Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Developmental Process of Verbal Communicative Competence in a Foreign Language: From the Perspective of Personal Experience Theory Add Dissertation
Author: Zhongxin Dai Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Beijing Normal University, Department of Foreign Languages
Completed in: 2004
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics;
Director(s): Dina Pei

Abstract: The author explores the core issue in the research of FL learning and teaching: the developmental process of verbal communicative competence in a foreign language (DPVCCFL), which has not been systematically revealed and explained. After he presents a new theory, termed “the theory of personal experience (PE)”, the author explores how the mechanisms of verbal communication (VC), which is based on PE, generate verbal communicative competence in one’s native language (VCCNL), and how verbal communicative competence in a foreign language (VCCFL) is developed on the basis of PE and the VCCNL mechanisms.

PE refers to whatever a person, who is in a certain situation and condition and posses certain physical and mental capabilities, acquires through his interaction with the outside world (natural and social-cultural). Native language experience (NLE) and foreign language experience (FLE) are inseparable parts of PE, but identified and separated from PE solely for the sake of research needs. The theory of PE hypothesizes that all PE possesses the same nature, operates and grows in the same manner. PE is characterized by its uniqueness, organic operation, interaction and continuum. PE grows in a modular manner, which means that prior experience affects subsequent similar experience. PE has two main working mechanisms: the metaphysical mechanism and the associative mechanism. The former refers to the mechanism of transcending concrete experience to affect subsequent new experience, and the latter the mechanism of various associations among elements in PE, and among mental and psychological processes. The sequence of PE, NLE and FLE implies that FLE is based on the prior two factors and that its growth is affected accordingly.

VCCFL is the capability one demonstrates in the process of their social communication in FL. As the FL learner’s PE and his mechanism of VC are what he only possesses, DPVCCFL depends on nothing but them. The intrinsic associations between PE, VC in native language (NL) and VC in FL are the key issues in the understanding of VC and VCCFL. VC in FL takes over the mechanisms of VC in NL, which is based on PE. After a careful study of VC, the author has found that the mechanism that facilitates the development of verbal communicative competence (VCC) is the associative mechanism that operates between the communicative idea (CI) and the verbal expression (VE), which are heterogeneous in nature. As social communication, VC is composed of two heterogeneous processes, one being responsible for the generation or inference of CI, and the other for production or perception of VE. The former (ideas or feelings in nature, i.e. non-verbal) stems from PE and the latter (verbal in nature) originates in language experience. VE that is being produced or perceived consists of both verbal form (VF) and verbal meaning (VM). The heterogeneous association of CI and VE in the two processes is done by means of VM, which is associated with communicative meaning image (CMI, which is the literal meaning that the speaker intends to express in VC) at one end and with VF at the other. The automatic mechanisms of associations that are to be established between them are of great significance in the development of VCC, and the intelligent automation of the associative mechanisms can only be achieved through frequency effects. VCC comprises competencies of PE, CI, CMI, VF, VM and fluency. The author also investigates the origins of the heterogeneous VC mechanisms in human evolution.