Structural, Functional and Interactional Views of Language | Try Dot Fulfill

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Q. Discuss the structural, functional and interactional views of language. How do these views influence language teaching methodology?




Language is seen from structural, functional, and interactional point of views. Educators need to see language from these points of view. If language is thought to be only a system of structures, it would be a partly observation of a language. Language makes sense when it is seen from its structural, functional and interaction perspectives.


Structural aspects of a language discuss how the structural systems of that language work. By general terms, structure means a framework or skeleton of something. Structures of a language are the phonemes, morphemes, words, and sentences. When people use a language, they use all these sub-system to form a structure. However, we cannot learn a language only by learning its structures; we need to learn how those structures make meaning.

See: Structural view, functional view, interactional view - Bangla Lecture.


Semantics study the functional aspect of a language. It studies the meaning making process of the structures. For example,

 'Mustafizur scored SIX wickets while playing 2nd ODI against India in the Bay of Bengal.

This sentence is perfect in terms of structure; however, people will laugh when someone utters this sentence. Using language to serve its functional purpose is very different than its structural aspect. Moreover, people also need to understand the contextual meaning of a language in relation to the place, time and persons involved in the process.


The interactional point of view of language suggests that people use different language based on the context and people. For example, a college student does not use the same vocabulary and structure when she interacts with her friends in a playground and her professors in schools. She uses different vocabulary and structure to interact with different type of people and in different context. This is the interactional part of a language.


These views of language significantly influence language teaching methodology in many ways. Firstly, they help learners realize that only learning the structures of a language would not help them. Learners need to learn the functional and interactional use of that language. It is also noteworthy that all these views are closely linked to each other; each of them is important to learn a language. For example, without structure, we cannot think about specific functional or interactional use of a particular language. Like the foundation of a building, we need structures of a language; then, we can work on the functional and interactional uses of that language.


Secondly, these views give learners opportunities to see the language from different perspectives. They would get the opportunity to understand different functions of the same language at different times and places. Thirdly, they help learners explore a wide variation of using a language. For example, some Bangladeshi English language learners may think that there is only one form or way of greeting.


However, they will understand how the meanings of the same expression vary when they are used at various contexts and times. Language teachers should design their materials, tasks, and activities keeping these issues in their minds.


From: Approaches and Methods of Language Teaching

By Sanjoy Banerjee.

Copyright: FBC publication. (Published with due respect to the writer.)

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