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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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10. Learning a Foreign Language the Silent Way


The previous chapter reported data that looked at Silent Way teaching predominantly from the teachers’ perspectives, but also reported on how the students experienced aspects that related to the teaching as such. This chapter reports data that relate mainly to the learning experiences of the students. The chapter starts by reporting the views of the Silent Way teachers about learning and learners. This seems to be of significance because their perspectives on how languages are learned determined the way they taught.

The next section begins with a more general summary of the students’ experiences and then moves on to report data related to the students’ assessment of specific aspects of the Silent Way. The attitudes the students displayed towards the materials will be explored. The chapter then reports data that give an indication of the learners’ motivation, their energy levels, and their relationship to their own autonomy. The way learners experienced the classroom climate will be reported. Any other data related to previous language learning experiences or how the students’ attitudes changed as a consequence of the learning experience with the Silent Way will conclude this chapter. While this chapter concentrates mainly on the perspectives of the students, it is impossible to report the student data in isolation because their views only make sense in relation to the teachers’ perspectives. The Silent Way teachers’ statements will therefore sometimes be reiterated to serve as a background from which the students’ statements can be interpreted. In this chapter...

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