Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Theories: The Silent Way

Although people did learn languages through the Audio-Lingual Method, one problem with it was students' inability, to transfer the habits they had mastered in the  classroom to communicative use outside it.

Dr. Caleb Gattegno, originally out of Alexandria, Egypt, introduced this classroom technique wherein the teacher remains silent while students output the language on cue through perpetual prompting. The greatest strength of this method lies in its ability to draw students out orally, while the teacher "takes a back seat". This method works, most effectively with round tables being used to promote small group discussion and for full student rotation. The Silent Way truly gives students a spoken facility.


This method begins by using a set of coloured rods, and verbal commands in order bo achieve the following:
  1. To avoid the use of the dialect
  2. To create simple linguistic situations that remain under the complete control of the teacher.
  3. To pass on to the learners the responsibility for the utterances of the description of the objects shown or the actions performed.
  4. To let the teacher concentrate on what the students say and how they are saying drawing their attention to the differences in pronunciation and the flow of words.
  5. To generate a serious game-like situation in which the rules are implicitly agreed upon by giving meaning to the gestures of the teacher and his mime.
  6. To permit almost from the start a switch from the lone voice of the teacher using the foreign language to a number of voices using it This introduces components of pitch, timbre and intensity that will constantly reduce the impact of one voice and hence reduce imitation and encourage personal production of one's own brand of the sounds.
  7. To provide the support of perception and action to the intellectual guess of what the noises mean, thus bring in the store of the usual criteria of experience already developed and automatic in one's use of the mother tongue.

The complete set of materials utilized as the language learning progresses include:
A set of coloured wooden rods A set of wall charts containing words of a "functional” vocabulary and some additional ones; a pointer for use with the charts in Visual Dictation A colour coded phonic chart(s) Tapes or discs, as required; films Drawings and pictures, and a set of accompanying worksheets Transparencies, three texts, a Book of Stories, worksheets

The Principles of the Silent Approach:

1. What are the goals of teachers who use the Audio-Lingual Method?
Students should be able to use the language for self-expression to express their thought, perceptions, and feelings. In order to do this, they need to develop independence from the teacher, to develop their own inner criteria for correctness. Students become independent by relying on themselves. The teacher, therefore, should give them only what they absolutely need to promote their learning.

2. What is the role of the teachers? What is the role of the students?
The teacher is a technician or engineer. Only the learner can do the learning, but the teacher, relying on what his stuoents already know, can give help is necessary, focus the students' perception. The Role of the students is to make use of what they know, to free themselves of any obstacles that would interfere with giving their utmost attention to the learning task.

3. What are some characteristics of the teaching/ learning process?
Students begin their study of the language through its basic building blocks, its sounds. The teacher sets up situations that focus, student attention on tfte structures, of the language, The situations, typically involve only one structure at a time. The students receive a great deal of practice with a given target language structure without repletion for its own sake.

4. What is the nature of students- teacher interaction? What is the nature of student-student interaction?
Though the teacher is silent, he/ she is still very active, however, setting up situations to force awareness, listening attentively to students' speech, and silently work with them on their production through the use of nonverbal gestures and the tolls he has available. Student-student verbal interaction is desirable and therefore encouraged.

5. What areas of language are emphasized? What language skills are emphasized?
Since the sounds are basic to any language, pronunciation is worked on from the beginning. It's important that students acquire the melody of the language. There is also a focus on the structures of the language. All the four skills are worked on from the beginning of the course.

6. What is the role of the students  native language?
Meaning is made dear by focusing the students' perceptions, translation. The language can behoweverbe used to give instructions when necessary, to help a student improve his or her pronunciation. Also the native language is also used during  feedback.

7. How is evaluation accomplished?
The teacher does not praise or criticize student behaviour Since this would interfei with students' developing their own inner criteria. The teacher looks for steady progress, not perfection!

8. How does the teacher respond to students' errors?
The teacher works with the students in getting them to self- correct. Students are not thought to learn much if the teacher merely supplies the correct language. If the studer are unable, to self-correct and peers can not help, then the teacher would the correct language, but only as a last resort.


1. There are many reasons for the teacher's silence in the Silent Way, Can you state th reasons?
2. Choose a grammar structure. Plan a lesson to teach the structures.