SILENT WAY VIDEO
Updated September 16, 2013
SPANISH THE SILENT WAY—40 HOURS IN RETROSPECT
B&W, 30 MINUTES
With commentary in English
Is now available on DVD.
Price: $16 US, including shipping and handling.
To order, send us an email at:
with “Silent Way DVD” on the subject line.
We hope the DVD will especially be useful in language-teaching methodology courses because it allows students to observe an actual Silent Way class.
THE VIDEO CLIP
Click on the link below to see a short (449 kb) clip from the video:
This takes place during the 15th hour of the course. The students are sorting out the expression:
Las regletas están tocándose.
(The rods are touching each other)
The teacher gives the students a chance to figure out the meaning of tocándose on their own. When a pronunciation/accent problem arises, she uses gestures and humming to help them get it right. The students bring in a previously studied word: casi (almost) and try it out together with the new expression. This is an example of the subordination of teaching to learning: the students experiment with new aspects of the language while the teacher stays in the background, assisting when needed.
These few moments of footage also show how group cooperation can produce outstanding results, as opposed to the more traditional classroom approach of cut-throat competition, in which one student gets the right answer and all the others are losers.
In 1979, a 40-hour Silent Way Spanish course was held at UCLA for the benefit of staff members, students and visiting professors who were invited to join the class or to stop by to observe The Silent Way in action. Most of the participants in this course were complete beginners.
Susy Pint taught the class while John Pint videotaped it. The forty hours of tape were then edited (without benefit of proper editing equipment) to produce a half-hour overview of the students’ progress. It was decided to focus on one individual, a visitor from Japan, who knew no Spanish whatsoever, not even the common expressions picked up by most westerners from television or movies. The video, therefore, offers a unique opportunity to follow a student’s progress from zero right up to a respectable command of the pronunciation, grammar and basic vocabulary of a new language.
It was Caleb Gattegno’s hope that the Silent Way would be used in high schools so that students could master a new language every year. Following the typical high-school program of one hour per day, the course presented in this video would represent only two months of classes and demonstrates that it is possible for students to reach a high level of mastery—without homework, books or tears—in one academic year.
Sad to say, instead of producing people who are quadrilingual, US high schools too often produce people who feel frustrated and unwilling to ever study a foreign language again. In the words of William Kuehl, an old classmate of mine whose interest in foreign languages died during his high-school German class: “Eins, zwei, drei…I hope you don’t flunk like I.”
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