The silent way is the name of method of language teaching devided by Caleb Cattegno. He used to be involved in a mathematics program and his experience has influenced the method. The method repersents his previous experience in the use of rods and his series of word charts in the field of language teaching. The method may not be srparated from the use of the rods ang word charts with different colors. Rods are colored wooden or plastic sticks that are thin and straight. They are of varying lengths. Each length has its own distinctive colors. They are used to present the target language psycally in order for language learners to use their senses in learning the language. They can function both as rods and as representative for something else. The function of rods may be substituted by other objects which are easily found in the surro undings.
The name of the method often makes people curious; they wonder how people can learn a foreign language in a “silence”. The name of the method seems to be a response to other traditional methods with which language teacher are very active in dominating classroom activities. In this method the role of language teachers is relatively less silent so that language learners are encouraged to be more active in producing as much language as possible. A language teacher should encourage language learners to take role in learning activities. The time of learning teaching interaction should be given to language learners, not to the teacher.
The teacher function as a guide, an organizer, a resource, and evaluator. In the role of guide, language teacher guides learners to learn the language units under considerations; hence, the teacher offers the learning materials to the learners and helps them to acquire the target language. In the role of organizer, language teacher organizes classroom activities; the teacher predicts what will happen in the class so that he/she can arrange activities which promote the learning processes the learners need. In the role of resource, the teacher functions as a source of information about the subject; he/she is the one in the classroom whom the learners consult whenever they cannot solve their problems among themselves. In the role of evaluator, language teacher judges whether the learners’ contributions to the learning process are valid, relevant and correct. In error corection the evaluator judges whether the learner will be able to fugure out and produce the forms expected or not and how he/she will provide them with necessary help. The result of the judgement will serve as feedback for the teacher as a guide resource, and organizer.
The principles of the method are not considered in languge learning only but the principles may be applied in learning in general. Some people think that the aim of this method is not merely to master a foreign language but also to humanize human beings. It is the education of spiritual powers and of the sensitivity of the individual (Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 103 and 2001). Learning aforeign language through silent way is claimed to build the personality of language learners while they are learning a foreign language. In this method languge learners are required to be considerate of other learners; they try to learn the target language from one another. Language learners have to learn the target language from other learners, as well as their teacher, since utterances from other learners can be models of the target language. Language learners are accustomet to thinking first before producing any utterance. They have to understand the concept of what they are going to cay before they say it. “Understanding first, speaking later” is the motto in this method. Drilling is acoided as far as possible since in drillin language learners tend to speak first and understand what they speak later. Language learners are given a lot a grammatical unit or new vocabulary in context while by drills they often repeat something without understanding it.
As stated earlier, the silent way shares a great deal of principles with theories from general education. For example, one of the basic principle of the method is that “teaching should be subordinate to learning” (Larsen-freemanm 1986: 51-52 and 2000). There are some other principle that apply in general education (Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 99 and 2001). One principle that is related to education in general is that learning is facilitated if the learner discovers or creates rather than remembers and repeats what is to be learned. This principle suggest that drilling in learning is avoided and practice is encouraged in this method. Another principle that also comes from general education is that learning is facilitated by accompanying physical objects and by problem solving the material to be learned. These principles also belong to some other methods in language teaching. It is no wonder why to some extent the silent way has similarities with other language teaching method. Other principles of the silent way which are also principle of education in general (Stevic, 1980: 45-48) are a) learning is work, the work is done by the language learners, and much of the work takes place during sleep. b) the work must be conscious so that language learners must not only learn through the process but they must also learn to be aware of the process and to control it.
Learning a target language thus goes byond acquiring new behaviors: it is one more step towards being a freer person. Language teacher is no longer the one who is responsible fo all teaching activities, rather he/she is the one who motivates language learners to ferform therir own activities. “the aim of good teaching is to make language learners independent, autonomous and responsible (Cattegno, 1976: 45). Language learners are supposed to do their own learning at their own rate. Specifically, the objectives of learning a foreign language according to caleb cattegno are the learners will have:
- An accent as close as possible to that of the natives who are really cultured members of the country whose language is being studied.
- From the start, an ease in conversation related to the vocabulary presented and studied.
- An ease in composition about all topics whose vocabulary have been met.
- An ease at dictation with speeds related to the amount of visual dictation practiced and difficulties of the text.
- An ease at narrating events, describing pictures, at shopping at various shops, ordering in hotels and restaurants, and at asking fo directions, etc
- An ability to render appropriate texts of either language into the either (cattegno, 1976: 83).
Although the language materials in the silent way are developed based on structural syllabus, the final objective of the method is to make language learners able to use the target language as means of communication in oral and written forms.