In language teaching there are different ways of correcting learners’errors in terms of who corrects the errors (walz, 1982): first, the learners who made the error; second, other leaners in the class; and last the teacher. Walz claim that language learners could locate their errors and then correct them; this way of correcting errors could reduce teacher talk by one-half. This is also believed to reduce the intimidation factor introduced by excessive criticism. The second way is peer correction. Other leaners can involve actively in the process of correcting. This must be done very carefully because it can invite unfavorable comparison between language learners (Stevick, 1980). This way also increases the amount of time that learners talk in foreign language class. The third way is teacher correction. Even though this way has been avoided in language teaching, many language teachers still use it. It is understood if many teachers use this way of correcting errors since sometimes the teacher must tell the class what the errors are and what the proper form are. This is also done because this way can save time and reduce confusion of multiple errors. However, this way has been critized as not demonstrating that language learners are not really learning the target language. Fanselow (cited in Walz, 1982: 18) warns that simply giving the correct answers does not establish a pattern for long-term memory.
Unlike the proponents of the audio-lingual method, who rely on the correction by the teacher by drilling, those of the silent way prefer to use self-correction first, and then peer correction. Teacher should correct errors as a last resort. Cattegno (1976) believe that learners are capable of correcting their own errors, therefore, silence for language teacher is necessary because language learners have work to do to learn a foreign language. The language teacher signals the learners that they have something to work on without saying that they have errors. He/she does not judge the utterance that language learners produce and suggests their utterance to compare the proper utterance produced by other learners. This way represents the principle that language learners need to develop their own “inner criteria” for correctness (larsen-freeman, 1986: 58). Language teacher not always model new sounds of a target language but rather uses gestures or other signals to show language learners how to modify or correct their sounds. Inner criteria of language learners will monitor and self correct their own production.
The following is the example of correcting errors in the silent way. The example comes from the procedure introduced earlier, except the presense of errors.
T : put two blue rods on the table, pause, and say “two blue rods” (pronounce the sound /s/ very distictively).
T : put three blue rods, pause and say “three blue rods” then point to the two blue rods and give a signal to the language learners to speak.
S1: say “a blue rod” instead of “two blue rods” (error!)
T : signal all learners (not only S1) that there is an error without mentioning it and give an opportunity to S1 to correct if he/she knows.
S1 : (no correction)
T : signal any student to respond to the utterance produced by S1.
S2 : say “two blue rod” (error!) instead of “two blue rods”
T : ask a student who has produced the proper utterance
S3 : say “two blue rods”
T : ask S1 to repeat in non-judgemental manner
S1 : say “two blue rods”
T : ask S2 to repeat with the same manner
S2 : say “two blue rods”
If no learner can correct the error, the teacher should model the utterance to all language learners, again in non-judgmental manner. The whole of process of correcting errors is that learners are first given the opportunity to figure out the error, peer correction and then teacher correction. The teacher is relatively silent and he/she does not criticize or praise so that the learners learn to rely on themselves. Through this process of correction errors, the teacher encourages multi-chanel communication among the learners, among whom there is no leader. In the silent way the teacher sees error sorrection as an opportunity for language learners to learn. Richards and rodgers (1986, 103 and 2001) state that it is this capacity of self-correction through self-awareness that the silent way claims differ most notably from other menthods.
Proponents of the silent way claim that the principles of the method are far-reaching. The principles do not apply in language teaching only. Even, the principles not only affect education but also the way people perceive the living of life itself (larsen-freeman, 1986: 68 and 2000). Language teachers or prospective language teachers have to ask themselves which principles can be implemented in english teaching in their condition and situation. They may develop some techniques deriving from the principles of the silent way and try out the tecniques in teaching english in indonesia.