Silent Way

Silent Way is an approach to teaching foreign languages developed by Dr. Caleb Gattegno, based on a theory of learning and teaching rather than on a theory of language. Although Caleb Gattegno’s Silent Way did not stem directly from the Cognitive Approach, it shares certain principles with it. For example, One of the basic principles of That Silent Way is that teaching should be subordinated to learning.

The goals of teacher who use The Silent Way are Student should be able to use the language for self-expression to express their thought, perceptions, and feelings. Students become independent by relying on themselves. The teacher, therefore, should give them only whwt they absolutely need to promote their learning

The Roles of Silent way

Teacher Roles

  • The teacher should be silent as much as possible in the classroom to encourage the learner to produce as much language as possible.
  • The teacher is expected to create an environment that encourages student’s risk taking that facilitates learning.
  • The teacher should give only what help is necessary. In other words, the teacher makes use of what students already know. The more the teacher does for the students what they can do for themselves, the less they will do for themselves (Larsen-Freeman 1986).


  • The learner is expected to become ‘independent, autonomous, and responsible’ in language
  • Learners are expected to interact with each other and suggest alternatives to each other. They must learn to work cooperatively rather than competitively. The teacher’s silence encourages group cooperation.
  • In order not to miss what the teacher says, learners must give the teacher their attention. Learner-attention is a key to learning.

Strategy of Silent way

English Skill Level: Beginning to Intermediate
Grade Level: Elementary to Adult

  • The teacher introduces a discrete sound or structure by pointing at Silent Way charts or by using
  • Cuisinare rods to demonstrate a structure or grammar point.
  • Students then figure out what they are learning and reproduce the sound or structure.
  • Between activities or sessions, students may ask questions of the teacher.
  • The teacher then introduces another discrete sound or structure in the same manner.
  • Students again figure out the meaning and reproduce the sound or structure.
  • As time goes on, students are ideally able to combine discrete sounds and structures to create longer strings of language.

Strengths of Silent way

  • Students are in an environment that encourages independence.

Weaknesses of Silent way

  • Some students may need more teacher input than what is provided through this method.
  • Language is not learned as a whole nor is it authentic.
  • Teachers must have access to materials and to the system.