The method emphasises the autonomy of the learner; the teacher's role is to monitor the students' efforts, and the students are encouraged to have an active role in learning the language. Pronunciation is seen as fundamental; beginning students start their study with pronunciation, and much time is spent practising it each lesson. Translation and rote repetition are avoided and the language is usually practiced in meaningful contexts.
The teacher uses silence for multiple purposes in the Silent Way. It is used to focus students' attention, to elicit student responses, and to encourage them to correct their own errors. Even though teachers are often silent, they are still active; they will commonly use techniques such as mouthing words and using hand gestures to help the students with their pronunciation. Teachers will also encourage students to help their peers.
Silent Way teachers use specialized teaching materials. One of the hallmarks of the method is the use of Cuisenaire rods, which can be used for anything from introducing simple commands to representing abstract objects such as clocks and floor plans.
The principles are
1. Teachers should concentrate on how students learn, not on how to teach’
2. the teacher work on the students while the students work on the languag
3. instead of learning rulers, students formulate their own rules from experience. Student learn the language instead of learning about language.
4.the teacher uses what the student already knows.
5.student learn from one another.
6.the teacher does not model the language, but helps students develop’inner criteria’for correctness
These principles situate the Silent Way in the tradition of discovery learning, that sees learning as a creative problem-solving activity.
Design and goals
The general goal of the Silent Way is to help beginning-level students gain basic fluency in the target language, with the ultimate aim being near-nativelanguage proficiency and good pronunciation. An important part of this ability is being able to use the language for self-expression; students should be able to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs in the target language. In order to help them achieve this, teachers emphasize self-reliance.
The role of the teacher is that of technician or engineer. The teacher's task is to focus the students' attention, and provide exercises to help them develop language facility; however, to ensure their self-reliance, the teacher should only help the students as much as is strictly necessary. As Gattegno says, "The teacher works with the student; the student works on the language." For example, teachers will often give students time to correct their own mistakes before giving them the answer to a question. Teachers also avoid praise or criticism, as it can discourage students from developing self-reliance.
Teachers may never give a formal test, but they constantly assess students by observing their actions. This allows them to respond straight away to any problems the students might have.Teachers also gain feedback through observing students' errors; errors are seen as natural and necessary for learning, and can be a useful guide as to what structures need more practice. Furthermore, teachers may gain feedback by asking the students at the end of the lesson. When evaluating the students, teachers expect them to learn at different rates, and students are not penalized for learning more slowly than their classmates. Teachers look for steady progress in the language, not perfection.
Just as the name implies, silence is a key tool of the teacher in the Silent Way. From the beginning levels, students do 90 percent or more of the talking. Being silent moves the focus of the classroom from the teacher to the students, and can encourage cooperation among them. Silence can be used to help students correct their own errors. Teachers can remain silent when a student makes a mistake to give them time to self-correct; they can also help students with their pronunciation by mouthing words without vocalizing, and by using certain hand gestures. When teachers do speak, they tend to say things only once so that students learn to focus their attention on them.
A Silent Way classroom also makes extensive use of peer correction. Students are encouraged to help their classmates when they have trouble with any particular feature of the language. This help should be made in a cooperative fashion, not a competitive one. One of the teacher's tasks is to monitor these interactions, so that they are helpful and do not interfere with students' learning.