The Structural Approach employs syntax, sentence structures, traditional grammar learning and substitution tables which form the foundation of true English learning.
Syntax is the arrangement of words in a sentence. We learn how to write English sentences correctly when we have truly known the role of the words in sentences by mastering the eight parts of speech. Without a thorough knowledge of the eight parts of speech, one’s grasp of the English language will be superficial.
In addition, grammar should be an aid to composition. Independent learning of English grammar in its entirety is a purely mechanical exercise. If the learning of grammar does not equip a learner with the necessary knowledge and skill to write sentences clearly and correctly, it is an exercise in futility. The Structural Approach helps a learner to master English grammar which will aid him to acquire facility in writing correct sentences.
The study of different sentence structures enables a learner to add variety and freshness in his writing. It also improves his spoken English at the same time.
Substitution Tables place an important part that phrase-patterns and sentence-patterns must conform to correct English usage. Thus, the study of grammar, syntax, sentence structures along with vocabulary is supplemented by the use of correct constructions listed in the Substitution Tables.
In order to enhance the spoken English ability of my trainees, I use substitution tables. Since we speak and write in sentence-patterns, it is only appropriate to introduce these patterns into my English training via substitution tables. The learner is able to gain an easiness of using English by practising these substitution tables habitually. While practising these substitution tables, the sentence-patterns are subconsciously adopted by the student who in turn will demonstrate by speaking correct English in everyday situations. They may not be transformed into Winston Churchills overnight but the foundation necessary for the attainment of good English speech will be laid.
Hence, the study of grammar is given a lot of prominence in the Structural Approach so as to improve one’s transmission skills – speaking and writing. Kill two birds with one stone.
The Structural Approach covers rigidly the study of English and its grammar as tools that enable a foreigner to attain the same proficiency and usage as that of a native English speaker in his country. After the necessary building-blocks to understand and apply English have been mastered, the foreigner is introduced to much higher work which he takes on easily as the basic rudiments have been thoroughly practised. Confidence in using the language in work and social environments becomes a stepping stone for the foreigner to achieve even more in his later life.
Although there are many approaches to teach and learn English in the world today, their effectiveness in delivering the necessary results in the form of proficiency in all the four skills of a language for a learner is very much disputable.
The Structural Approach to teach and learn English, on the other hand, equips a learner in all the four skills of the language – listening, reading, speaking and writing – thoroughly, thereby empowering the learner to achieve the most in his future career.
The effectiveness of the Structural Approach has been proven in the past when it was widely used in English-speaking nations and also in the British colonies.
The Structural Approach to teach and learn English was widely used before 1970 in English-speaking countries and Malaysia. Its efficacy has been proven by the generation who mastered the rudiments of English with less difficulty. As a result, this generation proceeded to make an impact in the respective fields of endeavour. All this was only possible with the help of the tool of expression, the English language. Mastery of the English language through the Structural Approach enabled them to convey to the world their ideas and groundbreaking researches flawlessly. It is not enough for people to be possessed with inquiring minds. The power to express their convictions makes a difference too.
Supplemented by the study of its sentence structures, variety in sentence-building, vocabulary, reading, and the use of Substitution Tables which are only used in the Structural Approach to teach and learn English, a learner will never be hesitant to use the English language clearly, correctly and confidently in his adult life. The learner can easily convey his ideas and feelings to others on what he does for a living. In this globalised era today, English is very much needed to sell products, services or ideas to consumers in the biggest market – the world.