Multicompetence and Second Language Teaching

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K. Philip Choong


The idea of multicompetence as the compound state of a mind with two grammars has many implications for syllabus designers and teachers as envisioned by Vivian Cook (2002). Cook sees L2 users as fundamentally different than monolingual L1 users, and suggests that language teachers should recognize and celebrate this distinction. Too often, he suggests, teachers and SLA researchers regard L2 users as deficient, not merely different, when compared to native speakers. Since L2 users can never become native speakers, comparing them to native speakers sets a standard that is unattainable, and even undesirable. Multicompetent people can do things that no monolingual person can, and knowledge of an L2 not only affects their knowledge of the L1, but also enhances other perceptions and abilities as well. This paper will review some of the pedagogical implications of multicompetence as described by Cook (1999, 2002).

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