12 The Unfulfilled Promise of Teaching for Communicative Competence: Insights from Sociocultural Theory
Sally Sieloff Magnan [+]
University of Wisconsin
In her chapter, ‘The Unfulfilled Promise of Teaching for Communicative Competence: Insights from Sociocultural Theory’ Magnan points out that pedagogies generally identified by the label Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), as inspired by Hymes’ (1971) notion of communicative competence, need to broaden the scope of what counts as authentic communicative activity. To date, according to Magnan, CLT has emphasized group work, role play and the use of so-called authentic materials as a way of simulating everyday life in the target language community. She cautions, however, that the culturally and linguistically sheltered population of most foreign language classrooms means that while communication may take place in the L2, it is most likely to be anchored in the learners’ native cultural concepts and discourse patterns. She goes on to consider the implications of Vygotskian principles, in particular Activity Theory, for CLT. Building on Wenger’s (1998) notion of communities of practice, Magnan suggests how foreign language pedagogy can be reconceptualized to situate learning in communities wider than those afforded by most classroom contexts. Learners are thus given the opportunity to shape their evolving multilingual and multicultural identities through co-constructive relationships with other social groups.