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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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6. Research Methodology


The literature review has illustrated that the Silent Way as a pedagogical approach that is based on energy and awareness, has not received sufficient attention. The majority of researchers look at the Silent Way as a teaching method without taking into consideration the underlying evolutionary model and the learning theory that Gattegno developed. Silent Way teaching; however, can usually not take place unless teachers have an understanding of the theory on which it is based. Gattegno did not prescribe Silent Way teaching methods or offer lesson plans because, by its very nature, a class in which teaching is subordinated to learning is difficult to describe. Interested teachers need to find a way to translate his theory into Silent Way teaching practices. The literature review exposed several areas of limited knowledge that were translated into five research questions.

6.1. Research Questions

1. How do Silent Way teachers describe the manner in which second languages are acquired? What aims are explicit in their classroom practice?

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