Communicative and Cognitive Language Proficiency: Implications for Testing in the L2 Classroom

  • Marguerite G. MacDonald


Two essentially different linguistic skills are involved in the mastery of a second foreign language. Stephen Krashen differentiates these two abilities through the labels acquisition and learning. Krashen (1982:10) maintains that “adults have two distinct and independent ways of developing competence in a second language.” The first way is through acquisition, which parallels first language acquisition in the child. Acquisition is a subconscious process, using language for communication. The second way is through learning. This is the conscious knowledge of language rules. In this paper I will explore the implications of this dichotomy, that is, the difference between communicative and cognitive language proficiency, for testing in the second language classroom.


Communicative Skill Foreign Language Target Language Language Proficiency Language Acquisition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marguerite G. MacDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Wright State UniversityDaytonUSA

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