What is the language? What does it mean to learn a language? What does one learn when s/he learns language? Questions such as these led to different views and theories of language. In the past century, language teaching and learning practices have been influenced by three different views of language, namely, the structural views, the functional view and interactional view. Different views on language generate different teaching methodologies.
The Structural View
This view sees language as a linguistic system made up of various subsystems, such as phonological units [e.g., phonemes], grammatical units [e.g., phrases, clauses, sentences], grammatical operations [e. g., joining or transforming elements], and lexical items [e. g., function words and content words]. Each language means to learn these structural items. To learn a language means to learn these structural items so as to be able to understands and product language.
The Audiolingual Method and Total Physical Response embody this particular view of language [Richards and Rodgers,2001].
The Functional View
This view sees language not only as a linguistic system but also as a means of doing things. That is, according to this view,"language is a vehicle for the expression of functional meaning"[ibid, p.21].Most of our day-to-day language use involves functional activities: inviting, making an appointment, asking for directions,suggesting, disagreeing,advising, apologizing, etc. Therefore, learners learn a language in order to do things with it.To perform functions, learners need to known how to combine the grammatical rules and the vocabulary to express notione that perform the functions.The communicative movement in language teaching as well as the movement in English in specific purpose has it's genesis in the functional view of language.