In the words of Menon and Patel: “The structural approach is based on the belief that in the learning of a foreign language, mastery of structures is more important than the acquisition of vocabulary.” This approach employs techniques of the direct method of teaching but the use of translation is not wholly discarded.
Teaching is done in the situation. Speeches urge giving stress but reading and writing are not neglected. The structural approach is essentially what the term implies-an approach and not a method as such. There is scope for limitless experimentation in imaginative methods for the classroom.
Professor C.S. Bhandari has rightly remarked: “It is not proper and correct to call the structural approach method of teaching. It is not a method in approach. Any method can be used with it.”
The following are the aspects of structural approach:
(i) Word order:
Word order is of primary importance in learning English language. It is the order of words in a pattern that makes true meaning clear.
(ii) Presence of function words:
The structural approach makes use of another important principle. This is the essential use of function words or “structural words.”
(iii) Use of small number of inflections:
One of the important characteristics of English language is that it makes use of the small number of inflections.
(iv) Forming language habits:
The structural approach gives due importance to forming language habits. The learner should acquire the habits of arranging words in English is standard sentence patterns through language drills.
(v) Importance of speech:
The structural approach regards speech as more important than reading and writing.
(vi) Importance of pupil’s activity:
The structural approach puts more emphasis on pupil’s activity than on the teachers. It is the child who is the learner. So he must be actively involved in the teaching-learning process.
From the above discussion, it can be said that speech and oral work are the core of the structural approach. Oral work, in fact, is the sheet anchor of the approach. F.G. French observes that “Oral work is the basis and all the rest are built on it.” Through speech pupil learns to make direct connection between the English words or phases and the object, action or idea, it hears. He learns the habit of using words in the correct sentence patterns and he can learn this in no other way.