What is situational approach in language teaching

The term ‘situation’ or ‘situational’ was an interesting innovation in the Structural-Situational approach. It did not refer to the use of language in real-life situations but to the structural drills in which concrete objects, pictures and regalia accompanied by actions and gestures were used to demonstrate the meanings. It was here that the approach evoked reactions from teachers who had to. carry a lot of things to the classroom. Moreover, they could, perhaps, find it easy to demonstrate concrete objects but found it difficult to make abstraction understood by the learner. Naturally, they found the use of the mother tongue a very easy way of bringing home the meaning to the learner.

Furthermore, the approach was found to be suitable at the elementary levels where a display of objects would prove helpful but at the advanced stages, the demonstrations made the lesson look trivial. For teaching prose, poetry and composition, the approach was found inadequate and ineffective. Also, the very theory of behaviourism on which this approach is based was called into question by the mentalists, especially by Noam Chomsky, who viewed language not as an accumulation of habits but as a mental construct the capacity of which was inborn and innate to all the members of a speech community. This ushered in a new era in language study and the teaching of English could not escape from the impact which resulted in the development of alternative approaches, especially Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

The structural-Situational approach as such did not become a part of our teaching programmes in schools. However, instances of using objects for teaching linguistic items in the class and demonstrating the meaning of, words in classroom situations have not been unfamiliar techniques to our teachers.