The Silent Way

The Silent Way


1.                   originated in the early 1970s, founder: Caleb Gattegno

2.                   rests on more cognitive than affective arguments

3.                   adopts a highly structural approach (also called “building-block” approach)

4.                   problem-solving is central to learning, discovery-learning procedures take place

5.                   grammar rules of the lg are learnt inductively by the learners

6.       teacher                                                                                                                                 a) should be as silent as possible (in order to encourage learners to produce as much as possible)  b) a stimulater but not a hand-holder, he must get out of the way while students work out solutions c) he models sounds while pointing to a phonemic chart (a Fidel chart) or loans arrangement of Cuisenaire rods d) he provides a new item (a single word, short phrases and sentences) by modeling it very clearly once (or twice), the learners are then left to use the new item and to incorporate it into their existing stock of lg, taking it as far as they can until the next item is needed and so on

7.       learners should take responsibility for their learning, should be active, should develop independence, autonomy, responsibility, must cooperate with other students in the process of solving lg problems

8.       Cuisiniere rods: small coloured rods of varying length, used to introduce vocabulary (e.g. colours, numbers, verbs and syntax (tenses, comparatives, pluralization, word order) and also to teach pronunciation

9.       a set of colourful wall charts (phoneme charts, spelling charts, word charts, charts with grammatical paradigms, wall pictures)

10.   the minimalist role of the teacher: students refine their understanding and pronunciation among themselves with minimal corrective feedback from the teacher (he generally indicates by gesture or other expressions what the students should do and whether or not they are correct)

11.   drawbacks

-  not enough modelling, no teacher correction, no identification with culture

-  the lack of Balance Activity Approach (insufficient input, high expectations of output)

-  too artificial, abstract

-  the teacher too distant to encourage communicative atmosphere

-  a lot of things can be done more easily when they are clarified by the teacher’s direct guidance

-  limited to relatively small groups of learners (logistic reasons)

-  the rods and charts wear thin quickly

-  apparent lack of real communication

-  allows to master only the basics of the lg

12. advantages 

a) the problem-solving feature has led to the idea of task-based learning and to the widespread use of problem-solving activities in the lg classrooms   b) discovery learning activates students  c) visual aids   d) silence and quiet favour concentration

13. used mainly to teach adults in the 1st year of lg learning or during the individual curriculum

14. Basic tenets :

I. learning is facilitated if the learner discovers or creates rather than remembers and repeats what is to be learnt

II. learning is facilitated by accompanying mediating physical objects: a set of Fidel charts, Cuisinere rods etc.

III.   learning is facilitated by problem solving that involves the material to be learnt

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