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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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My gratitude extends to everyone who has encouraged me and believed in my capacities. The four teachers and their students deserve a special mention because they gave me their time, energy and trust. My research supervisor, Ken Eltis, has assisted me by always being approachable. My friend Sabine stimulated my philosophical thoughts and entertained me with her positive sense of humour. My good friend Mark provided invaluable emotional support. My friends, Alexandra and Leisa, spent many days finding mistakes in the text. Most importantly, I am grateful to my husband, Robert Mayze, whose patient presence has kept me going when I experienced self-doubts. My deep appreciation also includes my parents, who were my first teachers, and my brother, who was my first student. To all of them and numerous others who played a role in the writing of this book, I wish to say “thank you”.

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