Understanding a child’s language behaviour: Luca’s language performance vs. language competence
Language acquisition in a bilingual setting in children and metalinguistic awareness in children
The terms language competence and language performance can be helpful for educators to shed light on the level of proficiency in a child and open up ways of assisting and supporting the child in her current phase of language acquisition (Chomsky, 1980).
Luca’s language competence
This term describes Luca’s abstract knowledge of the language. So how much Luca “knows” about a language. In other words, it refers to mental representations of a language in Luca’s mind or internalised structures of a language which Luca is familiar with. Luca "knows" certain sounds, rules or meanings in a language. But it does not mean that Luca can actively use this knowledge for language production which is important to take into account when working with Luca in an institutional context.
Luca’s language performance
This term describes Luca’s ability to apply the acquired knowledge of a language. Luca is able to actively produce language and transfer the mental representations into actual sounds, grammatically governed words and sentences. She is able to communicate in this language.