BASIC ASSUMTION ABOUT LANGUAGE LEARNING

Besides the assumption about language, it is believed that learning take place more effectively under certain condition. Therefore, the silent way also has some assumptions about language learning. The folloeing are the assumption about language learning.

  1. The grammar of the target language is learned througn  largely inductive processes (richard and rodgers, 1986: 101 and 2001). Language learners have to fingd out how the patterns of the target language work. Language teacher just provides the clues that lead them to come to a conclusion and he/she does not explain the usage of grammar rules. The clueing is done are being used. In order to facilitate the inductive processes for language learners, language teacher deals with one rule at a time.
  2. Language is learned logically, expanding upon what language learners already know. It is clear that the idea is that language learners know what they are doing. Language learners are not only saying something without being aware of what they are sayng. In order for them to be aware, the new materials have to have a relationship with the previous one so that they can easily make associations since the association process is a necessary part of learning. Thus, language teacher should build upon the learning process by adding one new segment of language to the previous one, he/she starts from what the language learners already know in order to encourange association processes. This is why the advocates of the silent way prefer to use a bubble diagram as a language syllabus (see the example of bubble diagram). To facilitate inductive processes, language teacher is suggested to deal with rule at a time and he/she may use elements in their mother tongue in order for language learners to discriminate and compare the element in the target language, particulary in making sounds.
  3. Learning is facilitated if language learners discover or create tather than remember and repeat what is to be learned (richards and rodgers, 1986: 99 and 2001). It implies that language learners should feel to produce their own version of the target language. Errors are used as feedback for the teacher so that he/she can start from the errors to improvee their target language. Language teacher lets his/her students try out the knowledge of the target language in the form of utteance. Memorization and repetition are avoided since it is believed that a human being uses the language by his/her own working, through trial and error and deliberate exprimentation. This process has been used since he/she was a baby. Thus, it is against a natural law to force language learners to memorize and repeat what is to be learned.
  4. Learning is a continuing and living process. It occurs on a continuum and leads towards mastery. Advocates of this method believe that learning does not occur abruptly and thus cannot be evaluated immediately. This also means that errors are tolerated since learning a target language takes time and language learners need to try out their understanding of the language. Thus, the learning process and error go hand in hand. Language teacher emphasizes the process, not the product and let the language learners progress at their own rate. The silent way believe that some learning process takes place naturally as we sleep (larsen-freeman, 1986: 61 and 2000).

In order to implement the assumptions above, a certain set of operating principles must be derived from the assumptions in order for language teacher to know what to do and what not to do. The principle of language teaching and language learning represent certain assumption of a method. One assumption may result in several principles that represent it, it may also be possible that an assumption has just one principle as its representation. Language teacher must be able to develop his/her own techniques or activities that are suitable with the situation and condition of the language learners based on assumptions of the method. Some principles of the silent way mentioned above are practical and some are philosophical, and some others seem almost metaphysical and need metaphysical understanding.

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