to native speakers5. Due to automatic mastery of grammar and vocabulary they can focus on meaning
during communication. This has several implications for their language instruction. First of all, it
means that all the instruction for these students can be and should be done in a target language.
Secondly, students are capable of understanding elements of linguistic theory that help them to
improve studied competencies. Thirdly, superior level students are capable not only of understand the
methodology of teaching and learning (what the teacher is doing and why s/he is doing it) but to
actively participate in selecting and developing the teaching/learning tools and techniques that can
maximize learning. As a result, “teacher-student interactions change from master –apprentice to near-
peers with the same mission” (Betty Leaver and Boris Shekhtman, “Principles and Practices In
Teaching Superior-Level Language Skills, Developing Professional-Level language Proficiency”,
2002, p. 18).
The close resemblance of a superior level foreign language student’s speech to that of a
native speaker with regard to the mastery of grammar and vocabulary, does not mean that he or she
can fully function as a native speaker in the language.. There is a huge gap between the FL student
and native speaker which becomes obvious if you compare their levels of proficiency in other major
components of communicative competency including socio-cultural information and sociolinguistic
pragmatics. Superior level students still lack the specific socio-cultural and sociolinguistic
competence that an educated native speaker possesses and readily displays. The main purpose of the
current project, is to try to fill this particular gap by explicitly teaching that which a native speaker has
learned by osmosis and implicitly.
2. Establishing the significance of developing SCC and SLC for students working
5 It doesn’t mean that at level 3+ students have no challenges in grammar, vocabulary or strategic competencies. At this level students still need to master the obscure, complex, and erudite grammar models that are not generally considered the “basic system” but an elaboration of it, domain-specific vocabulary, and particularly complex aspects of discourse analysis/competence.