and social jargons and the so-called “common jargon.” Arabic, Spanish, and English specialists agreed
that our definition of SLC is acceptable for their languages10. The specific list of the most relevant
registers and genres as well as the linguistic characteristics of each, vary significantly from language to
We examined the literature of the field of second language acquisition looking for a non-
language specific, “universal” definition of SCC and SLC. The most representative models of SCC and
SLC we feel were developed as part of the communicative competence model. In 1972, Hymes, in
reaction to the Chomsky’s dichotomy of competence (i.e., knowledge of a language) and performance
(i.e., actual use of a language), put forth the notion of communicative competence, arguing that "there
are rules of use without which the rules of grammar would be useless" (p. 278).
According to Canale and Swain's (1980) and later Canale's (1983) classic definition,
communicative competence consists of four indispensable components: grammatical, discourse,
sociolinguistic, and strategic competences. Simply put, grammatical competence deals with sentence-
level rules only, discourse competence with rules that govern the relationship among sentences to form
a meaningful whole, sociolinguistic competence with rules of speaking that depend on pragmatic,
socio-cultural elements, and strategic competence with the way the speaker manipulates language to
fulfill communicative goals. If the foreign language course aims at enabling learners to reach a level of
communicative competence, all four components are of great importance. For superior level students
who have already gained control over grammatical and discourse competencies and for whom strategic
competency is much less relevant, the significance of SCC and SLC is impossible to overestimate.
4. Components of SCC and SLC chosen for practical mastering
10 The fact that a particular definition of a competency is applicable to another language doesn’t mean of course that this definition is the only possible one. For example, the following definition of SLC was proposed as an alternative definition for the Spanish language. It is the ability to produce the appropriate response according to the rules of usage and the participants in a given communicative situation.