The listening and speaking learning progressions reflect a model in which listening and speaking tasks are understood to include:
- Functional competence. The ability to convey and interpret communicative intent.
- Sociocultural competence. The ability to recognise and use the forms of listening and speaking that are appropriate to different contexts: this includes an awareness of register, for example, the use of appropriate vocabulary and attending to relevant tikanga.
- Strategic competence. Enables listeners to integrate and apply the various components of listening and speaking.
Adults also need to have knowledge of language and text features in order to hear, produce and understand meaningful speech.21
Oprandy (1994) states:
… there is an enormous amount of information that needs to be sorted out by listeners and speakers …What is done with that information has a lot to do with the personal and social connections listeners make with the aural input, not to mention the grammatical and lexical knowledge they must bring to the speech event.
For these reasons, both the listening and speaking strands include a progression for vocabulary and a progression for knowledge of language and text features.
The listening strand describes an increasing ability to understand more complex vocabulary, grammar and types of oral discourse (which may include text types in oral form, such as recounts, or information reports). It also describes an increasing ability to understand vocabulary and grammar associated with less personal and familiar topics.
The speaking strand shares these focuses and also recognises that speakers need to develop a repertoire of discourse forms so they can choose the form that best matches their audience and purpose.
register captures the sense of “fit for the occasion” choices of language, nonverbal features and forms of listening and speaking. In many community, work and social settings, there are registers that apply to specific situations and competent adults are aware of how to adjust their register when needed. Examples include the registers used when chatting with a friend, the technical language and close attention used in an instructional situation and the formal, respectful ways of speaking and listening that may be used in a church.
To some extent, a speaker’s ability to select the text type and features that best match their purpose and audience determines what it means to be communicatively competent.22