The Silent Way is an approach to language teaching designed to enable students to become independent, autonomous and responsible learners that was created by Caleb Gattegno. It is constructivist in nature, leading students to develop their own conceptual models of all the aspects of the language. The best way of achieving this is to help students to be experimental learners. The Silent Way allows this.
The main objective of a teacher using the Silent Way is to optimize the way students exchange their time for experience. This is considered to be the basic principle behind all education: "Living a life is changing time into experience."
The students are guided into using their inherent sense of what is coherent to develop their own "inner criteria" of what is right in the new language. They are encouraged to use all their mental powers to make connections between sounds and meanings in the target language. In a Silent Way class, the students express their thoughts and feelings about concrete situations created in the classroom by themselves or the teacher.
The approach is called the Silent Way because the teacher remains mainly silent, to give students the space they need to learn to talk. In this approach, it is assumed that the students' previous experience of learning from their mother tongue will contribute to learning the new foreign language. The acquisition of the mother tongue brings awareness of what language is and this is retained in second language learning. The awareness of what language is includes the use of non-verbal components of language such as intonation, melody, breathing, inflection, the convention of writing, and the combinations of letters for different sounds. Rods, pictures, objects or situations are aids used for linking sounds and meanings in the Silent Way.
Language is often described as a tool for communication. . On the other hand, language is almost always a vehicle for expression of thoughts and feelings, perceptions and opinions, and these can be worked on very effectively by students with their teacher.
To know is to have developed criteria for what is right or wrong, what is acceptable or inacceptable, adequate or inadequate. Developing criteria involves exploring the boundaries between the two. This in turn means that making mistakes is an essential part of learning. When teachers understand this because they have observed themselves living it in their own lives, they will properly view mistakes by students as 'gifts to the class'. This attitude towards mistakes frees the students to make bolder and more systematic explorations of how the new language functions. As this process gathers pace, the teacher's role becomes less that of an initiator, and more that of a source of instant and precise feedback to students trying out the language.
The materials usually associated with Silent Way are in fact a set of tools which allow teachers to apply Gattegno's theory of learning and his pedagogical theory -the subordination of teaching to learning- in the field of foreign language teaching. The tools invented by Caleb Gattegno are not the only possible set of tools for teachers working in this field. Others can and indeed have been invented by teachers doing research in this area. Material:
Sound / color chart à This is a wall chart on which can be seen a certain number of rectangles of different colours printed on a black background. Each colour represents a phoneme of the language being studied. Fidel and Word charts.
By Abi