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Integration of the Self and Awareness (ISA) in Learning and Teaching

A case study of French adult students learning English the Silent Way

Patricia Benstein

The successful acquisition of a second or foreign language requires focus, motivation, and positive feedback. This case study of French adult students of English illustrates that Gattegno’s Silent Way is more than a teaching methodology. It is a science of education that integrates the self and awareness in the learning and teaching processes. This integration facilitates the personal evolution of Gattegno’s ‘pre-human’ to the ‘universal human’ who is permanently aware of his/her awareness. The resulting experience of ‘flow’ leads to a positive feedback loop that in turn contributes to the student’s enjoyment of acquiring a second language.

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3. Gattegno’s Theoretical Models

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This chapter serves as an introduction to Gattegno’s main ideas on evolution, the nature of the human being and of learning. It is intended to offer the theoretical background to the Silent Way courses in Besançon.

In this critical review Gattegno’s understanding of the nature of learning will be discussed. Only those aspects of Gattegno’s theories that are directly relevant to the present study are presented here. The following section will relate closely to Young’s work. As her thesis is written in French and is thus not easily accessible to many, the most significant parts of her work relevant to the present investigation will be translated and reviewed in detail. One account of Gattegno’s evolutionary model in English has been offered by Rice (1987), while Young’s work is the most complete exposition of the whole of Gattegno’s work in French. The following chapter thus serves several functions. It introduces the reader to Gattegno’s model and reviews at the same time the work of the four most important researchers of Gattegno’s work. For the English reader it makes the work of Young accessible.

There are two main sets of ideas presented in this chapter that are relevant to the current research. First, Gattegno’s model of evolution provides the platform from which his theories on learning can be considered. Second, the Silent Way is the practical application of Gattegno’s learning theories in the area of second and foreign language learning. Without the broader perspective of...

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