As we pointed out in last week’s entry, our university has built its curricula around human capabilities and competences. While most people have narrowed down the idea of communicative competence to what the Common European Framework of Reference says (specifically Chapter 5), the idea of communicative competence is older and goes further than the CEFR, goin back to the work of Chomsky and Hymes. We’ll discuss what talking about communicative competence entails throughout the week.

DAY 1: Understanding Communicative Competence

As we said, assuming that communicative competence is a CEFR thing is very shortsighted. In our first session, we’ll discuss the actual meaning of communicative competence through the voices of two highly respected scholars.

First, watch these media where Professor Jack Richards defines what communicative competence is.

Then, confront Richards’ ideas with what Professor Courtney Cazden discussed in her article,

  • Cazden, C. B. (2011). Dell Hymes’s construct of “communicative competence”. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 42(4), 346-369. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1492.2011.01144.x.

The goal is that you all come up with a one-sentence definition of communicative competence. Below you will find the students’ responses:

The communicative competence’s objective is improve the skills of communication (Reading, writing, speaking and listening), according to Hymes not is just knowledge about language forms because it should include the appropriate of context and culture, taking account the social norms and collaborative interactions with others.

(Camila Diaz, Ximena Caro, & Jheyson Balanta)

Communicative competence is the correct use of a language in a specific context; otherwise, is the capacity of building with coherence and cohesion a statmen in order to a field taking into account grammar, structures, vocabulary, etc.

(York Cañaveral & Daniel Saldarriaga)

Communicative Competence is a set of mental skills which aim is the successful communication in which every individual acquire the language through community interaction which enables the understanding about meanings and sense of the context and the linguistic limits or regulations in which the persons are able to apply the language in his or her own way within those competences.

(Julián Orozco, Daniela Gantiva, & Clara Álvarez)

Communicative competence is the way that we use language structure in the context and appropriate use of dialect differences. The use of language is inherent in our awareness because, not depends in the age, ethnography and potential, but it goes beyond into complex constructions and capabilities. Communicative competence is a “construction” (P.366) with others and requires collaborative interactions and improve the social mind and social life.

According to Hyme’s communicative competences includes not only knowledge of language forms but also knowledge of form- function relationships learned from the embeddedness of all language use in social life. His intellectual interest here less in argument with chomsky, and more the necessity for the hybrid field of ethnography of communication, Also explain, “the importance of human ability to create context through language”. P.367

It is important to mention that, first and second language acquisition provided the evidence previously learned patterns of language because can be used for transformation and reorganization of own knowledge and to develop awareness since of more complex constructions also, with experiences of learning and life about our knowledge we can experiment and to understand better cognitive process for learning and to relation the emotions of each people and your communicative competence. This way also allows that students learn more easily with other students in a social way, so that develop their knowledge and too it’s involved in every social sphere to help us have a better understanding when talking.


– Cazden, C. (2011). Dell Hymes’s Construct of “Communicative Competence”. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, (1) 42, Issue 4, pp. 364–369.

(Elizabeth Hurtado Sierra, Laura Marcela Restrepo, Stephania Ávila Albarracín, & Juliana Hincapié Arcila)

Communicative competence is a capability that includes not only knowledge language forms such as syntax or morphology among others; but also knowledge of functions of these forms from the interaction of language use into the social, cultural and psychological rules that determinate the particular use of language in different situations.

(Tatiana Arboleda, Manuela Ospina, & Karen Présiga)

DAY 2: Communicative Competence in the English classroom

We’ll guide the discussion using two class readings:

  • Lenchuk, I. & Ahmed, A. (2013). Teaching pragmatic competence: A journey from teaching cultural facts to teaching cultural awareness. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada, 30(7), 82-97.
  • Nazari, A. (2007). EFL teachers’ perception of the concept of communicative competence. ELT Journal, 61(3), 202-210. doi:10.1093/elt/ccm027
  1. What do the articles say about teachers’ understanding and use of ideas related to communicative competence?
  2. What words of caution do we get from the articles?

DAY 3: Communicative Tasks and WebQuests

For the consolidation, we’ll read the following articles:

  • Crabbe, D. (2007). Learning opportunities: adding learning value to tasks. ELT Journal, 61(2), 117-125. doi:10.1093/elt/ccm004
  • Sung, K-Y. (2010). Promoting communicative language teaching through communicative tasks. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 1(5), 704-713. doi:10.4304/jltr.1.5.704-713

As you read the articles, revisit what we’ve done so far about WebQuests and answer the following question:

What are the essential elements that the communicative tasks for a WebQuest must bear in mind?

Hit the comments with your answers… or be a bit more multimodal in your answer!

Let’s make it happen!

Dr. Berry (#formylittleangels)


One of the central reflections of Communicative Competence V is to infuse an epistemological and not simply instrumental approach to technology use. Without a deeper reflection about why we need new technologies in the classroom, there will never be real transformations to the curriculum (Cope & Kalantzis, 2007).

I discovered this picture earlier this morning and I thought I’d share it:




One of the reasons why I chose to talk about this has everything to do with our curriculum, which our university has declared is based on human capabilities (Nussbaum, 2006; Sen, 2005) and competences (we’ll get to those next week). One of my biggest concerns deals with the lack of appropriation (Engeström, 1999) of terms that we tend to use in education (Grossman, Smagorinsky, & Valencia, 1999). Many of these terms have become commonplace (Golovátina-Mora, 2013; Mora, 2012) and we need to be very clear about what they mean and their real utility in educational and curricular transformations.

This week’s exercise intends to address that particular issue, by helping students develop a stronger grip on the idea of human capabilities while helping me think carefully about how the notion of human capabilities really contributes to the design of better WebQuests, an area that our previous research (Mora, Martínez, Alzate-Pérez, Gómez-Yepes, & Zapata-Monsalve, 2012) hadn’t fully addressed.

As an introductory activity. students watched the following lecture by Martha Nussbaum:

In addition to the video, two activities comprise this exercise:

PART 1: Have you ever heard of Venn Diagrams?

We all remember Venn Diagrams from our days in school; you know, the two intersecting circles where you point out points of convergence in the middle. For this first part, all students had to read two texts:

  • Nussbaum, M. C. (2006). Frontiers of justice: Disability, nationality, species membership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Sen, A. (2005). Human rights and capabilities. Journal of Human Development, 6(2), 151-166. doi: 10.1080/14649880500120491

After they read, each team had to draw their diagrams. The diagrams they portrayed appear below:

2015-02-17 17.48.06 2015-02-17 17.47.32 2015-02-17 17.41.52 2015-02-17 17.41.23

PART 2: Linking human capabilities and WebQuests

For this section, we will return to the main question in the title, “Why bring up human capabilities in WebQuest design?” To answer this question, you will start right where we left off: The Venn Diagrams. You will go back to the diagrams in light of the two readings assigned for today:

  • Smith, M. L., Spence, R., & Rashid, A. T. (2011). Mobile phones and expanding human capabilities. Information Technologies & International Development, 7(3), 77-88.
  • Walker, M. (2008). A human capabilities framework for evaluating student learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 13(4), 477-487. doi:10.1080/13562510802169764

Both readings set the idea of human capabilities within two areas that are related to our work, evaluation (think of rubrics) and technology use, providing a practical approach to their utility in concrete educational activities.

As you read, return to the previous readings if necessary.

Now, about how to answer the question, you should prepare a written statement. When you do this, write the statement not as a stand-alone activity, but as the beginning of the first two assignments (revisit the syllabus if you’re not sure). You should write your response in the comments, and you’re welcome to use it (with the expansions that will take place in following weeks) as part of either of those assignments. In fact, you should use it in either of those assignments.

Have a good afternoon… and send positive vibes the way of that puppy…

Dr. Berry

From their inception, WebQuests intend to promote a space for social construction, in our case, of communicative competence. As we continue learning about them, it is important for us (as teachers) to learn how WebQuests are actual vehicles for critical thinking and social constructivism.

To do this, all students (split in small groups) discussed the following six articles:

  • Ipkeze, C. H. & Boyd, F. B. (2007). Web-based inquiry learning: Facilitating thoughtful literacy with WebQuests. The Reading Teacher, 60(7), 644-654.
  • Kundu. R. & Bain, C. (2006). Webquests: Utilizing technology in a constructivist manner to facilitate meaningful preservice learning. Art Education, 59(2), 6-11.
  • Polly, D. & Ausband, L. (2006). Developing higher-order thinking skills through WebQuests. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 26(1), 29-34.
  • Vidoni, K. L. & Maddux, C. D. (2002). WebQuests. Computers in the Schools, 19(1), 101-117. doi: 10.1300/J025v19n01_09
  • Yoder, M. B. (2006). Adventures in electronic constructivism. Learning & Leading with Technology, 34(1), 24-27.
  • Yücel, C. (2013). WebQuest usage in democracy, human rights, and citizenship education. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(4), 219-227.

As the result of the reading and discussion, each group will write a brief response (about 200 words) to answer the following question:

What do you think is the relationship among critical thinking, social constructivism, and WebQuests

The responses will also show evidence of how they made sense of the readings.

Enjoy the responses!

Dr. Berry

Since we’re back to work on WebQuests, it is important to revisit what they are. This will be our work for this week.

To get us started, I want you to watch these two videos. One featured the WebQuest master himself, Dr. Bernie Dodge:

Also, watch this video where a group of gifted students in 1st and 2nd grade talk about WebQuests

This second video is particularly interesting as it goes on to prove that WebQuests as a learning tool don’t really have a ceiling. All ages and language competence levels have the potential to create top-notch WebQuests.

As you watch this, come to class with a brief working definition of WebQuests. Write it down on an index card (so it should’t be something too long) and bring it with you.

After our initial discussions, I stumbled upon a very interesting spoken word performance titled, “Can we Auto-correct Humanity?” where this [slam] poet reflects on what technology and social networks have [and have not] done to us.

I find it fitting for our class because of the larger discussions that permeate our work this semester about the use of technology in class. Enjoy the video!

– Dr. Berry

Reconceptualizing and Recontextualizing Language Education and ICTs in the Classroom

One of the goals of this course is to help preservice teachers gain a deeper understanding of everything that introducing ICTs/digital literacies/internet-based tasks entails. The central argument here is that we need to engage in an epistemological discussion about the use of these new media and digital literacy practices as the precursor of the instrumental work that will take place in the classroom, and not the other way around.

To engage in this work, students will initially watch two lectures:

Lecture 1: Education in the Digital Era: More than technology use in the classroom by Prof. Hugo Areiza (Universidad del Valle)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Lecture 2: Have we told our children why they should learn another language? A critical discussion on the new roles and questions for language learning in Colombia by Dr. Raúl A. Mora

As you watch both lectures, think about the central transformation that both lectures are calling for in the way we should conceive language teaching today. Complement this discussion with the new challenges for ICT and language learning posed in the two articles below:

Barnes, K., Marateo, R., & Ferris, S. (2007). Teaching and learning with the net generation. Innovate, 3(4). Retrieved from

Mora R. A. (2011, August). Challenges and Opportunities for Literacy and Technology in ELT Teacher Education. Keynote Presentation at the 2nd Colloquia on Research and Innovation in Foreign Language Education 2011, Bogotá D.C., Colombia. Retrieved from

Course overview (as detailed in the course syllabus)

In the context of preservice second language education in Colombia, there is a concern about the implementation of online and digital technologies in our classrooms (Mora, 2014a). With this push, there is the need to consider pedagogical alternatives for the use of computer labs and other resources available on the web (e.g. learning platforms, webpages, blogs, etc.). However, as Mora and colleagues (Mora, et al., 2012a, b, c) have pointed out, if there is not a clear conceptual framework or well-defined tasks, activities may not go further than using Google or Wikipedia to end up writing (sometimes barely cutting and pasting) a report. When activities in the computer lab require little engagement and creativity, and the end result is not conducive to the construction of new environments for knowledge generation and interaction. At the same time, teacher-moderators and their students are discussing the inclusion of conceptual frameworks such as socio-cultural theories, critical thinking and competencies, and  multimodality, to name a few, as ideas that are becoming more predominant in today’s classrooms.             

This background supports Communicative Competence V. Through the readings and discussions in class, students should be able to develop a sense of autonomy in relation to their own learning strategies while engaging in deeper language and literacy practices. This component will retake some of the initial work with WebQuests (Dodge, 1997; March, 2000; Mora, et al., 2011, 2012a, b, c) that belonged, prior to the curricular transformation of the Communicative Competence Cycle (Martínez, 2012; Mora, et al., 2012a), to Communicative Competence III.  The work with WebQuests that we will continue in Communicative Competence V will revisit the first additions to the conceptual background that integrated ideas about communicative tasks, competences, and the analysis of the Common European Framework and will add a few more ideas (Mora, 2014d). Specifically, in this iteration of the component we will zero in on the inclusion of multimodality (Kress, 2010; Mejía-Vélez & Salazar Patiño, 2014; Mora, 2014b) as the key feature that will help teachers design better and more meaningful WebQuests.

In line with the overall spirit of the Communicative Competence cycle, this component will continue emphasizing a heightened awareness of two realities permeating our work: (a) the need for all teachers need to be highly qualified practitioners of their craft and (b) the position of this course within a preservice teacher education program. Therefore, a constant reflexivity (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992; Mora, 2011, 2014c, forthcoming) process about how to apply these contents and ideas to our work with students in the local contexts of Antioquia and Colombia will be a fixture will be a fixture in our class activities and discussions.

Dr. Mora’s note: This version of Communicative Competence V has revised, updated, and expanded the initial work from Communicative Competence III that Prof. Juan Diego Martínez and I did between 2011 and 2013. His work in the latest versions of this course was instrumental for this transformation.

The redesign of this course was an effort supported by the Literacies in Second Languages Project from the Student Research Group on Second Languages at UPB-Medellín.