The Verbotonal Method

Basic Concepts of the Verbotonal Method – A Stimulus-Response Technique

A main principle of the Verbotonal method involves the use of a stimulus-response procedure in the basic learning situation. The stimulus (speech) is produced with natural rhythm and intonation. The elicited response is viewed as an indication of the patient’s perception of the stimulus.

Correct perception is facilitated by analyzing the response and modifying the stimulus as necessary. The process of analysis and modification is done in terms of the following parameters of speech:

  • frequency (pitch)
  • intensity (loudness)
  • time (duration or timing)
  • tension
  • pause
  • intonation
  • rhythm
The stimulus-response technique allows evaluation of the effectiveness of the presentation, and thus, the best condition for perception. This technique will help the clinician/teacher/therapist provide the optimum structure of the presentation for the best condition for the reception of the stimulus. The optimum structure and condition for perception of a particular stimulus will change as a result of the refining of auditory perception through continued training. The ultimate goal of the stimulus-response therapy technique is to make the optimum listening condition similar to the optimum for a normal hearing person.

Petar Guberina, Founder of the Verbotonal Method

Dr. Petar Guberia (1913-2005) graduated from the University of Zagreb with a degree in French and Latin 1935. He continued his studies at the Sorbonne in France, where he earned his doctorate in 1939.

His thesis, prepared under the supervision of Professor P. Fouche, and in particular Professor Marouzeau, was titled “Logic and stylistic values in complex propositions.” This work paved the way for genuine linguistic analysis of the speech, with particular emphasis at the outset on the importance of rhythm, intonation and gestures as optimal factors in the structuring, and consequently the acquisition, of languages. The work provided him contact, which proved to be significant, with the Geneva School (F. de Saussure – Piaget).

He was a Professor at the College of Arts and Literature at the University of Zagreb from 1951 to 1983. He then began as Professor of French and Head of the Romance Languages Department (1951 – 1965). In 1954, he founded the Phonetics Institute and in 1965, the Phonetics Department of which he became the Head at the time of his retirement in 1983, and where he devoted his time to research.

Professor Petar Guberina’s research on “the Linguistics of the Speech” revolutionized the learning of modern languages and resulted in the Global-Structural Audiovisual Method (SGAV) developed with P. Rivenc of CREDIF.

Among his notable achievements are the following:

  • Doctorate University of Paris (1939)
  • Honorary Head Department of Romance Language Studies
  • Tenured professor of French and Phonetics, University of Zagreb
  • Member of the Academy of Arts and Science of Croatia
  • Scientific Advisor SUVAG Centre of Zagreb