues, followed by an analysis of grammatical mistakes occurring in this task [10; 110].

An imaginary situation (simulation) in foreign language teaching is defined as «imitative, invented and played by reproduction of interpersonal contacts, organized around a problem situation» [11; 4, 5].Compared with the role-playing games in imaginary situations strengthened problematical element of conflict between the points of view, the positions of the participants. Simulations involve a broad discussion of issues, events, decision-making, consensus-building. They are closest to the dialogue, provide a plausible context of foreign speech and they are more predictable than role-playing games.

Participants of role-play exercise verbal interaction within the strictly prescribed role behavior imposed by the «mask» of the hero. Rejection of the mask of the hero violates the logic of role interaction. Imaginary situations require joint action during the discussion and decision-making in line with the strategy chosen by the participants themselves.

Role plays can be attributed to the language grammar practice, during which students work out the structure in a particular context, where many elements of reproduction of linguistic material, while the imaginary situations are the most effective for the development of proper communication skills and abilities, and they are intended for students of higher levels of language proficiency, who are able to use their language potential in close connection with the development of communicative competence.

Thus, the dramatic technique can be used to identify the grammatical structures caused by social factors. In addition, tasks with the dramatic elements provide contexts to help you integrate receptive and productive kinds of speech activity, focusing on the rules of grammar in speech. Special instructional technique we call information imbalance in other words the difference in the amount of information for communication of potential partners [12; 54, 55].

Games which are designed to provoke communication between students frequently depend on an information gaps put things in the right order.

Let's consider the ways of encouraging discussion which could be providing activities which force students to reach a decision or a consensus, often as a result of choosing between specific alternatives. An example of this kind of activity is where students consider a scenario in which an invigilator during a public exam catches a student copying from hidden notes.

A popular kind of activity is the prepared talk where a student makes a presentation on a topic of their own choice. Such talks are not designed for informal spontaneous conversation; because they are prepared, they are more writing like than this. However, if possible, students should speak from notes rather than from a script.

Prepared talks represent a defined and useful speaking genre, and if properly organized, can be extremely interesting for both speaker and listeners. Just as in process writing the development of the talk, from original ideas to finished work will be of vital importance.

Questionnaires are useful, because, by being pre-planned, they ensure that both questioner and respondent have something to say to each other. Depending upon how tightly designed they are, they may well encourage the natural use of certain repetitive language patterns and thus be situated in the middle of our communication continuum.

Students can design questionnaires on any topic that is appropriate. As they do so the teacher can act as a resource, helping them in the design process. The results obtained from questionnaires can then form the basis for written work, discussions, or prepared talks.

Many students derive great benefit from simulation and role-play. Students simulate a real-life encounter as if they were doing so in the real world, either as themselves in that meeting or aeroplane, or taking on the role of a character different from themselves or with thoughts and feelings they do not necessarily share. Simulation and role-play can be used to encourage general oral fluency, or to train students for specific situations especially where they are studying ESP.

For a simulation to work it must, according to Ken Jones [13] have the following characteristics:

  • – Reality of function: the students must not think of themselves as students, but as real participants in the situation.
  • – A simulated environment: the teacher says that the classroom is an airport check-in area, for example. Structure: students must see how the activity is constructed and they must be given the necessary information to carry out the simulation effectively.

In a role-play we add the element of giving the participants information about who they are, and what they think and feel.

Role-plays are effective when they are open-ended, so that different people have different views of what the outcome should be and a consensus has to be reached. That way there is a dynamic movement as the role-play progresses, with people clearly motivated to say as much or as little as they need to achieve their aims. In one such intermediate level activity.

In a different kind of a role-playing activity, students write the kind of questions they might ask anybody when they meet them first. Students are then given paintings by Goya, for example, and are asked to answer those questions as if they were characters from the painting. The same kind of imaginative interview role-play could be based around people in dramatic photographs.

Simulation and role-play went through a period of relative unpopularity, yet this is a pity since they have three distinct advantages. In the first place they can be good fun and thus motivating. Second, they allow hesitant students to be more forthright in their opinions and behavior than they might be when speaking for themselves, since they do not have to take the same responsibility for what they are saying. Third, by broadening the world of the classroom to include the world outside, they allow students to use a much wider range of language than some more task-centred activities may do [2; 272–274].

It is implemented in a variety of communicative tasks, which are characterized by the focus on the content of communication in terms of pair and group educational interaction. This method is based on the characteristic feature of the natural communication: at the beginning of communication the interlocutors speak only part of the information, as a result of speech interaction everyone gets a more comprehensive amount of information.

Its accumulation, in other words overcoming the information imbalance can occur when transcoding one form of information presentation to another, for example, if you select both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. Verbal forms include the variety of oral and written texts, which differ in their functional- communicative purpose, scope and degree of information curl. Non-verbal forms can be iconic (pictures) or graphics (tables, charts, diagrams) [14; 103].

Tasks for recoding information from nonverbal to verbal forms are effective in professionally - directed learning foreign language speaking, so it is advisable to use a higher level of proficiency.

Games with problem-oriented tasks, encourage students to use the language to solve the problem of speech, along with the desire to properly arrange verbal expression. This peculiarity makes it ideal for such tasks grammatically oriented practice when the students' attention was previously focused on the respective structures. The successful completion of this condition, to decision the problem in the course of the game contributes to the connection of the grammatical form and discourse, as each form is found naturally within the extended discursive context created problematic task [8; 245].

Using games with problem-oriented tasks, it is known to students that the teacher must be sure that the vocabulary and grammatical structures needed tasks to perform. Before performing the tasks carried out their activation on short simple exercises.

Since the games with problem tasks are a sort of «exercises» with «open ending» and are quite complex, they are more suitable for students who already have the required grammar and vocabulary skills. Experience has shown if tasks take into account the professional orientation of students, their ages and experience that well-designed games can contribute to the development and improvement of existing grammatical skills.

Problem tasks have a high value of the index in most areas of communicative techniques. Although these jobs provide an excellent opportunity for language practice, quite difficult to constantly pay attention to students for one or two structures with the simultaneous implementation of the priority pragmatic installation. Thus, as a means of teaching grammar, troublesome task requires the teacher's ability to focus students on selected grammatical structures. Communicative practice aimed at solving the speech problem should naturally focus trained a small number of structures [1; 133–136].

Games with problem-oriented tasks contain an element of competition. It can negatively affect on speech activity of weak students who are in a constant competition «lose». However, if the students have about the same level of formedness grammatical and communication skills if they are ambitious, then these tasks will be all the more effective the more they are focused on competition [15; 123].

When a task is explained and students are ready to implement it, the teacher closely monitors the working atmosphere in the group, since any problems, questions or conflicts should be resolved at the time of the assignment. To enhance communication and spontaneous speech production during the game, the teacher as little as possible corrects mistakes and intervene when there is a lack of understanding or communication is interrupted unnecessarily. Fixed mistakes are analyzed by the teacher after the tasks. Results of the analysis methods used for teaching communicative grammar, tabulated and reflect the ratio of the levels of language proficiency and the stages of formation of grammatical skills [1; 101–105].


The conclusion is that learning a foreign language in non - language high schools as a means of intercultural communication has become urgent due to changes in the international situation in the direction of integration, as well as the increasing demand for specialists in various fields of professional activity. Methodological approaches in the process of teaching a foreign language for a long time, did not provide conditions sufficient for the formation of the communicative competence of students for the following reasons:

  1. within one approaches emphasis on the structural organization of the language, thus slowing down the process of mastering its content side;
  2. other approaches, by contrast, reduced to a minimum learning grammar or completely ignored the formal aspect of the language;
  3. the third approach does not take into account such an important principle as awareness activities in the learning process, reducing it to a mechanical repetition and memorization.

Learning a foreign language can meet the modern requirements of formation of the communicative competence of students, if the measure of the level of training will be the effectiveness of the program of study, which provides a communicative approach to the educational process. The communicative approach aims at learning the mastery of language as a means of communication, using simulation of real life situations as the main receiving training.

Language category based on the formation of which is the notion of the relative similarity of correlations between the facts of different languages reflect both linguistic and extralinguistic information accumulated experience philological language high school students. For them, it is important to agree with the content of the relevant categories of language and select the appropriate means of expression. This allows the use of conscious-comparative approach in teaching communicative grammar as well.

To conclude, the effectiveness of the process of learning a foreign language is dependent on the realization of personal factors and individual psychological characteristics of students, the ratio of the motive and purpose of the activity of learning conditions in particular in a multinational audience.



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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy