Structures refer to the different patterns of arrangement of words. The structural approach to teaching English is based on the belief that the scientific selection and grading of vocabulary and structures is the best way to learn a language. Hornby found out that there are almost 275 structures in English and learners must be able to master them all.
Main Aims of the Structural Approach
The main aims of the structural approach are as follows.
- To enable learners to learn English by establishing through drill and repetition about 275 graded structures.
- To encourage learners to attain mastery over an essential vocabulary of about 3000 root words for active use.
- To correlate the reading lessons with the teaching of grammar and composition.
- To teach the four fundamental skills – understanding, speaking, reading, and writing in this order.
- To emphasize the aural-oral approach, active methods, and the condemnation of formal grammar.
Merits of Structural Approach
- It imparts the knowledge of structures in English to facilitate language learning.
- Students can gain mastery of over 275 basic vocabularies and structures by the time they finish school.
- The child learns word order, use of words, and grammar automatically after learning the structure of sentences.
- It is called ‘English through play way’ because it encourages learners to use English every day.
- It focuses on the basic four language skills – learning, writing, speaking, and reading.
Demerits of Structural Approach
- The problem of teaching English is not solved by the selection and gradation of structures because it only helps the teacher to learn what is taught and what to teach next.
- The continuous teaching of structures can make the class dull, mechanical, and monotonous.
- It may be more suitable for junior classes but not applicable for higher classes with many branches of the English language.
- This approach follows a rigid methodology.
- It is time-consuming and completing the syllabus may be difficult.
According to Shanti Swaroop,
“The special virtue of the structural approach lies in the fact that at every stage the objectives of teaching of learning are very clearly defined and are attainable, producing a delightful sense of mastery and confidence.”