الاثنين، 21 يناير، 2013

Assessing the ability of Sudanese English learners when using grammatical structures communicatively By: Dr. Omer Elsheikh Hago Open University of Sudan

Assessing the ability of Sudanese English learners when using grammatical structures communicatively By: Dr. Omer Elsheikh Hago Open University of Sudan Abstract This study aims at assessing the ability of Sudanese English learners when using grammatical structures communicatively. So, it was devoted to discuss the role that grammar plays in models of communicative competence. At the same time the study explains the role of grammar in communicative purposes. The results obtained are: Sudanese students are incompetent in using grammar well enough for some real-world purpose. Grammar plays a role in language communicative competence for the learners of English language. Learners’ mastery of the language communicative ability is affected when language learners are unable to successfully communicate in L2 without cultural knowledge of what is considered appropriate according to a particular context in the target language. The study is ended in recommendations and suggestions. المستخلص تهدف هذه الدراسة إلى تقويم مقدرة طلاب اللغة الانجليزية السودانيين عندما يستخدمون التراكيب النحوية لأغراص اتصالية. لذا، خصصت هذه الدراسة لمناقشة الدور الذي يلعبه النحو في نماذج من الكفاءة التواصلية. في الوقت نفسه أوضحت الدراسة دور النحو في الأغراض الاتصالية. و توصلت الدراسة إلى النتائج الآتية: لم يكن الطلاب السودانيون بالكفاءة التي تمكنهم من استخدام القواعد لبعض الأغراض في الواقع الاتصالي الحقيقي. يلعب النحو دورا في كفاية اللغة الاتصالية لدى طلاب اللغة الانجليزية. يتأثر إتقان القدرة التواصلية لدى المتعلمين عندما لا يستطيعون التواصل باللغة الثانية في غياب المعرفة الثقافية و التي تعتبر مناسبة وفقا لسياق معين في اللغة المستهدفة. وانتهت الدراسة إلى توصيات ومقتراحات. Background No doubt, there are several methods of assessing Language Communicative ability of learners and how language teachers and second language acquisition (SLA) researchers drew on these methods to pave the road to non-native speakers of English to improve their communicative ability. Also there are so many discussions that have discussed how different instruc¬tional practices influenced how learners acquire knowledge of English as a second or foreign language. Implicit was also the notion that if more than one assessment of Language Communicative ability was obtained over time, inferences related to language learning or even the effectiveness of instruction could be determined based on the observed changes in what learners demonstrate on these measures. This information is of particu¬lar concern to language teachers, testers and SLA researchers for making instructional recommendations. Thus, Language Communicative ability is clearly an integral part of language teaching and learning, as it provides an empirical basis for making a variety of educa¬tional decisions, both on practical and theoretical levels. Statement of the Problem Sudanese learners of English language at the university level face many problems in expressing themselves in English, so they make poor English texts. This issue has been experienced by the researcher as a teacher of English at the university level, therefore, the researcher intended to study (assess) one of these problems that is the English language communicative ability of learners of English language at the Open University of Sudan. The researcher thinks that assessing language communicative ability of learners of English language would be the proper area to study for its value is seen, in particular, in helping researchers, educationalists, teachers of English for any techniques would improve learner's practical language skills. This paper concentrates only on the study of grammar which has had a long and important role in the history of second language and foreign language teaching. For centuries, to learn another language, or what referred to generically as an L2, meant to know the grammatical structures of that language and to cite prescription for its use. Grammar was used to mean the analysis of a language system, and the study of grammar was not just considered an essential feature of language learning, but was thought to be sufficient for learners to actually acquire another language (Rutherford, 1988: 15-18). Grammar in and of itself was deemed to be worthy of study – to the extent that in the Middle Age in Europe, it was thought to be the foundation of all knowledge and the getaway to sacred and secular understanding (Hillocks and Smith, 1991: 591-603). Thus, the central role of grammar in language teaching remained relatively uncontested until the late twentieth century. Even a few decades ago, it would have been hard to imagine language instruction without immediately thinking of grammar. Limits of the Study This study is restricted to assess the grammatical usages for communication purposes experienced by learners of English language at the Open University of Sudan as a case study in the academic year 2009 – 2010. The open university of Sudan covers the whole country, but this study is limited to Khartoum State only. Objectives of the Study This study aims at: 1. determining whether learners have the ability to use appropriate language forms to communicate accurately and meaningfully; 2. and providing a remedial work that could be done to enhance learners' ability to communicate easily and successfully. Research Questions In investigating the research problem, the researcher will try to find answers to the following questions: 1. What exactly does a student need to "know" in terms of language to be able to use it well enough for some real-world purposes? 2. How are Sudanese students' expressions synthesized into texts? Hypotheses of the Study Here are two possible hypotheses of this study to be verified. 1. Learners of English at Open University of Sudan are incompetent in using language forms well enough for some real-world purpose. 2. Learners of English at Open University of Sudan need to master grammar perfectly. Literature Review Grammar in models of communicative language ability In the early 1960s, Lado (1961), having been influenced by structuralist theory, proposed a 'skills-and-elements' model of language proficiency that viewed language ability as three more or less independent, yet related, dimensions of language knowledge, interpreted rather narrowly as phonology, structure and the lexicon - all aspects of linguistic forms. The underlying assumption was that 'proficient' second or foreign lan¬guage learners would be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the elements (i.e., phonology, structure and the lexicon) in the context of the language skills (i.e., listening, reading, speaking and writing). Grammatical knowledge for Lado consisted solely of morphosyntactic form. Lado's model is presented in Building on Lado's (1961) notion of language proficiency, Carroll (1968) defined language competence in terms of phonology and orthography, grammar, and the lexicon. For Carroll, however, grammatical compe¬tence incorporated both the morphosyntax and semantic components of grammar, whereas lexical competence included morphemes, words and idioms on the one hand, and the semantic and grammatical components of the lexicon on the other. In this view, Carroll recognized the overlap between form and meaning in instances of language use. Carroll (1968) expanded Lado's (1961) model of language knowledge by arguing that tests should be designed to predict the use of language ele¬ments and skills in future social situations or future tasks that the learn¬ers might encounter in life. By relating tests to target language use contexts, Carroll (1961) challenged the discrete-point approach to meas¬uring one point of grammar at a time, as seen in Lado's (1961) skills-and-elements model, and proposed that discrete-point tasks be complemented by integrative tasks that would also assess the learner's capacity to use several components of language at the same time. In other words, Carroll (1961, 1968) characterized grammatical knowledge as being intrinsically associated with use, thereby redefining language pro¬ficiency as the degree to which the learner can demonstrate control of phonology or orthography, grammar (morphology, syntax) and the lexicon, while using one of the language skills in some real-life task. Influenced by Carroll's (1961,1968) ideas on grammar and language use, Oiller (1979) rejected the elements-and-skills approach to proficiency, pro-posing instead a view of second or foreign language proficiency in terms of an individual's 'pragmatic expectancy grammar'. He defined pragmatic expectancy grammar as a psychologically real system that 'causes the learner to process sequences of elements in a language that conform to the normal contextual constraints of that language, and . . . requires the learner to relate sequences of linguistic elements via pragmatic mappings to the extra linguistic context' (Oiller, 1979, p. 38). In other words, pragmatic expectancy grammar attributes the shape of linguistic forms to contextual meanings, which reflect the prototypical norms, preferences and expecta¬tions of language in communicating real-life messages. To illustrate the notion of pragmatic expectancy grammar, the gap-filling task is considered. In this task, the test-taker reads a passage with periodic gaps in the text. Reading the passage introduces the test-taker to the context of the passage, allowing him or her to relate the information to 'extra linguistic context' and to interpret it accordingly. This provides a basis for the test-taker to predict information for the gap, invoking the notion of 'expectancy'. The type of information the test-taker might be expected to supply could relate to linguistic form, semantic meaning and/or pragmatic use, or could, in some way, tap into the test-taker's rhe-torical, sociocultural or topical knowledge. For example, a test-taker might examine the linguistic environment of the gap and determine from the sequential organization of language (i.e., expectancy grammar) that a verb best completes the gap. He or she might also decide that the verb needs to carry past meaning and embody a specific lexical form. Finally, in realizing that the contextual focus of the sentence is on the action and not on the agent, the test-taker uses a passive voice construction (prag¬matic use). In sum, pragmatic expectancy grammar forces the test-taker to integrate his or her knowledge of grammar, meaning and pragmatic use to complete the task. Oiller's (1979) definition of 'grammar' involves more than what had pre-viously been subsumed under the rubric of grammar. Interestingly enough, 'grammar' in this view embraces not only grammatical form (involving phonology, morphosyntax and the lexicon) on the sentential level, but also grammatical form on the suprasentential or discourse level through cohesion and coherence. It also involves grammatical form on a pragmatic level through extra linguistic reference that might be invoked by the suppliance of a contextually appropriate word. Oiller's (1979) notion of pragmatic expectancy grammar can thus be credited as the first serious attempt in language testing to define grammar as an integration of linguistic form and pragmatic use as this relates to context. Although Oiller's (1979) notion of pragmatic expectancy grammar sug-gested a radically different and more complex definition of what was gen-erally understood by grammatical knowledge, he did not identify or clearly define the distinct components of expectancy grammar. Nor did he clearly specify how these components might be measured separately or how they might relate to a coherent model of language proficiency. On the contrary, Oiller hypothesized that pragmatic expectancy constituted a single, unitary ability. Subsequent research in language testing (e.g., Bachman and Palmer, 1982) clearly demonstrated, however, that this hypothesis was not supported by research data and that language ability was, indeed, multi-componential. As a result, research on pragmatic expectancy grammar was, unfortunately, short-lived. In 1980, the notion of grammatical competence as a component dis¬tinct from other components of language competence was proposed in an influential paper published by Canaleand Swain. Inspired by the theo-retical descriptions of language in use proposed by Hymes (1971: 31-34, 1972: 35-71), they argued that Chomsky's (1965) notion of competence had failed to account for sociolinguistic appropriateness expressed by an utterance in context. They maintained that this failing had serious implications since an utterance might be grammatically correct, but sociolinguistically inappropriate. As a result, Canale and Swain (1980) and later Canale (1983: 333-42) proposed a model of communicative competence consisting of grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse com¬petence and strategic competence. This model has significantly broad¬ened the understanding of communicative competence by specifying features of linguistic form alongside other features of language use. In their model, Canale and Swain (1980) defined grammatical compe¬tence as knowledge of the rules of phonology, the lexicon, syntax and semantics. Grammatical competence embodied the lexico-grammatical or semantic-grammatical features of the language. However, even though Canale and Swain acknowledged that both form and meaning constituted interrelated features of grammatical competence, they failed to distinguish how the two were associated. Similarly, they failed to artic¬ulate the relationship between grammatical competence and the other competencies in their framework. In other words, no explanation was provided on how their framework accounted for cases in which grammar was used to encode meanings beyond the sentence level or meanings that were implied without being said. Finally, when put to the test of val¬idation, Canale and Swain's (1980) model was only partially supported by research data (e.g., Harley, Allen, Cummins and Swain, 1990). In spite of these caveats, Canale and Swain's (1980) model of commu-nicative competence, with its broadened view of language, has had an enormous impact on the field of second or foreign language education. It is credited for having provided the main theoretical framework underly¬ing communicative language teaching and materials development, and it has succeeded in generating considerable discussion and research activ¬ity-Building on this work and that of many others, Bachman (1990b) and later Bachman and Palmer (1996) proposed a multi-componential model of communicative language ability which has provided the most compre-hensive conceptualization of language ability to date. Instead of limiting their model to components of language knowledge, Bachman and Palmer also specified non-linguistic components of communicative language ability invoked in test-taking and language use. For example, in their model of language use, a test-taker's language knowledge, along with her topical knowledge and personal characteristics, is hypothesized to inter¬act with her strategic competence (i.e., metacognitive strategies) and affect (i.e., anxiety, motivation). This, in turn, is said to interact with the characteristics of the language-use or test-task situation. In short, this model views language ability as an internal construct, consisting of lan-guage knowledge and strategic competence, that interacts with the lan-guage user's topical knowledge and other internal characteristics (e.g., affect), as well as with the characteristics of the context. Language use thus consists of internal interactions among learner attributes (e.g., lan-guage knowledge, strategic competence, topical knowledge, affect) together with external interactions between these attributes and features of the language-use context. In describing language knowledge, Bachman and Palmer (1996) spec-ified two general components: (1) organizational knowledge or how indi-viduals control language structure to produce grammatically correct utterances or sentences and texts, and (2) pragmatic knowledge or how individuals communicate meaning and how they produce contextually appropriate utterances, sentences or texts. Organizational knowledge is further divided into grammatical knowledge, or 'how individual utterances or sentences are organized', and textual knowledge, or 'how utterances or sentences are organized into texts' (ibid., p. 68). Grammatical knowledge is defined as an individual's knowledge of vocabulary, syntax and phonology/graphology, while textual knowledge refers to an individual's knowledge of cohesion (e.g., pronouns, lexical repetition), rhetorical organization (e.g., logical connectors) and conversational organization (e.g., turn-taking strategies, topic nomination). In short, grammatical knowledge in this model accounts for grammar on the sub sentential and sentential levels, while textual knowledge accounts for language on a suprasentential or dis¬course level. Pragmatic knowledge is then defined in terms of functional knowledge and sociolinguistic knowledge. Functional knowledge refers to 'how utterances or sentences and texts are related to the communicative goals of language users' (p. 68). In other words, functional knowledge enables individuals to use organizational knowledge to express or interpret lan-guage functions in communicative settings. Sociolinguistic knowledge refers to 'how utterances or sentences and texts are related to features of the language use setting' (p. 68). In other words, it enables individuals to understand situation-specific language and to tailor language to a partic-ular language-use setting. In Bachman and Palmer's (1996) view, grammatical knowledge refers to several components of linguistic form relating strictly to sentence-based phonology, graphology, vocabulary and syntax. From an assessment per-spective, this depiction is useful if our goal is to measure linguistic forms alone - and in fact, there are many instances in which one might wish to do just that. For example, if an individual's knowl¬edge of the present perfect tense forms wanted to be determined, it could construct a discrete-point test of grammar, targeting aspects of the verb form [have/has + past participle), or it could develop a test targeting word order in question formation. This view of grammatical knowledge defined as form, however, does not account for situations where a student might know the form, but be unclear about the meaning. Nor does it differentiate between the different types of meanings that grammatical forms encode. Bachman and Palmer's (1996) definition of language knowledge encompasses the grammatical, textual, functional and sociolinguistic components of language knowledge, but it is unclear how these compo-nents relate in actual language use or how grammatical knowledge might provide a resource for the interactions to occur. In other words, their model could benefit from a more detailed description of how grammar is used to encode meaning at the sentential and suprasentential levels. It addresses meaning to some degree under the rubric of organizational knowledge (vocabulary), textual knowledge (cohesion), functional knowl-edge and sociolinguistic knowledge; however, given the central role of meaning in language instruction and communicative language use, a more explicit depiction of this aspect of language knowledge would be helpful. In sum, many different models of communicative competence have emerged over the years. The more recent depictions have presented much broader conceptualizations of communicative language ability; however, definitions of grammatical knowledge have remained more or less the same - morphosyntax. Also, within these expanded models, more detailed specifications are needed for how grammatical form might inter¬act with grammatical meaning to communicate literal and intended meanings, and how form and meaning relate to the ability to convey pragmatic meanings. If our assessment goal were limited to an under¬standing of how learners have mastered grammatical forms, then the current models of grammatical knowledge would suffice. However, if we hope to understand how learners use grammatical forms as a resource for conveying a variety of meanings in language-acquisition, -assessment and -use situations, as I think we do, then a definition of grammatical knowledge which addresses these other dimensions of grammatical ability is needed. Rea-Dickins' definition of grammar in discussing more specifically how grammatical knowledge might be tested within a communicative framework, Rea-Dickins (1991) defined 'grammar' as the single embodiment of syntax, semantics and pragmatics. She argued against Canale and Swain's (1980) and Bachman's (1990b) multi-componen-tial view of communicative competence on the grounds that componential representations overlook the interdependence and interaction between and among the various components. She further stated that in Canale and Swain's (1980) model, the notion of grammatical competence was limited since it defined grammar as 'structure' on the one hand and as 'structure and semantics' on the other, but ignored the notion of 'structure as pragmatics'. Similarly, she added that in Bachman's (1990b) model, grammar was defined as structure at the sentence level and as cohesion at the suprasentential level, but this model failed to account for the pragmatic dimension of com¬municative grammar. Instead, Rea-Dickins (1991) argued that for grammar to be truly 'communicative', it had to 'allow for the processing of semantically acceptable syntactic forms, which are in turn governed by pragmatic principles' (p. 114), and not be solely an embodiment of morphosyntax. Although Rea-Dickins' emphasis on grammar as pragmatics offers an important perspective, her view of 'communicative grammar' is contro-versial. First, neither Canale nor Swain (1980) nor Bachman (1990b) left pragmatics 'unspecified'. Rather, they saw it as a separate component of language ability in which all components were hypothesized to interact. More importantly, Rea-Dickins' conceptualization of 'communicative grammar' failed to distinguish between grammar and language. In her model, grammar constitutes one unifying linguistic representation that encodes three dimensions, similar to Oiller (1979). However, if grammar encompasses syntax, semantics and pragmatics, what then is language? Empirical studies on the nature of language proficiency have repeatedly found that language proficiency consists of several distinct, but related components (Bachman and Palmer, 1982). In other words, a test-taker can have different levels of knowledge when it comes to syntax, semantics and pragmatics, such that he or she may be able to express an idea with perfect syntax, but in a totally inappropriate or unintelligible way. The question here, then, relates to naming and definition, which according to Davies (1991: 136-149) is not trivial, as this may have serious implications in the design of tests and the application of test results to teaching and learning. In short, it is better to define the domain of grammatical knowledge so that it can be distinguished from the domains of semantic and pragmatic knowledge, while at the same time, the obvious interrelationships can be recognized. Finally, the fact that even though two components of language ability may be highly correlated, this does not necessarily mean they are identical or they can be combined. In the end, score-based information on both may be useful. Rea-Dickins (1991) further stated that the goal of communicative grammar tests is to provide an 'opportunity for the test-taker to create his or her own message and to produce grammatical responses as appropriate to a given context' (p. 125). This underscores the notion that pragmatic appropriateness or acceptability can add a crucial dimension to commu-nication, and must not be ignored. However, that com¬munication can occur on a literal level and, at the same time, on a number of pragmatic levels. In fact, all language teachers are keenly aware that literal meanings can be conveyed in a given context through grammatical forms with a total lack of appropriateness and with no awareness of the range of pragmatic inferences that might be ascribed to their utterances. Consequently, the position taken in this study is that the essence of com¬munication is the expression of a speaker's literal and intentional mean¬ings through grammatical forms. Once expressed, these propositions are then ratified by an interlocutor's understanding of the message, and com¬munication ensues. If the message is not understood as intended, the message can be repaired or misunderstandings can persist. When other implied interpersonal, sociocultural, sociolinguistic, psychological or rhetorical meanings are extrapolated from grammatical forms and mean¬ings, we have moved out of the domain of grammatical knowledge and into the domain of pragmatic knowledge - both components constitute com¬municative language ability. Nonetheless, Rea-Dickins' emphasis on grammar as pragmatics correctly reminds us of the close relationship among grammar, semantics and pragmatics. She also reminds us that the distinctions between these levels are at times fuzzy at best. Larsen-Freeman's definition of grammar Another conceptualization of grammar that merits attention is Larsen-Freeman's (1991, 1997: 141-165) framework for the teaching of grammar in communicative language teaching contexts. Drawing on several linguistic theories and influenced by language teaching pedagogy, she has also characterized grammatical knowledge along three dimensions: linguistic form, semantic meaning and pragmatic use. Form is defined as both morphology, or how words are formed, and syntactic patterns, or how words are strung together. This dimension is primarily concerned with linguistic accuracy. The meaning dimension describes the inherent or literal message conveyed by a lexical item or a lexico-grammatical feature. This dimension is mainly concerned with the meaningfulness of an utterance. The use dimension refers to the lexico-grammatical choices a learner makes to communicate appropriately within a specific context. Pragmatic use describes when and why one linguistic feature is used in a given context instead of another, especially when the two choices convey a similar literal meaning. In this respect, pragmatic use is said to embody presuppositions about situational context, linguistic context, discourse context, and sociocultural context. This dimension is mainly concerned with making the right choice of forms in order to convey an appropriate message for the context. According to Larsen-Freeman (1991: 279- 296), these three dimensions may be viewed as independent or interconnected. For example, a linguistic form such as the articles in English displays a syntactic, semantic and prag¬matic dimension, even though, perhaps in the classroom, it might be necessary to focus more on the pragmatic aspect, which can pose the greatest challenge to learners. While Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999) admit that the boundaries among the dimensions are not always distinct, they argue that this framework can be useful in determining how to specify grammatical content for instruction. Although Larsen-Freeman's (1991) depiction is helpful in many ways, from an assessment perspective, the notion of pragmatic choice presents an interesting chal¬lenge. When a student produces a correct sentence on a test, we might assume that she is choosing from several possible alternatives that she knows and has chosen the one that she feels is accurate, meaningful and appropriate for the context. Unfortunately, we often have no data to examine the alternatives that she has not chosen to produce. In fact, it may be that the student knows only one way of expressing the message. In sum, the models proposed by Canale and Swain (1980) and Bachman and Palmer (1996) on the one hand, and those proposed by Rea-Dickins (1991) and Larsen-Freeman (1997) on the other are similar in many respects. Both groups deal with linguistic form, semantic meaning and pragmatic use on some level. Certainly, Larsen-Freeman's model is the most explicit in describing how a single linguistic form can encode different meanings. It is simple and it is intuitive, but in her view and in that proposed by Rea-Dickins (1991), grammar is, in essence, co¬terminous with language. I believe, however, that there is a fundamental difference in how grammatical forms and meanings are used to evoke literal and intended messages, and then how they are used to convey implied meanings that require pragmatic inference. For example, I may understand the literal meaning of a joke, but may completely fail to see the double meaning (pragmatic inference) that makes it funny. To view all three components as 'grammar' is misleading. If these dimensions constitute 'grammar', what then is 'language'? Nonetheless, it’s agreed that the boundaries among the three components, with certain forms, are at times blurred. From both an instructional and an assessment perspective, there are times, especially for beginning and intermediate learners, when we might only expect students to demonstrate their ability to use correct forms to express fairly transparent, literal meanings in a given context. For example, we might expect a beginning student to say or understand: 'Close the window' (literal meaning embodying a context-transparent directive), whereas we might expect this learner to understand, but perhaps not say: 'It feels like winter', meaning 'Close the window.' In this case, the relationship between the words used and the intended meaning was indirect and highly dependent upon contextual clues. To expect learners to use a broad range of linguistic devices to express contextual subtleties of meaning with native-like appropriateness at lower profi¬ciency levels may be beyond their capability, especially when the subtle¬ties relate to complex interpersonal, sociolinguistic, sociocultural, psychological, or rhetorical nuances. For this reason, gram¬matical knowledge and pragmatic knowledge will treated as separate components of language ability, knowing full well that in order to communicate certain meanings; these two components are inextricably related. Grammar for assessment purposes Now with a better understanding of how grammar has been conceptual¬ized in models of language ability, how might we define 'grammar' for assessment purposes? It should be obvious from the previous discussion that there is no one 'right' way to define grammar. In one testing situation the assessment goal might be to obtain information on students' knowledge of linguistic forms in minimally contextualized sentences, while in another, it might be to determine how well learners can use linguistic forms to express a wide range of communicative meanings. Regardless of the assessment purpose, if we wish to make inferences about grammati¬cal ability on the basis of a grammar test or some other form of assess¬ment, it is important to know what we mean by 'grammar' when attempting to specify components of grammatical knowledge for meas¬urement purposes. With this goal in mind, we need a definition of gram¬matical knowledge that is broad enough to provide a theoretical basis for the construction and validation of tests in a number of contexts. At the same time, we need our definition to be precise enough to distinguish it from other areas of language ability. From a theoretical perspective, the main goal of language use is com¬munication, whether it is used to transmit information, to perform transactions, to establish and maintain social relations, to construct one's identity or to communicate one's intentions, attitudes or hypotheses. Language knowledge Being the primary resource for communication, language knowledge consists of grammatical knowledge and pragmatic knowledge. Theoretical definition of language knowledge consists of two distinct, but related, components. These components refer to grammatical knowledge and pragmatic knowledge. Bellow, is a discussion of grammatical knowledge in terms of gram¬matical forms and grammatical meanings (both literal and intended) at the sentential and suprasentential levels. I will then discuss pragmatic knowledge in terms of how grammatical forms and meanings can use context to extend the meaning of an utterance. Grammatical knowledge embodies two highly related components: grammatical form and grammatical meaning. I will use the term gram¬matical form to refer to linguistic forms on the sub sentential, sentential and suprasentential levels, as described in the syntactocentric approaches to language discussed previously. Grammatical form includes a host of forms, for example, on the phonological, lexical, Morphosyntatic, cohesive, information management, and interactional levels. Knowledge of grammatical form, therefore, refers to the knowl¬edge of one or more of these linguistic forms. Grammatical meaning is sometimes used to refer to the literal meaning expressed by sounds, words, phrases and sentences, where the meaning of an utterance is derived from its component parts or the ways in which these parts are ordered in syntactic structure. Some linguists have referred to this as semantic meaning, utterance meaning or the compositionality of an utterance (Jaszczolt, 2002). Others (e.g., Grice, 1957: 53-59, Levinson, 1983) have referred to it as literal meaning, sentence meaning or conventional meaning. 1n this study we will refer to this as literal meaning. Although literal meaning allows us to identify what is said by a speaker, Jaszczolt (2002) notes that some utterances may not be sufficiently infor¬mative for the speaker's meaning to be fully conveyed (p. 54). In these cases, we must resort to contextual clues, including the speaker's inten¬tions, to interpret the meaning of an utterance in relation to a real or pos¬sible situation. For example, in a story about painting, ladders and buckets, if someone says, 'she kicked the bucket', this could be taken lit¬erally to meanan action that might result in the paint spilling or it could be taken idiomatically to mean that she died. Therefore, in addition to literal meaning, grammatical meaning encodes the meaning associated with the propositional intention that the speaker has in mind while con¬veying a message. Some linguists have referred to this as speaker meaning, conveyed meaning A theoretical definition of grammar and pragmatics elocutionary meaning, communicative intent, or propositional intentwouldbe referring to it as intended meaning. To summarize, knowledge of grammatical meaning refers to knowledge of the meaning associated with an utterance as the sum of its parts and how these parts are arranged in syntax (literal meaning), as well as how these parts are used to convey the speaker's intended meaning in context (intended meaning). It's believed that the literal meaning of an utterance and its intended meaning cannot be separated when a speaker is trying to communicate a proposition in context. Also, more importantly, the literal meaning of a sentence, while informative, may prove rather useless when a speaker's intended meaning of that same utterance differs widely from the literal meaning. Therefore, it is important to include both literal and intended meaning in a definition of grammatical meaning if we wish to account for meaning in both context-impoverished (e.g., multiple-choice tasks) and context-rich (e.g., problem-solving tasks) testing situations. Finally, I acknowledge that the inclusion of speakerintention along with literal meaning in a definition of grammatical meaning might blur the traditional lines among grammatical, semantic and pragmatic meaning; however, my intention is to construct a view of grammatical meaning for assessment purposes, where the unit of analysis is the utterance, said as intended. This is notably a muchbroader depiction of grammar than has been traditional in applied linguistics. Since meaning is a critical component in the assessment of grammati¬cal knowledge, let us examine this notion in much greater detail. Gram¬matical meaning refers to instances of language use in which what is said is what is meant literally and is closely related to what the speaker intends to communicate. First, the notion of' conveying literal meaning' is impor¬tant since in many cases, the primary assessment goal is to determine if learners are able to use forms to get their basic point across accurately and meaningfully. This is especially true for test-takers who need to express literal meaning in a particular situation or who, due to the decon-textualized nature of the task or their level of proficiency, are able to express only literal meaning. This depiction of grammatical meaning allows us to identify and assess individual forms and their literal mean¬ings, especially in contexts where the characteristics of the communica¬tive event are either reduced or unknown (e.g., a fill-in-the-blank or a complete-the-sentence task). Secondly, the notion of 'conveying the speaker's intended meaning' is also important, since, as we will see, the literal meaning of an utterance can be used by a speaker in a given context to convey an intention that is different from what the literal meaning might suggest. Therefore, this definition of grammatical meaning allows us also to assess both literal and intended meanings, where the character¬istics of the communicative event are rich or impoverished. In rich com¬municative contexts, the range of meanings associated with grammatical forms is much broader than in impoverished communicative contexts, and the probability of meaning extension or even the probability of multi¬ple meanings occurring simultaneously is much greater, as we will see. However, in addition to the words arranged in syntactic structure, the form-meaning relationship of an utterance is also determined by the speaker's intention or elocutionary meaning (Searle, 1975), and to some degree by information in the context that exists beyond what can be derived from the words alone. For example, in the context of a father talking to his daughter about her room, the literal meaning ('Clean up your room') and the father's intended meaning in this context ('Clean up your room') are the same. Intended meaning is derived primarily from the speaker's communicative intention and from the forms used to express this intention. Thus, every utterance expressed in context encodes both literal and intended meaning. Sometimes literal and intended meanings are similar, other times, they are different. Out of context, the literal meaning of an utterance can evoke one or more possible language functions. The speaker's intended meaning in context, however, is usually associated with one primary function. The language function associated with intended meaning. Thus, the functions associated with both literal and intended meaning in this example are similar. In order to assess the meaning of grammatical forms expressed in context, grammatical meaning thus embodies the literal and intended meanings of the utterance and the language functions asso¬ciated with these meanings. In addition to the intended meaning of an utterance and the function associated with that meaning, an utterance may simultaneously encode other layers of pragmatic meaning (e.g., sociolinguistic meaning, socio-cultural meaning) in a given context. These extensions of meaning are derived primarily from context and may be intentional or unintentional on the part of the speaker. They are highly dependent upon an understanding of the shared norms, assumptions, expectations and presuppositions of the interlocu¬tors in the communicative context. Thus, while grammatical meaning is defined as the literal and intended meanings of an utterance along with the function, pragmatic meaning is defined in terms of the other implied meanings (e.g., sociolinguistic, sociocultural) that an utterance can encode. This is not the case when the intended meaning of a speaker's utterance is derived more from the infor¬mation in the context than from the actual wordsused in the utterance. If so, communication transpires smoothly; if not, a complex nego¬tiation of grammatical and pragmatic meanings by the interlocutors is entertained. For assessment purposes, the addition of an interlocutor, while authentic, significantly complicates the measurement of meaning. Therefore, while the relationship between form, meaning and function is still relatively direct. According to Hatch (1992), the degree of directness seems to be in direct relation to the degree to which we expect that a person will comply with a request we have made. In other words, as the risk of refusal increases, so does the indirectness of the request. According to Hatch (1992), the degree of directness seems to be in direct relation to the degree to which we expect that a person will comply with a request we have made. In other words, as the risk of refusal increases, so does the indirectness of the request. Also, the relationship between literal and intended meaning is increasingly less direct. Nonetheless, it is still possible, for the most part, to derive the intended meaning of the utterance principally from the words expressed. The contextual contribution to meaning is minimal. Now it could be said that a relatively good illustration of how grammatical meaning, when assessed explicitly in language tests, has been conceptualized. In other words, grammatical meaning is assessed in terms of the degree to which test-takers are able to use linguistic resources to convey literal and intended meanings, predominantly when the relationships between form and literal and intended meanings, along with their associated functions, are relatively direct, and minimally dependent upon context. In some language tests, grammatical meaning has been characterized in terms of the communicative success or effec¬tiveness of test-takers to complete some task - in other words, their ability to get their point across effectively. Restricting the measurement of meaning in terms of form-meaning directness provides testers with the advantage of having control over responses. However, communica¬tion is also full of instances of language use where the relationships between form, meaning and function are indirect. In these instances, a more complete depiction of grammatical meaning might be useful for the assessment of grammatical ability. To recap, grammatical meaning embodies the literal and intended meanings of an utterance derived both from the meaning of the words arranged in syntax and the way in which the words are used to convey the speaker's intention. Phonological meaning, lexical meaning and the Morphosyntatic meaning of an utterance are all components of gram¬matical meaning. The current depiction of grammatical knowledge involves grammatical forms together with the literal and intended mean-ings they encode as well as the language functions they are used to express. Pragmatic meaning embodies a host of other implied meanings that derive from context relating to the interpersonal relationship of the interlocutors, their emotional or attitudinal stance, their presuppositions about what is known and the sociocultural setting of the interaction. These meanings occur simultaneously. Sometimes they are intentional and sometime not. In short, pragmatics refers to a domain of extended meanings which are superimposed upon forms in association with the literal and intended meanings of an utterance. The source of pragmatic meanings may be contextual, sociolinguistic, socio-cultural, psychological or rhetorical. Grammar in this research, therefore, encompasses grammatical forms and grammatical meanings (literal and intended), but views pragmatics as separate. For the purpose of assessing grammatical ability, it is important, to the extent possible, to keep what is 'grammatical' distinct from what is 'pragmatic', so that inferences about grammatical ability can be made. To summarize, pragmatics refers not so much to the literal meaning of the utterance (What did you say?) or to the intended meaning (What did you want to say?), but to the implied or pragmatic meaning of the utter¬ance interpreted by another person (What did you mean by that?). It can also refer to the relative appropriateness of the utterance within a given context (Why did you say it that way in this context?), to the relative accept¬ability of the utterance within the general norms of interaction (Is it OK to say that?), or to the naturalness of the utterance in terms of how native speakers might say it (Does this sound like something native speakers would say?). Finally, pragmatics refers to the conventionality of the utter¬ance in terms of how speakers from a certain regional or social language variety might express it (Does it sound like something that someone from my social or regional dialect would say?). The determination of what is meaningful or pragmatically appropriate, acceptable, natural or conven¬tional depends on the underlying contextual, sociocultural, sociolinguist-tic, psychological or rhetorical norms, assumptions, expectations and presuppositions of the interlocutors in a given situation. Grammar used beyond the sentence level. As seen in Halliday (1994) and Halliday and Hasan (1976), grammar also encompasses grammatical form and meaning at the suprasentential or discourse level. Grammatical Ability The role of grammar in models of communicative competence showed how a more detailed depiction of grammar was needed in order to assess how learners use grammatical forms as a resource for conveying a variety of meanings. It was argued that language consists of grammar and pragmatics, and these two components should be clearly differentiated. Having described how grammar has been conceptualized, we are now faced with the challenge of defining what it means to 'know' the grammar of a language so that it can be used to achieve some communicative goal. In other words, what does it mean to have 'grammatical ability'? Subjects One hundred students were randomly chosen from the forth year, department of English at the education programme, Open University of Sudan to represent the original population in this study. The subjects have had an average of ten years of formal instruction in English as a FL at school and university. So the selected group is homogeneous with the respect to educational level and linguistic background. Out of 150 students 30 students were randomly chosen as subjects for the pilot study. They were excluded from taking the main test. This leaves 120 males and females to constitute the main simple random sample in this study. These subjects were given a test of thirteen questions that covered three language communicative functions in different grammatical structures. Test Analysis 1. “Why don't we go shopping today?” Suggestion Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 95 79% Wrong answers 25 21% Total 120 100% Table 1: The distribution of frequencies expressing ‘suggestion’. Figure 1: The distribution of frequencies expressing ‘suggestion’. Descriptive statistical analysis of the data in table and figure 1 in response to test question 1, the data shows that the correct answers frequencies of the students are 95 out of 120, which represented 79% whereas the wrong answers frequencies are 25 that represented 21%. These percentages were obtained when the students tried to express ‘suggestion’ in “Why don't we go shopping today?” and the options given were: (Blame – obligation – suggestion – asking for opinion - displeasure).’. Table 2: The distribution of frequencies of expressing a request. Figure 2: The distribution of frequencies of expressing a request. Table and figure number 2 revealed the occurrence of frequencies of the correct and the wrong answers referred to the language communicative ability of the respondents' skill at selecting the option which was appropriate for expressing a request from these given options: “ Advice – blame – request - approval – agreement” in this question ‘Would you mind helping me?’ the occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was105 out of 120, which was 88%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 15 out of 120, which was 12%. The results obtained in table and figure 2 indicate sociolinguistic ability that refers to the respondents' skill at selecting appropriate option to express the particular strategy used to realize language communicative in the specification of the objective of a request. As well they indicate sociolinguistic ability is the students' control over the actual language forms used to realize the language function, as well as their control over register or formality of the utterance from most intimate to most formal language. 3. I couldn't agree more. Agreement Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 38 32% Wrong answers 82 68% Total 120 100% Table 3: The distribution of frequencies of expressing agreement Figure3: The distribution of frequencies of expressing agreement The students were given these options: ‘Advice – blame – request - approval – agreement’ to choose the correct one for this statement: “I couldn’t agree with you”. The statistical analysis of the data in table & figure 3 revealed that students performance when expressing an agreement was really disastrous. The occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was 38 out of 120 that represented 32%, whereas the occurrence of the wrong answers was 82 out of 120 that represented 68%. It is worth mentioning that there seems to be an emerging agreement that the communicative language ability is multicomponential, and it includes more than grammatical knowledge. Definitions of communicative competence minimally tend to include a code component, describing a language learner’s procedural and declarative knowledge of the rules of syntax, semantics, morphology, and phonology [; and] a use component, describing a language learner’s knowledge of the social norms governing language use and the assignment of linguistic options to speech intentions for production and comprehension. So, developing the area of expressing an approval should be highly commented. 4. You can't enter the hall. Young people are not allowed in. Prohibition Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 101 84% Wrong answers 19 16% Total 120 100% Table 4: The distribution of frequencies of expressing prohibition Figure 4: The distribution of frequencies of expressing prohibition As a common fact that Prohibitions are a kind of obligation, an obligation to not do something, but as drafting considerations for prohibitions are different from those for positive obligations, they are treated separately. In table and figure 4 the students were examined in one structure of prohibitive in English. Their performance as indicated by the statistical analysis in table & figure 4 revealed that the occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was101 out of 120 that represented 84%, whereas the occurrence of the wrong answers was 19 out of 120 that represented 16%. The same results were obtained by the students in table 40 ‘prohibition’, though the structures given in these tables were different. This point indicates that they are aware of the grammatical and pragmatic knowledge when expressing the same idea with different structures. 5. That's a good idea. Agreement Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 9 8% Wrong answers 111 92% Total 120 100% Table 5: The distribution of frequencies of expressing agreement Figure 5: The distribution of frequencies of expressing agreement In the table and figure 5 there was something extraordinary concerning the results obtained by the students. The statistical analysis of the occurrence of frequencies for the correct and wrong answers was totally changed upside down. The occurrence of the correct answers was only 9 out of 120 of a percentage of 8%, and the occurrence of the wrong answers was 111 out of 120 of a percentage 92%. These results were obtained when students were ask to choose the correct option from the coming series of options: ‘Suggestion – agreement – apology – relief – prohibition’ to this statement “That's a good idea.”. That option was ‘agreement’. This result should be highly commented in the chapter. 6. Why not play together? Suggestion Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 17 %14 Wrong answers 103 %86 Total 120 %100 Table: 6 The distribution of frequencies of expressing suggestion. Figure: 6 The distribution of frequencies of expressing suggestion In table and figure 6 the students were given this list of options: ‘Suggestion – agreement – apology – relief – prohibition’ to choose the correct option for this expression: “Why not play together”. The correct answer was ‘suggestion’. The analysis of the results obtained by the students indicated that the frequencies of occurrence of the correct answer was only 17 out of 120 of a percentage of 14%, whereas the frequencies of the wrong answers was 103 out of 120 of a percentage of 86%. It is worth mentioning the students obtained 79% when they were asked about the same language communicative function ‘suggestion’ in table and figure 1. This issue should be discussed in the coming chapter. 7. Table 7: The distribution of frequencies of expressing a request. Figure 7: The distribution of frequencies of expressing a request. Table and figure number 7 revealed the occurrence of frequencies of the correct and the wrong answers referred to the language communicative ability of the respondents' skill at selecting the option which was appropriate for expressing a request from these given options: “ Advice – blame – request - approval – agreement” in this question ‘Would you mind helping me?’ the occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was105 out of 120, which was 88%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 15 out of 120, which was 12%. The results obtained in table and figure 6 indicate sociolinguistic ability that refers to the respondents' skill at selecting appropriate option to express the particular strategy used to realize language communicative in the specification of the objective of a request. As well they indicate sociolinguistic ability is the students' control over the actual language forms used to realize the language function, as well as their control over register or formality of the utterance from most intimate to most formal language. 8. May I have this jacket, please? Request Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 89 74% Wrong answers 31 26% Total 120 100% Table 8: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘request’. Figure 8: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘request’. The statistical analysis of the occurrence of frequencies for the correct and wrong answers in the table and figure 8 revealed that the occurrence of the correct answers was only 89 out of 120 of a percentage of 74%, and the occurrence of the wrong answers was 31 out of 120 of a percentage 26%. These results were obtained when students were asked to choose the correct option from the coming series of options: ‘Request – blame – want – anxiety – release from blame’ to this statement “May I have this jacket, please? ”. That correct option was ‘Request’. 9. It is forbidden to smoke at school. Prohibition Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 100 83% Wrong answers 20 17% Total 120 100% Figure 9: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘prohibition’ Figure 9: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘prohibition’ In table and figure 8 the students were asked to choose the correct option from: ‘Request – prohibition – probability – surprise - suggestion’ to this statement “It is forbidden to smoke at school.” . The correct option in this case is ‘Prohibition’. The distribution of occurrence of frequencies of the correct answer was 100 out of 120 that represented 83%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 20 out of 120 that represented 17%. 10. Have you ever thought of spending some time in Egypt? Suggestion Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 68 57% Wrong answers 52 43% Total 120 100% Table 10: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘suggestion’ Figure 10: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘suggestion’ In the table and figure 10 the statistical analysis of the occurrence of frequencies for the correct answer was 68 out of 120 of a percentage of 57%, and the occurrence of the frequencies of the wrong answers was 52 out of 120 of a percentage 43%. These results were obtained when students were asked to choose the correct option from the coming series of options: ‘Request – prohibition – probability – surprise - suggestion’ to this statement “Have you ever thought of spending some time in Egypt?”. That option was ‘suggestion’. This result should be highly commented in the chapter. 11. I wonder if you could tell the way to the nearest hospital. Request Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 54 45% Wrong answers 66 55% Total 120 100% Table 11: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘request’. Figure 11: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘request’ Descriptive statistical analysis of the data in table and figure 11 in response to test question 35, the data showed that the occurrence of the correct answer frequencies of the students was 54 out of 120, which represented 45% whereas the occurrence of wrong answers frequencies was 66 put of 120 that represented 55%. These percentages were obtained when the students tried to express ‘request’ in “I wonder if you could tell the way to the nearest hospital.” and the options given were: (Request – prohibition – probability – surprise - suggestion). It’s worth mentioning that table and figure number 6 revealed the occurrence of frequencies of the correct and the wrong answers referred to the language communicative ability of the respondents' skill at selecting the option which was appropriate for expressing a request from these given options: “ Advice – blame – request - approval – agreement” in this question ‘Would you mind helping me?’ the occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was105 out of 120, which was 88%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 15 out of 120, which was 12%. The results obtained in table and figure 6 and table & figure 35 indicate the respondents' skill at selecting appropriate option to express the particular strategy used to realize language communicative in the specification of the objective of a request. Having two different results of the same language function is an indication of a severe problem that should be commented in the coming chapter. 12. Let's play chess. Suggestion Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 104 87% Wrong answers 16 13% Total 120 100% Table 12: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘suggestion’ Figure 12: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘suggestion’ Table and figure 12 revealed the performance of the students when expressing suggestion. The statement that used for this expression was: “Let’s play chess.”, and the options given to choose were: ‘Suggestion – responsibility – probability – prohibition – surprise’. The occurrence of frequencies of the right answers was 104 out 120 that represented 87%, whereas the occurrence of the wrong answers was 16 that represented 13%. The same communicative language function was examined with different structures in table and figure 3 “Why do not we go shopping tomorrow?”, table and figure 9 “Have you ever thought of spending some time in Egypt?” . The results obtained were different. 13. Fishing is not permitted here. Prohibition Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 104 87% Wrong answers 16 13% Total 120 100% Table 13: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘prohibition’ Figure 13: The distribution of frequencies of expressing ‘prohibition’ In table and figure 13 the students were asked to choose the correct option from: ‘Suggestion – responsibility – probability – prohibition – surprise’ to this statement “Fishing is not permitted here.”. The correct option in this case is ‘Prohibition’. The distribution of occurrence of frequencies of the correct answer was 104 out of 120 that represented 87%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 16 out of 120 that represented 13%. It was the third time that the students were asked to express ‘prohibition’. As a common fact that Prohibitions are a kind of obligation, an obligation to not do something, but as drafting considerations for prohibitions are different from those for positive obligations, they are treated separately. In table and figure 4 the students were examined in one structure of prohibitive in English. Their performance as indicated by the statistical analysis in table & figure 8 revealed that the occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was101 out of 120 that represented 84%, whereas the occurrence of the wrong answers was 19 out of 120 that represented 16%. In table and figure 8 the students were asked to choose the correct option from: ‘Request – prohibition – probability – surprise - suggestion’ to this statement “It is forbidden to smoke at school.” . The correct option in this case is ‘Prohibition’. The distribution of occurrence of frequencies of the correct answer was 100 out of 120 that represented 83%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 20 out of 120 that represented 17%. In the three cases the results were similar to each other. 14. Would you mind helping me? A request Table 14: The distribution of frequencies of expressing a request. Answers Frequencies Percentage Correct answers 105 88% Wrong answers 15 12% Total 120 100% Figure 14: The distribution of frequencies of expressing a request. Table and figure number 14 revealed the occurrence of frequencies of the correct and the wrong answers referred to the language communicative ability of the respondents' skill at selecting the option which was appropriate for expressing a request from these given options: “ Advice – blame – request - approval – agreement” in this question ‘Would you mind helping me?’ the occurrence of frequencies of the correct answers was105 out of 120, which was 88%, whereas the occurrence of frequencies of the wrong answers was 15 out of 120, which was 12%. The results obtained in table and figure one indicate sociolinguistic ability that refers to the respondents' skill at selecting appropriate option to express the particular strategy used to realize language communicative in the specification of the objective of a request. As well they indicate sociolinguistic ability is the students' control over the actual language forms used to realize the language function, as well as their control over register or formality of the utterance from most intimate to most formal language. Table 15: Suggestion No. Statement Correct answers % 1 Why don’t we go shopping today? 95 79% 6 Why not play together? 17 14% 10 Have you ever thought of spending sometime in Egypt? 68 57% 12 Let’s play chess. 104 87% Expressing ‘suggestion’ in this study was given into four questions: 1, 6, 9, and 11 as in Table 14. The results indicated that from pragmatic knowledge point of view which is defined in terms of functional knowledge and sociolinguistic knowledge that the students are unable to use organizational knowledge to express or interpret lan¬guage functions in communicative settings. On the other hand, in the area of sociolinguistic knowledge that refers to 'how utterances or sentences and texts are related to features of the language use setting' (p. 68) that the students are unable to understand situation-specific language and to tailor language to a partic¬ular language-use setting. Table: three question no.15. Table 16: request No. Statement Correct answers % 2 Would you mind helping me? 105 88% 8 May I have this jacket, please? 89 74% 11 I wonder if you could tell the way to the nearest hospital. 54 47% In table 16 there are four structures about expressing ‘request. Three of these structures are direct structures: questions 2, 8, and 11. One of these questions looks an indirect request, where the students’ results are below the average. This point indicates that the students are unable to use linguistic resources to convey literal and intended meanings. Now it could be said that a relatively good illustration of how grammatical meaning, when assessed explicitly in language tests, has been conceptualized. In other words, grammatical meaning is assessed in terms of the degree to which test-takers are able to use linguistic resources to convey literal and intended meanings, predominantly when the relationships between form and literal and intended meanings, along with their associated functions, are relatively direct, and minimally dependent upon context. Therefore, while the relationship between form, meaning and function is still relatively direct. According to Hatch (1992), the degree of directness seems to be in direct relation to the degree to which we expect that a person will comply with a request we have made. In other words, as the risk of refusal increases, so does the indirectness of the request. Table 17: Agreement No. Statement Correct answers % 3 I couldn’t agree more. 38 32% 5 That’s good idea. 9 8% What was said about the lack of common sense by the students in table 17, can be as well said about table six when students tried to express ‘agreement’. There is a great difference between 38 and 9 even both below standard. One can say that the students are not good at linguistic competence which is the knowledge of a par¬ticular language by virtue of which those who have it are able to produce and understand utterances in that language. If the message is not understood as intended, the message can be repaired or misunderstandings can persist. When other implied interpersonal, sociocultural, sociolinguistic, psychological or rhetorical meanings are extrapolated from grammatical forms and mean¬ings, we have moved out of the domain of grammatical knowledge and into the domain of pragmatic knowledge - both components constitute com¬municative language ability. Table 18: prohibition No. Statement Correct answers % 4 You can’t enter the hall. Young people aren’t allowed in. 101 84% 9 It’s forbidden to smoke at school. 100 83% 13 Fishing is not permitted here! 104 87% The results of the students in table 18 are the same when expressing ‘prohibition’ which are fully grammatical, with appropriate selection of lexis in different contexts of use. This similarity of results has shown that the students can deal with variable forms under different circumstances which may include such parameters as pressure of time and the amount of attention paid to linguistic form. Discussion and Conclusion Hypothesis 1 It is expected that the students are incompetent in using grammar well enough for some real-world purposes. This hypothesis is verified and approved by the researcher mainly when they express these language communicative functions: suggestion, and agreement. Tables 15 & 17. Hypothesis 2 Learners of English at Open University of Sudan need to master grammar perfectly. The researcher comes to an end that indicates that grammar knowledge offers the learner the means for potentially unlimited linguistic creativity. Since grammar is a description of the regularities in language, knowledge of these regularities can function as a machine to generate a potentially enormous number of original sentences. Knowledge on language functions resulting from holophrase memorization and practice has limited use because to a great extent the students finally have to generate their own sentences to accomplish successful communication. In addition to sentence-making machine argument, knowledge of grammar is also important because it can function as an advance organizer. Advance organizer plays a crucial role in the process of acquisition because the learners with grammar knowledge will consciously organize and notice the input exposed to them. This does not happen to the learners with no grammar knowledge. Items being more noticeable seem to stick and, otherwise, will be gone unnoticed. For this reason, it’s confirmed that noticing is prerequisite for acquisition since it can make the exposed input stays better and accelerate the process of acquisition. Conscious grammar knowledge, according to this advocate, not only functions to monitor the speakers own utterances, but also to notice the language input exposed to them. It is widely acknowledged that grammar has played a central role in language teaching. Syllabus design and a wide diversity of approaches to language teaching have relied on this assumption, namely, the fundamental role of grammar in second- or foreign-language learning. In spite of the tremendous impact that recent communicative approaches have had on the way we should tackle language in general, there seems to be a deeply ingrained belief that grammar is, or should be, the teacher’s and learner’s main concern and goal. A lot of second- or foreign-language learners the world over have definitely been exposed to this philosophy of teaching and, notwithstanding the degree of linguistic competence that most of them have attained, it is only when they come in contact with other speakers that the unvarnished truth dawns on them: linguistic competence is only a vehicle for mastering a language. Answers to Research Questions In investigating the research problem, the researcher will try to find answers to the following questions: 1. What exactly does a student need to "know" in terms of grammar to be able to use it well enough for some real-world purpose? In answering question one, the researcher comes at the fact that Sudanese students need to know the informational structures that are built up through experience and stored in long-term memory. Then the mental representation of informational structures related to language. The exact components of language knowledge, like any other construct, need to be defined. Also they need to know the grammatical knowledge which is defined as a set of internalized informational structures related to the theoretical model of grammar. And finally, the students need to know the pragmatic knowledge which is defined in terms of functional knowledge and sociolinguistic knowledge. 2. How are Sudanese students' expressions synthesized into texts? The grammatical structures are enormous. Some have exact parallels in the native language and are easily mastered, other have no such parallel but are easy and single in themselves, while others are totally difficult to group, some have fairly simple form, but may be difficult to learn where to use them and where not to use them, others have relatively easy meanings, but very difficult forms. The performative use of language is an area that many Sudanese students have trouble dealing with. It is because speech acts are generally difficult for L2 learners to realize in terms of grammar and vocabulary, formulas and conventionalized expressions, and sociocultural difference between their L1 and L2, and because in many cases Sudanese students are not taught explicitly in the classroom how to signal their intent in performing an illocutionary act, beyond the semantic meanings of syntactic structures. In teaching, these structures should be considered in both its spoken and written form and meaning and create opportunities for learner to use them in a context and produce meaningful sentence using them in order to avoid the mistakes and errors committed and the week performance in dealing with the structures given in the test in this study. Finally, the results obtained by the students indicate that they lack the ability of synthesizing expressions meaningfully. PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATAION Learners’ mastery of the language communicative ability is affected when language learners are unable to successfully communicate in L2 without cultural knowledge of what is considered appropriate according to a particular context in the target language. A first implication of this study is that attention to language communicative ability is necessary throughout the language learning process. It must be noted that learners cannot be expected to grasp the pragmatic concepts behind grammatical forms based on one class period of explicit instruction. In this case, pragmatic instruction should be given beginning in lower class levels and should continue through advanced courses. Perhaps this aspect of language teaching is overlooked as language instructors seem to emphasize learning advanced grammar forms as the learner progresses to more advanced levels. Instead, instructors should provide learners with pragmatic input. More specific to this study, learners will be able to successfully make a good command of expressing language communicative functions in a way that is considered appropriate in the English language. If instructors want learners to progress to higher levels of language proficiency, attention to linguistic as well as pragmatic forms is necessary. While these implications relate to what occurs within the classroom, a final implication is concerned with the aspect of this study that relates to language acquisition outside of the classroom. If talking to native speakers, and using multimedia in English are considered to be an ideal context for language acquisition, instructors should encourage students by informing them of opportunities and advantages to participating in these programmes. Language Communicative functions have been defined and discussed in many different ways by language scholars of different fields. There is, however, one thing in common that is seen in the writings of all these scholars: linguistic, or grammatical competence, should be considered just one aspect of overall competence an individual has with language. With the change of focus from grammar to communication within linguistic theories, L2 language teachers and researchers, too, have shifted the object of their linguistic analysis accordingly. Although teachers and researchers are aware of the need to improve students’ communicative competence and try out new ideas to contribute to meeting that need, there seems to be still a long way to go. RECOMMENDATIONS In this study, three dimensions were made to add extra communicativeness to the teaching syllabus. They are not new ideas for L2 teaching, but each one of them has a place in Communicative Language Teaching and will help language learners acquire the knowledge of appropriateness in all facets of their target language. Language communicative ability should be assessed along three dimensions: linguistic form, semantic meaning and pragmatic use. Form is defined as both morphology, or how words are formed, and syntactic patterns, or how words are strung together. This dimension is primarily concerned with linguistic accuracy. The meaning dimension describes the inherent or literal message conveyed by a lexical item or a lexico-grammatical feature. This dimension is mainly concerned with the meaningfulness of an utterance. The use dimension refers to the lexico-grammatical choices a learner makes to communicate appropriately within a specific context. Pragmatic use describes when and why one linguistic feature is used in a given context instead of another, especially when the two choices convey a similar literal meaning. In this respect, pragmatic use is said to embody presuppositions about situational context, linguistic context, discourse context, and sociocultural context. This dimension is mainly concerned with making the right choice of forms in order to convey an appropriate message for the context. The conclusion of the study is that the language communicative functions need to be considered in language attitudinal studies. References Bachman, L. E (1988). Language testing - SLA interfaces. In I," F. Bachman and A. Bachman, L. F. (1990b). Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing Oxford: Oxford University Press. 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