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say. They are focuses on selecting appropriate grammar and vocabulary. In the native speaker’s

communication, there is complete coincidence between the ideational and mechanical planes.

Moreover, the mechanical plane is hidden: one perceives only meaning. This happens for one

reason: the mechanical part is absolutely automatically controlled. The total concentration of the

native speaker is on what he or she is saying simultaneously with an almost complete absence of

attention to how he or she is saying it (except under special circumstances when he or she

deliberately wants to control some aspect of language). We can say that, in the case of a native

speaker, meaning and form overlap, that they do not exist separately, that there is harmony between

the what (meaning) and the how (form, language).

Everything changes, however, when a non-native speaker begins to speak. One immediately

sees the difference between what (meaning) and how (mechanics). The non-native speaker

constantly encounters situations where she or he cannot express a clear, simple thought either

because she or he doesn’t know how to express it due to a lack of linguistic knowledge or the lack of

automaticity of this knowledge. The nonnative speaker, then, performs dual activity in real time:

increasing the cognitive load by keeping track of the idea s/he wants to express and generating

foreign sounds, grammar and words in correct sequences. In other words, conversational interaction

for the nonnative speaker is communication mediated by language, i.e. formularized intercourse,

since for the nonnative speaker what to say and how to say it are two distinct and equally important

aspects of interaction. The difference in the language performance of native and non-native speakers

thus lies in the focus they have on either the meaning or the form of communication.

The ILR S-3 level of proficiency is the first level which is characterized by significant control

of standard grammatical and lexical aspects of linguistic form and in this respect they are almost equal


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