Inspired in the Direct method too, The Oxbridge system puts the stress in
the learning. As both have, as the core of their respective syllabus, grammatical
structure and vocabulary, the latter incorporates a new element: the topic, as a
tool for learners to use, around an issue, the acquired grammar and vocabulary.
Besides, pupils are given some new language, in relation to that same issue.
The first to appear, among the above described -during the early years of the
20th century-, is the Direct method. It is based in grammar structures but
introduces vocabulary as a necessary element in target language use. When the
Second World War, in the 1940’s, required short-term assimilation of a foreign
language, this method proved so slow to the experts. They would modify it to
obtain the Army method. Structures became the centre of the syllabus and
vocabulary would be introduced through them. In the mid-sixties, a pedagogue
and mathematics teacher called Caleb Gattegno decided to apply his
knowledge to develop a new method, the Silent Way, grammar-centred, as
well, but under a structural concept, starting from simple grammatical
structures, growing in difficulty, up to more complex ones. Probably because of
the teacher-learners dynamics, some structures were not included, judged too
difficult to be learned. The Oxbridge system acquires the grammar-vocabulary
basis from the old Direct method, and introduces the topic to let students
produce much more creatively, using structures and vocabulary learned along
their whole learning process in a free way.
Most of the TFL methods are teacher-centred, so students are expected to
give the correct answer through the assimilation of the specifically asked
structure. There’s only one possible output. Thus, teachers guide the pupils in a
more or less rigid way, talking or keeping as silent as possible. In the Silent
Way, a completely collaborative ambience is favoured among the students, who
help each other and have a very active role, despite it often consists in
correcting the own errors, while the teacher communicates by the use of his
visual instruments (sound-colour charts, word charts, ...), what might deviate
learners’ attention. In the Oxbridge method, L23 teaching is seen through the
needs and application of students, so they learn in realistic situations, what
helps them to link the structures and vocabulary to their real life. Blackboards
are not an element in the classes, in order to focus on the activities.