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Making Silent Way Materials An Invitation For Teamwork

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno

Newsletter

vol. XIII no. 1

September 1983


First published in 1983. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1983-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-315-9 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com


For thirty years there has been one single developer of Silent Way materials — its originator. A number of languages have been produced by him, assisted generally by one helper whose job it was to make sure that no errors were made and that the selection of words and segments of words could generate all the functional vocabulary, plus the set of structures for each language. Those helping did not even need to be teachers. Hence they were mainly asked to vouch that the word charts displayed what was needed to make newcomers to each language aware of the “spirit of that language.� From the feedback received soon after production (or even a few years later), those Silent Way materials have been considered adequate and often, most helpful. It is now time to invite those who find themselves equipped for it to demonstrate that there will be a competent team in the world to take the succession of the originator when he stops being available. In the meantime, it is perhaps fitting that his way of working be described in sufficient detail to prepare future workers for that task. This issue of the Newsletter will begin the process of transmission as seen by the writer. Since there are ten thousand languages or more on earth and only a score so far have been given a form suitable for Silent Way teaching, many people will need to be involved in spelling out the actual contents of the word charts which are needed to transmit the spirit of more languages. To guide in the selection of the words, the only thing available today is what has been done so far and this may or may not be of help for the next ones. A critical study of the existing work would probably help. News items refer to recent experiments which might complement the main articles.


Table of Contents

1 A Brief Look At What Has Been Done During The Last 30 Years. .......................................................................... 1 2 How We Work To Be In A Language We Study For The Purpose Of Making The Silent Way Materials................... 7 3 The Baby In The Learner ..................................................17 4 Recommendations .......................................................... 25 News Items ......................................................................... 31 1 Pine Ridge, South Dakota The Lakota Silent Way Course........... 31 2 The Alaska Training Week For I単upiaq....................................... 37 3 ........................................................................................................ 41 4 ........................................................................................................ 41


1 A Brief Look At What Has Been Done During The Last 30 Years.

In 1954, when the first steps were taken in what has become an industry, there was only an intuition. The colored rods were to offer situations which when expressed in words would represent an ability to say something in any new language. That something was to become a set of statements displaying all the structures of the said language. It was found, that for that purpose a smallish number of words was sufficient. Better said: whatever the topic, it is clear that perception of space and time relations; cause and effect; sex and gender; singularity and plurality; the various persons one sees; past, present and future; doubt and certainty; affirmation and negation; involvement or detachment . . . . form the frames of reference within which events happen and are apprehended. Therefore, the gathering of the words and particles, which make possible the reference to all these components and their distribution in clusters which guarantee the power of expression in the new language, constitute the two tasks for the makers of the word charts for that language. Topics are treated separately and their study postponed till the functional vocabulary above has become second nature. Teaching at that stage served to test the reasonableness of the choices of what went on the charts. The accuracy of this vocabulary in terms of

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sound, stress and spelling; its availability when it is needed; the extent of its completeness; the ease with which derived words can be formed as well as their modification and contractions, and the sentences which use them will constitute those tests which must be passed for the classroom materials to be considered as acceptable and worthy of being offered to the public. Because, over the years, we found that our selection of the linguistic situations with the rods provided the meanings for which the stringing of the words on the charts with the pointer, allowed the students to make the corresponding statements, and thus the functional vocabulary appears to be conditioned by the existence of the set of rods. This is a true appearance, but still only an appearance. A lot of work must be done on the language so as to extract from it what is needed in order to say in that language that which is being perceived innerly or outwardly as needing expression. The perception of the meaning allows students to concentrate on the acquisition of the functional vocabulary and the utterances they would have to make in the new language to correspond to those meanings. Hence the role of the situations with the rods is to free the students to have to resort to their memory and to their native language, to find what to say in the new language and which corresponds to their perception of situations. From that liberation, the students gain their full power to learn, to enter into new uses of themselves, like uttering new strings of new sounds and attending to their stresses, connections, their placing on a melodic line belonging to the new language and that in the shortest possible time. This, because of their awareness of what they have to do and can do. This, in turn, supports a functional retention without any need for drill and repetition. All of the above tells us that the selection of the functional vocabulary — which is the most important part of the generation of the Silent Way materials — goes far beyond a user of that language as a native and of owning vocabulary, but calls on powers of discrimination, on sensitivities and judgments of algebraic links between words and particles capable of generating the functional set. The twenty-six languages that have been treated to date have each represented a unique and special challenge which has required a renewal of the author. Such preparation is what needs to be looked into by anyone intending to embark upon such adventures.

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1 A Brief Look At What Has Been Done During The Last 30 Years.

*** In the early 60’s the first three languages had been prepared for the printers. Since they were the first we could expect that their shortcomings would be most visible and they could serve to teach us a great deal. That this was not the case, results from the special preparation of the author for English, French and Spanish. Years of observation, experimentation, inquiry, study of the literature and of various people’s linguistic behaviors, served him well. A special preoccupation over the years with modes of thought of various peoples and how those were reflected in their languages, allowed the teaching of the definition of the stratification of every language vocabulary (and grammar). At the bottom, supporting all future extension, came what has been called the functional (or functioning) vocabulary, the one which must go on the charts (especially the first ones). Above it, came the “semi-luxury” or topical vocabulary which allows people to talk to one another of anything met routinely in everyday life and, still above it, the “luxury” vocabulary needed only on very special occasions. On the later charts a few of these words can be found permitting transitions to other areas of experience than the learning of the language. Grammar is not visible on the functional vocabulary of the charts. It is generated by the pointer which strings words to form sequences which are sentences of that language. Only the sequences which sound right to natives are to be retained to be passed on to learners. Their analysis and their formulation as rules of composition of sentences constitute the foundations of the grammar of that language, which can then be isolated from the other activities and looked at by itself. Hence, the Silent Way word charts meet the needs of all linguists who find it indispensable to become aware of the structures of sentences and their formalization. Except that in the Silent Way there is no demand that grammar be extracted from fluent correct speech or written compositions, to be talked about as important per se. In fact this is only important for grammarians and very few students will ever become that. What students want is to be able to speak and write as natives do and the Silent Way makes that possible, without much fuss.

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Anyone wanting to work on making true Silent Way materials for any one of the ten thousand language existing on earth will be well-advised to forget that grammar can be displayed in space and to concentrate on getting a “feel” for the language, so as to pass it on to the students as early as possible. Another thing to forget is that matters called “hard,” have to be postponed. The Silent Way criterion is: “if this or that is needed to make the students autonomous in the language, it must be transferred from the teacher to the student as early as possible.” It is even possible to make things hard by postponing essential items of the functional language. For example “en” in French is essential and must be in circulation as early as “it” is in English or “to” in Spanish, although coursebooks do leave it out for some time. No Arabic, German, Greek, or Russian can be used without a mastery of declensions, hence no postponement of these is permissible and the first charts for these languages, do present them functionally from the beginning. Not as an intention of teaching the grammar of those languages, but of making students see how each of these languages solves certain problems met differently in their own tongue but needing to be tackled as users of the new languages. *** It has been found again and again that the essential functional vocabulary of the languages we worked on does not exceed four hundred words and particles. It is likely that this will be found again when trying to work on more languages. English is the only language for which we have had need for a second edition. In that single revision of the contents of the charts, the only notable alteration was the displacement of some words from some chart to an earlier one, thus providing a greater flexibility. Other modifications include putting more words on a chart particularly the first three. In English, this was possible or even easy, because of the importance of small functional words in that language. Already with only 85 words on charts 1 and 2, a huge amount of English can be generated whose meaning is readily made accessible through various uses of the rods and the participation of the students.

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1 A Brief Look At What Has Been Done During The Last 30 Years.

In the case of Spanish, a further proof of the compactness of the functional vocabulary came when it was necessary to restrict the publication to 5 charts instead of the 12 allowed for English. The device of including many suffixes and a few prefixes showed the value of making explicit the role of algebra in languages. Twenty years later, this attitude made possible the production in twelve charts of most of what is needed to embrace in as complex languages as Lakota and Iñupiaq. When working on new languages, algebra remains at the center of the examination of the special devices used in them to produce its vocabulary out of a small number of components. As more and more languages are looked at, it seems that the creators of languages, in the remote past, were much more aware than most of us are of the importance of algebra (before the word was coined) in their field. They used it masterly to save themselves from complications and from burdens on their memory which they must have known to be a less useful faculty than intelligence. The Silent Way materials restore memory and intelligence to their respective places in learning, the first is reduced and the second enhanced. *** Finally, over the years, we learned to articulate speaking, reading, and writing organically, so that each brings its contribution to the general learning of the language. An essential ingredient is the systematic use of color to represent sound and the production of a “Sound/Color Fidel” for each language. Students learn to let colors trigger sounds and when these are strung together (through the use of the pointer) to form words; when these are strung together to make sentences, and modulated uniquely (as it is done in that language when spoken by natives) to form the spoken speech; students can then read color on the word charts This device immensely simplifies the adoption of the script of any new language, whatever it is and whatever is the script one has used in one’s language 5


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so far. Thus writing is obtained by stressing shape and ignoring color, although it is color which made possible the utterances called reading. Writing is also seen as copying designs, monochromatically. These will then trigger sounds through the colors associated and evoked at that time. Silent Way lessons are in part devoted to this articulation of speaking, reading, and writing so that students can put down what they can say in the language and lift up from printed sheets what they can read of it at this level. Retention is mightily helped in that way. Students feel less outdistanced by natives — who can do all these things because of the numerous years of their contact with their language — who now are being joined by newcomers to their language in the three activities of reading, speaking, and writing on a restricted vocabulary.

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2 How We Work To Be In A Language We Study For The Purpose Of Making The Silent Way Materials

It is clear that generally the sources for a new language are found in published materials and when possible, references to natives as consultants. When natives are not at hand, tapes of natives providing spontaneous continuous speech are used. It will be known to many that existing materials are rarely of such a quality that they do not raise doubts in those examining them and create difficulties by their contents generally meant for beginners who are not scholars. Often they are not specially well proofread and free of avoidable errors. They also display either an unconscious selection of an approach or make use of an approach which only recommends itself because it is traditional and more attractive to the public which will recognize it from what little they heard of language teaching. But that is all that is available and only for a small number of languages. Looking at these materials, one can •

ignore much that is printed in them, and 7


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make a first selection of which sections should be studied to extract what is relevant to the “spirit of the language,” essential in the Silent Way and what belongs to the functional vocabulary of that language.

is easier to write about than do because what authors select to include in their work is often only meaningful when one works out most of the exercises which are supposed to make things clear through practice.

2 is what has been selected over the years in order to produce the materials for a score of languages and if what has been learned can be made plain it will be most helpful in the preparation of future writers of Silent Way materials for classroom use. At present, I begin with a study of the sounds of the new language. In general, only limited help is found in a special section given to that in the books available. Authors either fear to frighten their readers by being exhaustive and then they only provide that part of the phonetic system which they can make clear through example and explanation leaving a certain amount untouched though it may be needed for the full flow of words of natives. Or, if they are thorough, they refer “in writing” to all those sounds which do not exist in the language they are using as medium of expression in this course-book. This, of course, leaves a lot to the student who has to fend for himself looking for a native speaker of that language to provide the sought-out needed oral example or buys some tapes, if these exist. Those of us who have tried both alternatives know that it is rare to get the help needed from either source. Natives have to be of a certain level of culture to be reliable and, even then, they may never have asked themselves how they say what they say, nor how to explain in words for someone else what they actually do. Often one hears: “I don’t know.” As to tapes, since they are pre-existent to one’s needs, what they contain is to be studied for the extraction of the specific information wanted and often it is too hidden to be reached. What I resorted to is to provide a succession of sketches of the Sound/Color Fidel knowing to a certain degree of certainty which 8


2 How We Work To Be In A Language We Study For The Purpose Of Making The Silent Way Materials

sounds are close enough to be given such or such a color, leaving open this set while attempting to capture the set of sounds unknown to me and only qualified by the remarks of the author(s) of the book(s) I was consulting at that time. In some languages there were no new sounds or only one to consider, the maximum was five, a comforting finding, however surprising! On this matter, I must make three remarks: 1

as teachers we do not have the same responsibilities as scientists when we settle the actual number of sounds discernible in any language: science may state that there are hundreds, according to proper instrumental analyses; to obtain them all from our students we may need a score or two and leave to the live mergings of sounds the job of producing these required thousands.

2 if between two languages some sounds differ enough to be noted but are still close enough to be represented by a choice of a certain color, we use that color and make our students work on the sound they would produce in their own language to make it resemble the one we are after; thus, the apparent confusion of using the same shade of color disappears, normally very quickly. Indeed our students’ phonation instruments are voluntary and far more pliable than material instruments used in laboratories. 3 although there are ways of introducing a large number of color-shades and hues, we select to use as often as is permissible the standard hues offered by our printers to make the transitions from one Sound/Color chart to another — this becomes a classroom job rather than a printing one. As a result, students can (or could, in the case of still non-existent charts) come to the conclusion that they have to change less the use of themselves than they believed, to concentrate on the few very different sounds, if any, and, with a high morale, embark on making the sound combinations of the new language and work on the actual new distributions of energy it requires to form its words, its stresses and phrasings and the essential melody, all of which characterize that language.

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The Sound/Color Chart is a pedagogical instrument with some contacts with a scientific study of the phonetics of various languages. To select the colors for strictly new sounds is not an easy task, for, even if we only need one hundred colors for all the widely used languages (in several regions of the world). Some of the hues, once printed, become pretty close and can only be distinguished intellectually by saying a word one knows for certain and use that to make decisions about sounds in other words which are not as specifically different. Since these materials are to be used by teachers who know the native language they will teach, the maker of the Sound/Color Chart will know that it is sufficient that he/she be aware of the existence of such sounds and makes provision for that. Moreover, the Fidel of that language must be done at the same time, assuming that that language has been given a written form in the past or recently. This Fidel presents some problems, not all new. Some are already met when working on the Sound/Color Chart. In fact, these problems help natives decide on behalf of the makers of the charts, whether a sound the makers can produce is an approximation of what is needed, or how to alert them so as to produce the proper sound before a selection of a color for that new sound. For example, Lakota books speak of “aspirated” sounds when those they ask for end with a sound that originates in the throat, while, in Hindi “aspirated” consonants require a puff of air at the end produced with the lips. Listening to tapes does not clearly settle such matters, but asking natives to say a few selected words, can. The Fidels of the various languages are as complicated as the spelling system retained for each of them. Traditional spellings may be very complex (as in the case of English and of French); or quite simple (as for a few languages, like Italian).

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2 How We Work To Be In A Language We Study For The Purpose Of Making The Silent Way Materials

The generation of a Fidel is a delicate task but not too demanding. A number of decisions must be made which may not be as watertight as desired by phoneticians. Our criterion remains pedagogical rather than rigorously scientific: if the instrument helps beginner learners and does not hamper progress of the advanced ones, it is acceptable. If all the phonemes must be present, not all the graphemes need to be there. If not all dialects of one language are as capable of being illustrated, the instrument will still be valid for all those which can be represented and local alterations may be proposed by the teachers for the doubtful points. These generalities become meaningful every time we entertain a specific language. Natives, cultured in their language, have often been surprised to find their preconceptions upset by the actual display on a Fidel of the two ambiguities of spelling, namely: how many sounds are to be triggered by one letter or set of letters and how many forms are given in a language to trigger the same sound. Until a Fidel is made no one actually knows the extent of these ambiguities. For example, that o has been given twelve sounds in English, and è forty-one spellings in French, always meets with incredulity. *** Of course, the most difficult and extensive work is required in the preparation of the word charts. First, because they are numerous, second, because many intangible components make their appearance in this research. Having worked on a score of languages, I can state categorically that each has challenged me in a different way and made me more perceptive, more vulnerable, more cautious and more imaginative than I was before tackling it. There are of course many things to carry over from the work done on one language to the next. But these things cannot easily be stated since we know so little of how languages proliferated on earth, which influences were at work in the case of ancient languages and on languages of people who remained isolated from each other for centuries or millenia. There are many reference books which might help in generating connections between languages, grouping them according to various principles and creating the impression that there are only a few stems and many branches. But

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there are no books telling how best to introduce students to any one particular language so that as soon as possible they feel that language as no longer foreign. This writing may be the first sketch of a scheme to meet that challenge. Two keys have served us well: 1

babies who spend several months not attempting to utter any word used in the speaking environment, suddenly enter into its study and a few months later are said to speak that language correctly, fluently and spontaneously;

2 languages are evolutionary systems which develop over a long stretch of time, each generation adding something to what they found when they came in the world. From the first remark we drew very helpful guidance: meaning must precede the labeling and the distribution of energy of that spoken language must be given as early as possible. Babies show us, by not learning words for months, that they use their senses and their intelligence to comprehend the perceptible aspects of life. They also show us that, since words are arbitrary and energy variations are objectively real, they postpone working on words and concentrate upon what proves to be eminently reasonable and profitable. If we can take hints from them we shall be able to increase our chances of helping newcomers to languages. From the second remark (languages develop over time) we drew the insight that seeking the economics our ancestors used in the making of their language, will save us stressing the wrong components and their memorization. In modern terms we looked for the kinds of transformations retained by the makers of a language in order to expand the words and their functions in order to cope with larger challenges. Today, we call this the “algebra of the language.

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2 How We Work To Be In A Language We Study For The Purpose Of Making The Silent Way Materials

Having found in the generation of their experience by young children that they could not ever do what they all do without definite sets of conscious criteria, we concentrated on finding these and on making them available to the learners. The most fundamental first. Those are constantly required and hence we devote Charts #1 and #2 to that purpose for all languages. Sometimes more charts are needed to complete the job, but #1 and #2 remain the depository of what is needed to make students aware of the demands of the new language and of a vast array of statements which generate the criterion of rightness about all those statements and what they cover. For all languages, in Chart #1 we include a set of words referring to the colored rods so that students can say a certain number of things about them, essentially the adjectives of color (up to 9 of them); the name selected for rod in that language, the words “one” and “two” and sometimes “three” (in case of a language having singular, dual and plural); the conjunction “and;” the definite and indefinite articles (in case they exist in that language); three action verbs: “take,” “give,” “put,” sometimes more; the verb “to be” if needed to qualify “being” in that language; a few direct and indirect object pronouns; suffixes which show plurals and declensions;demonstratives, adjectives and pronouns; some prepositions and/or adverbs. Also special particles not existing in other languages but essential in this one, to convey who speaks or to whom one is speaking, whether something moves or is stationary, etc. may also find their place in Charts #1 or #2. Chart #2 contains generally all the rest of the pronouns, a number (or all) of the question words, important adverbs and prepositions that are the key items which take care of articulating one statement with another in order to create contrast, continuation, alternative, condition. A few additional verbs which would open conversations like the equivalents of, “What’s your name?” — “Which is yours and which are not?” — “How many of these does he have?” and so on, are also part of Chart #2. *** 13


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Talking about the work done on so many languages leaves a lot to be desired since the demands of Arabic or of Greek are so different from those of Lakota or Hindi. But it can become clear that because events happen in space and time, we must select those words which in every language locate the situations contemplated or the actions performed both in space and time. Thus, generally, Charts #3, #4 and #5 offer the functional vocabulary which will be needed whether events happen in succession or simultaneously, separately or continuously or contiguously; if objects are looked at, how they differ in dimensions, in comparison, how they are placed with respect to each other: near or far, behind or beside, between or to the left, etc. Clustering these words as qualifiers of spatial or temporal relations makes it also easier for students and teachers to find them quickly, to point at them in the order they appear in sentences. Of course, other words and particles are needed in order to make the statements reflect the situations; for instance, intention (or future) must be able to be expressed; so is execution while it takes place (continuous present) and its termination (past). The words for this must be at hand as such actions demand them. Possibility, impossibility, doubt and certainty, likelihood or improbability, belong to the climate of the situations generated for the teaching of the mastery of the required expressions and their variations to cover their ranges. Clearly by selecting the functional vocabulary in this way we provide our students with the means of expression most needed and free them from being concerned with the possibilities which will show themselves in everyday life situations when semi-luxury vocabulary is required. That vocabulary will be gathered with other means such as pictures, slides, dictionaries, etc. To sum up this study of the contents of the most important Word Charts (#1 to #4 or #5), we can say that we found at the same time the words which: 1

make the students able to function in that language — and we call this vocabulary functional — and

2 put them in contact with the “spirit of that language.” Part of that spirit is carried by the melody of the language 14


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associated with the way the phrases are joined together; the stresses are placed on the words and the sounds of each word are uttered. The rest of the spirit is held in the way a certain algebra of particles has been selected so as to convey uniquely how the creators of that language articulate their perception of themselves and of the world. It is possible to gather insights needed to prepare these new materials from printed sources not particularly commendable for their preoccupation with the subordination of teaching to learning. But this possibility only shows itself when the maker of the word charts has become vulnerable to the spirit of each language.

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3 The Baby In The Learner

Although, from the start, we said that the sensitivity of the makers of the charts is divided between finding how a language has been put together by Its inventors and how young children manage to acquire it so early, so quickly and so well, we have not yet looked into the reality of the criteria-used by babies. This we shall do in this section. It is difficult, by watching babies, to know exactly what they are doing with themselves. So, we must assist ourselves by asking questions which may lead us to observations which are conclusions. For example, no one will doubt that in the beginning there are no words, just by noting that one’s child or children, do not utter them for months and find confirmation of this fact from all other parents. Similarly no one will doubt that all “normal” children start perceiving discriminately: sounds, movements, the appearing and disappearing of objects, that they act purposefully when grasping things, taking them to their mouths, etc. Hence, no one would doubt that children’s minds are active and are seeking meaning around in order to adjust to an active environment in which things happen which strike one’s senses and may have causes which may be accessible to one’s perception. Perception is the set of instruments which: 1

lets us make sense of the world and what happens within ourselves, and

2 gives us a sense of what is true or real (which we call our “sense of truth).

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We could check thousands of times a day that this sense is at work in us and has always been, i.e. that it is not the outcome of other people’s effect on us, whether mother or siblings. In humans, perception evolves and can be taken very far. But it is there from the start and is used by each individual all the time. It is our sense of truth which will serve to create the inner criteria that make it possible for most of us to acquire L1 and similarly, through the Silent Way L2, L3. . . . . . . In L1, spontaneously in L2, L3. . . . . . . because teachers may have made the right decisions and have remained all the time in contact with the learners. Perception tells us that we make noises, that these can be remade (generating the criterion of “sameness”) or changed (generating the criterion of “otherness”), but also that the changes can be willed and directed, like stopping or going on making a noise or sound, or prolonging and maintaining a sound or playing variations on the pitch or the intensity (generating the criteria that sound production is voluntary and obeys specific orders which can be known per se innerly and whose attributes can be explored independently). Perception informs us when our self is acting on our sound production system, or on our ears, or any other of our sense-organs, and also of some simultaneities, delays, interruptions, reappearances, etc. Since no one has found that perception is not an attribute of the self, brought with us in this world at birth, and no one has ever suggested that perception can be given — although we all know that it can evolve and become incomparably sharper, deeper, more constant — we must not forget its existence when we work on the way L1 is acquired. If perception does not evolve equally in all people it does not mean that it does not evolve in all of us. Even the most psychologically destitute children have shown that they can learn something by themselves. Hence, we must endow everybody with the capacity to establish by oneself criteria of discrimination and of recognition.

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Likewise, retention is associated with inner criteria which tell each of us: 1

that what our self is evoking now belongs to us at this moment, and

2 that it was first lived at some other “now,” which belongs to what we acknowledge as our self in the past. Retention is an attribute of the self and it too can evolve or be made to evolve. The numerous exercises we consciously give ourselves before we notice language, give us an enormous experience which — though not verbalized or even, later, verbalizable — merges all its instances in order to constitute one’s early childhood experience that will serve as foundation for the rest of one’s life. What matters here, for our purpose, is that we bring to L2 or L3 . . . . definite learnings of ours which are essentially our own and not induced by any consious intervention of the environment. These learnings are not atoms of knowledge held in our memory after a certain drill and a lot of repetition. They are ways of being, permeated by the whole of our self, reachable only to it, if at all; displaying attributes which force upon us that they constitute part of the fabric of that experience which replaced our time of learning. Not being atoms of knowledge, they are generally not evocable and appear to us as retained, mysteriously, — though certainly as retained — since they are available. We can thus reach our knowing rather than our knowledge, i.e. our criteria and find them incessantly available for use. Hence, from the start, the learner in us is the baby in us. Mostly the baby — rather than the boy or girl, the adolescent, or the adult student — because in our early infancy we do not have anybody to please but we have our sense of truth to exercise all day, every day, and never fail to use it. For instance, having clearly seen that our throat and our mouth are voluntary organs we relate to them rather than to our ears which we know only as receptacles and which cannot make sense of all the arbitrariness of the lexicon of any language and therefore can quietly be left out. But the voluntariness of the organs of phonation leaves to 19


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us all the work of being pinpointedly connected with the wills. So as babies we give ourselves exercises which tell us precisely which muscles are capable of responding to definite alterations of their energy content ordered by the self and carried out by its will. We spend days in our cribs working, in isolation but in a concentrated manner, on the dynamics of our lips, our tongue, our larynx, in order to know (without any listing of the results but through their integration into one effective skill) what it is to make a definite sound and to be wholly with that making. Thus we enter in a multitude of dialogues with what we can do, and learn how to extend our powers, knowingly. Because that task is considerable we need months for it at the beginning of our lives. Particularly, when, at one moment, we hear ourselves doing what we were doing somatically, we start a new apprenticeship: that of our coordinating our sound production with our listening to it and hearing sounds made by ourselves. This way of working guarantees that we transfer to our knowing through hearing what we knew somatically as direct changes of our own energy used to produce sounds definitely willed. Our hearing develops the equivalents of our uttering inner criteria, derived but genuine, that we shall consciously place in our auditory equipment. Hence, around nine months after our birth (sometimes much later) we have established an integrated and reliable system of recognition of energy transformations which can serve us to relate to the sounds made by others. Acquiring L1 is then acquiring an L2, as far as we are concerned, since L1 is not yet ours and we know nothing of what a lexicon does or is for. What we know is to listen to ourselves making utterances and know exactly how they are produced somatically, integrating breathing, variations of muscle tone in various muscles situated in our phonation system, affecting our ears from outside and our skull from inside, as energy transformations of our whole system. Analytic and synthetic at the same time, this process is recognized as our own, directly known and innerly directed. We own it in the way we own our bloodstream and our voluntary muscles.

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3 The Baby In The Learner

Because all of us, as babies, knew how to guide our own steps in all this apprenticeship, every one of us (except a minute proportion which are aphasic or deaf) does the right things and manages to enter the environmental spoken language and acquires L1 before or around the age of two. Our inner criteria produced in our first year even if no longer accessible to our awareness, now feeling distance from what the self did then, are still operative in our L1. They are the ones which catch us making lapsus linguae and which monitor our speech. They tell us that the components of Tightness of all the sounds uttered, of all the stresses distributed in the words and among them, of the melody of the language used and the correspondence of the words uttered to the intention that triggered them, are what they should be. Otherwise, they suggest definite alterations. Hence, our students of L2 or L3 . . . . are endowed through L1 with all the criteria they need to start on L2. And with lots of advantages on those who believe that memorization of vocabulary and grammatical rules are needed. In the Silent Way teaching, we go to the “learned baby� carried by each student in our class and make them rehearse what they know so well and come up immediately with results which meet their criteria and feedback that they are doing what is required to acquire L2. Just as they did years ago for L1. The Silent Way is neither a method of teaching nor a way of going around obstacles encountered by all teachers who no longer know that the baby in their students, is alive and well. It is an organization of the environment so that the teacher can make contact with the baby in each student and the student lets that baby (in him or her) take the reins and do as well in L2 or L3 . . . . . . as was done with L1 by him or her. Therefore, Silent Way teachers must come to such realizations themselves and not because I say so. They have to ask the questions I asked and find their own answers, perhaps beginning with the ones I found which made me into a successful teacher of almost any class of

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students in any one of the languages I worked on. These questions came to me because I really wanted to know: 1

why we only speak so late after we are born hearing in a speaking environment?

2 why we used so much of the environmental language which is not lexical and still each of us uses his or her voice? 3 why we use our language to express ourselves, i.e. to try to convey a meaning, but very rarely have to remember which words we used for that? 4 what made the differences between the many languages of the world in terms of learning by the babies born in each of them, who all succeed very early in mastering their essentials? 5 what did I do with the baby in me, the little boy I once was, the adolescent I became and, once adult, with all the phases of my evolution? I knew I did not kill any one of them but rather integrated all, each of them as they contributed to my life. 6 what does it mean to be human and to go through human evolution in one life and a succession of lives? In one life, I learn to let my passion take me through a series of absolutes which make their maximum contribution to my need to know. Through a succession of lives to take up in the appropriate form what escaped me in the previous ones. Human as a baby, a child, an adult, I still can only explore that much of myself. Each life, in its essential limitations, suggest a return to explore more and more deeply, what everyone intuits as having been missed in one’s circumstances because of one’s condition. 7 what does a longing for a language beyond L1 represent and why do I feel it and, like me, millions of others? Is it because we experience the immensity of human experience and, in contrast, the narrowness of our own, that we seek to expand ourselves by borrowing from other cultures and civilizations other ways of being, other ways of handling challenges that come to all of us (like the need to express ourselves represented by other languages which also represent other modes of thinking, 22


3 The Baby In The Learner

of feeling, of projecting adventures worth the dedication of our lives to them)? *** And many others which led me pinpointedly to such or such an answer in the case of a multitude of technical challenges which remained open when I shifted from one language to the next. The baby in me helped, also because I did not seek to please anybody (not even myself) and made myself ready to take up any challenge that came my way. This time it is: “how to pass on to others my capacity to produce classroom Silent Way materials which are valid in terms of natives’ criteria as well as of those of newcomers to those languages.”

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4 Recommendations

The previous sections were loaded with summaries of extended investigations which cover many years. Our invitation to members of the public to try their hand at becoming authors of Silent Way classroom materials, requires that we extract the main recommendations from all the remarks which may be needed to feel that the work is worthwhile but not to get on with the job. If it is a language you mastered either because it is your native language or because you used it and feel about it as natives do, then 1

make sure you can listen to your voice uttering the words of that language and identify each of the sounds in each of them, note them down systematically;

2 make sure you can listen to other speakers’ voices as they are speaking that language and note the differences between your utterances and theirs, as well as, 3 collect the words which exemplify the sounds you and they utter in almost the same way and examine the set thus obtained so as to find whether your set of sounds can be considered as complete. 4 give to each of the sounds collected a color already among those found in the various Sound/Color charts or select a new color for the sounds never encountered among the languages already produced, 5 note what happens to the stressed vowels in that language. Is there need for one or more colors to be 25


Making Silent Way Materials

selected to indicate alterations due to stress or lack of it? You may find that stress has already been taken care of since when you compare a number of languages, you find that the three unstressed sounds of English seem plentiful for your language. Having secured the Sound/Color Fidel, scan your language for the ways each of the sounds has been rendered in writing, Alphabetic languages evolved historically, usually lose the one to one correspondence between phoneme and grapheme, Hence, the Fidel of most languages contains more signs in color than there are colored rectangles in the Sound/Color chart. Proceed to produce the Fidel. Do not think of its being completed as an easy task. Better keep it at your side for alterations which may be: 1

additions of signs not met earlier (even if there is a single example for some of them), and

2 recognition that in some of the words, anomalies require a special decision about including or not including them. (For instance, in English proper names often offer anomalies and are not given a place in the Fidel.) The opportunity of working on the functional vocabulary for the word charts will help in the completion of the Fidel charts. For instance, the word “says� in English is the only one in that language in which ay has been given that sound. It would have been easy to overlook this example. The closure of the Fidel must be considered as postponed indefinitely. For the Fidels, there may be need to contemplate more than one edition. In order to do a very good job of teaching, their completion is not necessary but one feels better if more of the graphemes of a language have been found and gathered. ***

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4 Recommendations

When working on the word charts, the first job is to decide which word in that language will best represent the colored prisms called “rods� in English. The first requirement is that it be acceptable to natives in terms of sounds and what it evokes. Also that its singular, dual and plural forms when they exist do not use transformations out of the ordinary, as it did happen for some languages with some choices that were later discarded. For languages which have two or three genders, care must be taken too in having in reserve words which can refer to those prisms in each of the existing genders. Though it is preferable, when possible, to include as many of the names of the colors of the rods in a box, it is not essential. The decision there is about the difficulties presented by their names. For the purpose of mastering flows of words formed by sentences referring to words on Chart #1, it is not as important to know those ten adjectives as it is to involve those on the charts in structures which differ meaningfully, utterable by students with comprehension and accuracy. On this matter, various languages challenge makers of charts differently. Reflection will help make decisions and the testing of any solution will tell whether any decision was wisely made. The Arabic Chart #1 is a good example to study. In it the two words for rods appear (one masculine and one feminine), their singular, the dual and the plural forms also. The radical changes of the names of color with gender and number too. Thus students get at once entry into some of what is constantly needed and used, but generally considered too hard for beginners and therefore, postponed. It is strongly recommended that makers of charts consider that which the actual unfolding of the first lessons with the rods makes possible and then select the words for them. There is no hard and fast rule about genders and their effects on words. If only one gender makes possible the usage of many structures, we can introduce only one gender. If introducing more than one can be done easily (as exemplified by Arabic) then this choice would be made available. But there is one rule which must never be left out, and that is that for languages which have articles and in which these change with the 27


Making Silent Way Materials

gender, no noun should ever be learned separately from the articles, whether definite or indefinite. Since there are no real criteria for the choice of articles in the case of inanimate objects, students must learn each noun with the article chosen for it in that language. Learn, here means “memorized” for there is no way of deciding on this. (“Sun” is masculine in French and feminine in German, and the other way round for “moon”!) Pronouns are in small numbers and allow students to make a very large number of statements. Hence they are useful in more than one sense and should be met very early. These include personal, possessive, demonstrative, relative and interrogative. Prepositions, conjunctions and a number of adverbs are indispensable in order to refer to the setting and unfolding of actions and must be met early and practiced to the point of becoming second nature. When it is helpful, conjugation charts can be produced to summarize for the students all that is demanded of them by the moods, tenses and persons in that language. We can find all the paradigms on such charts but it is produced in order to keep in front of the students what in the past used to be learned by rote. Instead, it proposes problems soluble with the pointer by linking stems to prefixes and suffixes, making transformations more visible and, when the charts are well organized, cluster the changes which characterize the indicative, the imperative, the conditional and the subjunctive one against the other. And this for all tenses and persons. For all those reasons the verb charts are not needed for every language and there is not one pattern for those which suggest themselves. In fact, the challenge of the verb charts may be so great that some first editions have appeared without them and that we have not always found the proper chart arrangement for some languages. In such cases, we decided that it is better to complete the rest of the materials, teach with them, and do what we can with the verbs without putting all that is needed on one or two charts. No one noticed in fact that, for English and French, none were produced.

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4 Recommendations

*** Because, in the Silent Way, we want to work on the students so that they become autonomous in the new language as soon as possible, the “numbers” chart has been produced for each language but one. There is not much to say on this matter beyond asking makers to study their language and count the “ogdens” needed to master numeration in that language in, say, one hour. This has been the case for every one of the 26 languages on which we worked, except Hindi. Since there is need for this exception, of more than one hundred ogdens to be paid we did not produce a numbers chart and put numerals (as a set) among the “semi-luxury” vocabulary learned through other means, after the main structures of the language have been learned with the help of twelve charts. Readers who will feel that the flexibility we preconize is tantamount to letting them hang in the air, will be partially right. Silent Way chartmaking is a craft, an art, built on empirical experience and only becomes a science after thorough study of the demands of mastery of any given language. Our last recommendation is: be very patient.

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News Items

1 Pine Ridge, South Dakota The Lakota Silent Way Course This was a first in a number of ways. One, nobody had to this day (June 1983) taught Lakota the Silent Way using newly made materials finished two days before the course started; two, it was to be taught in tandem by Dr. Gattegno (who had made the materials, but never lived among people speaking that language) and one or more native Americans of the Sioux tribe; three, it was to last three days at the reservation around Pine Ridge (at the foot of the Black Hills of Dakota) and to serve as the starting leg of a six weeks summer course (which normally was given, until this year, using ad hoc approaches); four, the class was made of a mixed group stretching over people with 16 or so years of trials to learn that language and two or three who were coming to it for the first time; five, the majority was made of religious people working in the reservation as pastors or assisting the Mission in its social work, a few as teachers. The course was videotaped for future use. What our readers want to know is what they can learn from this experiment, but to make clear where the lessons for them are, it is necessary to take a few minutes on the how it all happened. Some has already been related in previous issues of this Newsletter. Last August (1982), a call from St. Francis (S.D.) brought the news that a small group of religious people belonging to the Society of Jesus had been trying to adapt what they knew of the Silent Way to work with

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members of the Sioux tribe among which they were working, to teach themselves some, or more, Lakota, the Sioux dialect of that region; would we be interested in preparing the Silent Way materials that were needed? The answer was: possibly, if we can measure the magnitude of the task and if our price for its completion was acceptable to the Mission. A dictionary, 2 course books, a few audio tapes, two grammars arrived a few weeks later and after their initial study a positive response was sent to St. Francis. Working with Brother Carr of the Mission a number of requests and requirements were met. MidDecember when only one fourth of the charts were ready, the Mission sent Mr. C.P. Jordan a native-speaker to assist in overcoming the obstacles met by Dr. Gattegno. In 2 days, not everything could be done that needed doing. Hence when in the beginning of January the first edition was made and dispatched to Brother Carr they were not the final version. Soon after a request came for a three-day workshop during the summer school session of the Mission at Pine Ridge. This was accepted at the time when a considerable load on Dr. Gattegno’s schedule should have suggested the answer: I cannot. In May, the corrections for the words on the charts and the colors for their sounds that had been made by Mr. James Green, S.J. in Berkeley arrived and a new edition of the charts for Lakota was undertaken. Two sets were requested by the Mission. They were undertaken after the Iùupiaq project had been completed. A whole month was required to produce the sets for immediate use in the teaching of Lakota. Mr. Green came to New York and thus the ambiguous letters could be determined to permit the finishing of the coloring. At Pine Ridge, a three-day course started on June 14th. In a large room a horseshoe arrangement of three tables accommodated a class of 16 adults; 9 priests, 1 brother, 1 novice, three sisters, a man married to a Lakotan woman, and a Lakotan woman. Teaching a language he knew sufficiently to compose the charts but not at all directly, made Dr. Gattegno know the risks he was taking and he introduced the course as an experiment whose success could only be maximized if all played every game proposed according to the rules.

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News Items

Never had Dr. Gattegno had a class of people so disciplined, so keen to learn a language (of which many knew a lot more than the teacher facing them); so patient and supportive of the teacher and the weaker students among them; so appreciative of every genuine contribution made to their desired end by the new approach presented to them. Charity was at work all through the 20 hours of intensive and longish sessions. The keen intelligence of such dedicated people never ceased to bring its contribution to the moments when it was most needed. So, the lessons could proceed smoothly all the time. As usual they started by assimilating the Sound/Color Fidel and to produce many words and groups of words in response to the pointing. To many it was going too fast but since a small number of the colors were used again and again, only two or three rectangles remained uncertain to a few at the end of that first day. Those who had studied Lakota for some time, perhaps for years, were the most appreciative of the opportunity to abandon the writing which constituted the furnishing of their mind in terms of Lakota and to play games at making noises in a disciplined manner. Suddenly the impediments experienced so far, when invited to utter Lakota statements which had not been modeled to them, were no longer set in motion. The discovery that the spoken language was made of strings of noises uttered in certain orders and on some melody triggered by a pointing of colored rectangles was an exhilarating experience for many, who said so repeatedly over the 3 days. The few native Americans who were there to help but could not, since they were studying the Fidel for the first time and were finding it harder than a number of the students, were very pleased with what they heard uttered by the students, especially by the newcomers to the language. These had little to abandon that cluttered their minds while the most learned stuck to their desire to have letters to hang on. But soon the smallness of the actual demands of the task was recognized and very few had doubts that they could use the instrument. The application of this skill to reading chart N and to acquiring the Lakota system of numeration came next. This was done very quickly because the system requires only 15 ogdens to be paid and the

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Making Silent Way Materials

approach, which does not rely on memorization but on the deliberate production of all that can be produced as soon as one new ogden is paid beyond the first nine, illustrates the importance for the study of the whole language of that first study. This proved to be understandable by all although Dr. Gattegno had been told on a few occasions that he should present something else first and reduce his stress on numeration. The advisers changed their minds when they lived through the experience and found it so powerful for all that followed. The first morning passed so quickly in spite of its duration (3 hours) and its intensity. The afternoon also went off as quickly, learning about the colors of the rods and the forms for taking rods of this or that color in this or that number and giving it or them to one or more persons, being female or male. Thus, the Lakotan way of saying those things which includes a certain order of words: referring to the object(s) whose attributes follow its being mentioned, then in which numbers, then particles and verbs and some other particles which add information required to decide what to do, to whom, by who, became second nature giving the students fundamental structures through a small vocabulary which cost them not more than 30 ogdens. The second day also of seven hours of work on Word Charts 1 and 2, involved the native speakers in making statements more and more with the naturalness of speaking to each other and testing comprehension of their flow of words, its retention by the students and their own delivery. Plus a demonstration of their ability to execute what the native had asked for. A particular moment which seemed to have touched the class as well as the natives, came at the end of the day when the lesson was concerned with stating whether a rod was standing or lying down, was now standing and had been lying down and when several rods were involved what happened to them when changes were imposed to the situation. The delivery was accelerated as soon as the words were known, the structure of the sentence established and the triggering of

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News Items

the proper words by the perception of the situation. Because things worked smoothly and it took 20 minutes to master the demands of a dynamic situation, newcomers as well as old hands were elated and expressed their admiration of the way the approach took care of a number of the obstacles of learning: to make knowingly, precisely, and with a good delivery, a long Lakotan statement. The variety of the items studied, the support the materials provided all the time by just being there, the cooperation of all members of the class, the rare reference to the natives’ knowledge, the rhythm of the introduction of one new item at a time and the integration of this item with all the mastered ones — to give the sense of more power — gave the class a feel that in this way of working they really can acquire the Lakotan language in a reasonable time. Naturally all that had to accommodate the teacher’s limitations in the language and his hesitancies as well as the difficulties of involving the native speakers present. The third and last day moved faster and the six hours of work served to show the accelerated yield the Silent Way makes possible because of its insistence on good foundations (not based on memorization) and the treatment of students as intelligent people with great resources at their disposal, so that there is no need to postpone indefinitely the introduction of so-called “hard” items when these seem required by the situation. For instance, the various ways of forming plurals, duals, of contracting expressions, of economizing words without making meaning less clear, of speeding up delivery by the teacher and the students so as to have as soon as possible conversations which do not require thinking and which let intuition play its part. The exercises required the students’ presence when listening to a statement said once only by a native and which needed to be transmuted into writing, then tested in front of the class by a student pointing at a succession of rectangles and later to the Fidel followed by the word charts and sometimes — if the statement could be acted — on the rods. By putting the responsibility for grasping what is said on the student, by making the native use a natural flow of words, students 35


Making Silent Way Materials

were helped, as they said, since they controlled their interference and were more alert. Constant increase of the amount of matter handled in each segment of the lesson while just one or two items were added at a time, made everybody happy with what everyone was doing with oneself. When going back to Charts 1 & 2 and look for the words or particles not yet integrated, it was easy to produce new lessons which took care of that. In particular the future tense was done in a few minutes, the second class of verbs looked into also very quickly, (the first had been extensively practiced the day before), negative statements, question words etc. were part of this accelerated rhythm. In fact, it became obvious once more how well people can function in a new language if the foundations are those we selected to form the beginning of our Silent Way courses. Many dramatic moments were registered during that course, none more striking than the turn around of a student (a sister new to Lakota) from a very discouraged person not seeing at all how any of that would make sense to her, to one who could produce a longish statement requiring many subtle agreements clearly knowing why she was doing each of them. The class was so impressed by that achievement that it burst into applause. She of course was delighted. This experiment with the Silent Way will stand out as another of the milestones in the history of this approach and worth remembering. (From a letter Brother Carr sent in August after the course.) “The formal Lakota program finished Friday, July 29th. . . . All the students as well as C.P. and Matt agreed we experienced a more effective way to learn Lakota than anything we knew in the past. I heard no one speaking badly of the method either formally or 36


News Items

informally. This is a strong positive statement from people who have taught. Some of them have a very critical streak. The students seemed to experience a growing ability to use Lakota. . . .The charts helped keep the classes centered and learning in a developmental way. The teachers and most students came with some vocabulary which tended to scatter the class efforts. The charts kept things focused. The class that started with little or no Lakota completed all but Chart #11: kinship titles. We had other vocabulary. Food and meals just before a picnic, and later 3 Silent Way pictures: cat, grocery store, and picnic. . . . The summer Lakota program met its objectives: to see if the Silent Way was a viable way for us to learn Lakota and to begin the process of introducing Lakota the Silent Way into the schools. . . . The doors are beginning to open on both reservations. . . “

2 The Alaska Training Week for IĂąupiaq NANA Regional Corporation chose to gather the people who took part in this course in a campsite it owns that is used for six weeks each summer. This course was to precede the 3 youth two-week camps in which Eskimos are brought to learn about their traditional values. The site is in an isolated area only accessible by boat on the Kobuk River or by hydroplanes, halfway between the villages of Kotzebue and Koorwick. Spruce trees cover the grounds and extend to the whole horizon. A new large building has two spacious rooms one used as a kitchen and dining room and one as a classroom which on Sundays is changed into a Quaker meeting room before lunch and after dinner. There are six log cabins and six large tents to receive those who come or are sent there. The spacious and bright room has windows wide opened on a lake and part of the river; it is conducive to peaceful interchanges between the people who come to live or work there. People of all ages merge quietly seeming to know respect for a number of unspoken links to each other. Even the dogs who guard the site only 37


Making Silent Way Materials

bark to announce some arrival to the site from the sky or on the water. It is easy to lose count of days in such surroundings. The five days seemed much shorter than that. The sessions were intense and full, but relaxed and varied. Learning in such circumstances is easy and judged productive by the participants. The prototype Iñupiaq materials were used in order 1

to show everyone how they help in the teaching of the language, and

2 to find which changes are needed to be brought to the originals to make them correct and more accurate for the teaching of that language to newcomers to it whether foreigners or those Eskimos who abandoned their ancestral tongue. Fortunately the changes required were few. At Sivunniigvik (the local name of this camp), again, working first on the Sound/Color Fidel and on numeration proved to be very powerful. It was also enjoyed, found easy and a good instrument with promise for the uses each participant projected for oneself. The actual Fidel was found to be an adequate instrument to tackle literacy. Since the spoken Iñupiaq is more widespread than its modern written form, it appeared that the Fidel and the pointer in the hands of a well-prepared instructor would take reading and writing to the people in a very short time. One of the participants — working on the translation of the two testaments into Iñupiaq — saw this use of the Fidel as a very good preparation of adults for their entry into the Scriptures which he was making available in their own tongue. All the participants had some reason to be there (even when asked to attend rather than electing to come) and it seemed that the experiences lived were appreciated as contributing to the solution of the problems that each of them brought with him. The work with the Word Charts could only be begun since the time was short, but it was experienced by all as comprehensive and

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adequate for the presentation of this complex language in a systematic and smoothly advancing fashion. The situations with the rods and the pointing at words on the charts to elicit the string of words which verbalized the perceptions were recognized as supportive of the learning and helpful for the practice which leads to retention and facility. Of course, native teachers will do much better than the slow adjustment to each other of two people working in tandem. But even the work of that tandem was sufficient to make everyone appreciate the merits of the Silent Way. These were named as: letting the students do all the work, and, in particular, the talking, allowing the teacher to become acquainted with the students and free to serve them; cooperation among the learners rather than shyness to participate for some and competition for teachers’ praise for others — a joint movement forward of the class with much support for the weak and endless opportunities for the adventurous; elimination of lapses of silence on the part of students who forget, since now the needed words remained in front of them on the charts on the wall and in places they know, they are also always available; the role of stringing elements to produce almost all one seems to need to say (or write) about so many different things which one can illustrate through action or with the rods; the verb charts which provide such an easy constant overview of the modifications of (intransitive) verbs according to the variables retained by the natives to express mood, tense, person, euphony, object, in their own unique ways; the clear presentation on a single chart of all the suffixes and particles which give to Iñupiaq its articulation so as to clarify a number of issues presented to oneselfinvolved-with-others-in-the-world (a kind of extended set of declensions); the perception of the small number of the important matters which need to be taken into account in order to arrive at a functional grasp of the essentials of the language which open the whole of the language through addition of topical words. In becoming aware of all this help from a material which was already available (though still in the imperfect prototype form) encouraged the group to consider the future and to plan for a more determined attack on illiteracy in areas wider than the 11 villages of the NANA region. The group at this course was made of a number of leaders in the movement intending to take care of the native Iñupiaq (the true people) and to give them a renewed access to their ancestral values which were 39


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threatened by the newcomers to the state who are ready to exploit and not inclined to serve anyone but themselves. One of the first goals is to rescue the language made less accessible than English — which is exclusively taught in the public school system. Iñupiaq has the place of a second language and is discouragingly badly taught. The contact of these people with the Silent Way and the ease with which the illiterate population — which still carries the wealth of their culture — can be brought to the point of recording their experiences of the past, in an unbelievably short time, made them want to move at once towards a greater implementation of this essential component of their campaign. The Silent Way materials for ESL were at hand and one session of almost two hours was spent on them. Its impact ricocheted on Iñupiaq whose Fidel and word charts gained greater relief since they showed that that ancient language is more manageable than English. There was another source of inspiration at this meeting of a relatively small group facing a challenge which appeared huge when only the obstacles were contemplated. Alaska is so immense as a land and so sparsely populated. The villages scattered in a forbidding mountainous terrain are mainly accessible by air and by the old routes made of the rivers which meander for hundreds of miles. In spite of such isolation the villagers speak mutually understandable dialects of Iñupiaq. One of the attractions of the Silent Way materials is that they can be used by people who do not speak the same dialect. This made one suggest that the Inuit peoples who dwell all around the North Pole from Greenland to Siberia and Lapland through northern Canada and Alaska could be excited to find that they can one day talk and write to each other in their old language, now made accessible to speakers (literacy) and to those who want to change its rank from second to first language. Bilingualism is an official U.S. policy for all those who claim their right to retain their own language. Now bilingualism has a more precise meaning: English to feel part of the U.S. as a modern nation, Iñupiaq to feel part of the ancient and vigorous nations which for 10,000 years inhabited those areas.

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It felt good to be part of this revival. NANA accepted to take the materials from their present prototypical state to the printed state within the next few months.

3

The last weekend of August ‘83, saw the last workshop given at 80 Fifth Avenue where Dr. Gattegno worked for more than eleven years. Thirty people participated, one came from France for it, people from Greece, Spain, Japan and from two or three hundred miles away from New York City came in response to a circular stating that Dr. Gattegno would expound his latest findings blended with 30 years of work on the Silent Way. This is indeed what happened. The most salient point of the 20-hour seminar was the close study of how the Silent Way has managed to put at language teachers’ reach (and therefore at their students’ disposal) the powerful and universally successful approach to L1 in the case of L2, L3 . . . . Although 30 years old, this intuition that the powers of the mind at work in the acquisition of the mother tongue (L1) can be made to work in the acquisition of L2 or Ln needed actually 30 years to become sufficiently articulate to become obvious to the public. This weekend seminar vouches that this is the case. To write more on the actual unfolding of the seminar will require at least the length of an issue of this newsletter. It seems worthwhile mainly because there are so many misconceptions of the Silent Way in circulation among interested people which deserve dispelling. Maybe a transcription of the tapes of the weekend would serve that purpose better. Are there any interested volunteers for that job?

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From the end of September, Educational Solutions’ offices will be located at 95 University P1. (4th floor) New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 (between 11th and 12th Sts). Call New York City Information for our new telephone number since we do not know what it will be at this time.

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This issue printed and mailed in early September, will be the last one produced in the 5th Avenue building where we worked and served for eleven years. We will still offer teacher training workshops on our premises and of course we are available for on-site workshops. In order to help this Newsletters’ continuance, try to enroll those around you whom you think will benefit from its content. It needs your support! United States, Canada and Mexico, subscription fee $15 for ‘83-’84. Europe and South America $19, other countries $22.                      

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About Caleb Gattegno Caleb Gattegno is the teacher every student dreams of; he doesn’t require his students to memorize anything, he doesn’t shout or at times even say a word, and his students learn at an accelerated rate because they are truly interested. In a world where memorization, recitation, and standardized tests are still the norm, Gattegno was truly ahead of his time. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1911, Gattegno was a scholar of many fields. He held a doctorate of mathematics, a doctorate of arts in psychology, a master of arts in education, and a bachelor of science in physics and chemistry. He held a scientific view of education, and believed illiteracy was a problem that could be solved. He questioned the role of time and algebra in the process of learning to read, and, most importantly, questioned the role of the teacher. The focus in all subjects, he insisted, should always be placed on learning, not on teaching. He called this principle the Subordination of Teaching to Learning. Gattegno travelled around the world 10 times conducting seminars on his teaching methods, and had himself learned about 40 languages. He wrote more than 120 books during his career, and from 1971 until his death in 1988 he published the Educational Solutions newsletter five times a year. He was survived by his second wife Shakti Gattegno and his four children.

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Making Silent Way Materials

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