An important approach of teaching or learning a language is the structural method. This method is understood as a technique to fully understand and learn the sentence patterns. As the name suggests, this approach focuses on the structural arrangements of the sentences whereby words are arranged in particular accepted styles. This method is based on the opinion that it is imperative to understand the structures of the language. Understanding the complexities of the structures of the sentences in a language is more important than learning the vocabulary of the language. To make this method work, it is important for the teachers to select the structures that are to be taught. This selection is based on many factors including usefulness, productivity, learnability etc.
There are a few main features of the structural approach. Word order, usage of function words and usage of inflections are some of those features. The principle of this method is a primary emphasis on understanding the structures fully. Since the focus is on the structures, one structure has to be taught one at a time. This is to make it easier for the students. This is also because the structure of the language is its primary basis. Any error can lead to difficulties in mastering the language.
The structural method could be used for speech, reading and writing in the target language. However, the structural approach stresses on the speech more than reading and writing. This approach attaches more importance to the pupil’s activity than that of the teacher’s. This approach is understood as a way to learn language through its use which is usually accompanied by some kind of activity. One of the ways the structural approach is used by creation of situations. Dramatization, facial expression and actions are all ways to make it easy for the student to learn the language.