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Book Review Form

Working with Teaching Methods: What's at Stake?


Earl W. Stevick (1998)
The purpose of this task is to focus on a particular area of interest and gain in-depth knowledge about the
relevant theory and practice.

Be as specific and as detailed as possible when describing your learning from the resource.

 Why did you choose to pursue this resource? What was your primary learning objective?

Actually, I didn’t choose this book. It was recommended by the academic director. Anyway, I think
that it was a good choice because I am interested in having some more insight into teaching methods and
which of them would be suitable for students at ICPNARC. I’d like to put it to the test a few times and
see how well it works.
My primary learning objective when I chose this books was mainly to have some knowledge about
the language learning process, possibly some fresh approaches, and what it can offer me as a teacher.

 Please provide a summary of the resource. Describe the main points and conclusions.

The author Earl W. Stevick (1998) writes about the areas of learning and the processes of the mind
that most of us take for granted. It gives us a nice overview of teaching methodologies and the approaches
and attitudes behind them.

This book is not about teaching methods (Stevick discusses Counseling Learning, the Silent Way, and
Suggestopedia) but about the language learning process, and the fresh approaches on that process each of
these three methods offers language teachers.

At first, the book itself is a slow starter and a little boring. The first four chapters scaffold us for the
focus of the later chapters, but for those with little background in studies of the mind's processes, it can be
hard to understand, so my summary will be focused on the three ways.

The three ways mentioned in this book:

 Counseling learning "understanding"

 The Community-Learning method and its principles were developed by Charles A.


Curran.

 The objective is to consider students as "whole persons", where their feelings, intellect,
interpersonal relationships, protective reactions, and desire to learn are addressed and
balanced. Students typically sit in a circle, with the teacher (as counselor) outside the
ring. They use their first language to develop an interpersonal relationship based on trust
with the other students. When a student wants to say something, they first say it in their
native language, which the teacher then translates back to them using the target
language. The student then attempts to repeat the English used by the teacher, and then a
student can respond using the same process. This technique is used over a considerable
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period of time, until students are able to apply words in the new language without
translation, gradually moving from a situation of dependence on the teacher-counselor to
a state of independence.

 In the beginning experience knowing and feeling are closely intertwined with each other.
Both the "knower"/teacher and the learner are responsible for bringing to the language
learning task the resources that they alone possess. This is a relationship with a constantly
shifting equilibrium, not a relationship of fixed roles. Power is evenly distributed
between the "knower" and the learner.

 It is neither student-centered not teacher-centered but rather teacher-student centered with


both making decisions in the class. Building a relationship with and among students is
very important. In a trusting relationship, the threat that students feel is reduced, and non-
defensive learning is promoted. Students learn from their interaction with the teacher. A
spirit of cooperation, not competition must prevail. At times the teacher facilitates the
students' ability to express themselves, and at times the teacher is in-charge and providing
direction. Thus the nature of student-teacher interaction changes within the lesson and
over time.

 The silent way “awareness"

 In language learning/acquisition learners use their thinking processes - cognition - to


discover the rules of the language they are acquiring, by formulating hypotheses. Errors
are inevitable and are signs that the learners are testing their hypotheses. Learners are
actively responsible for their own learning. "Teaching should be subordinated to
learning". Caleb Gattengo is the originator of the Silent Way.

 The objective if this method is make Students use the language for self-expression i.e. to
express their thoughts, perceptions, and feelings. Learners need to develop independence
from the teacher and develop their own criteria for correctness.

 For much of the student-teacher interaction, the teacher is silent. He is still very active,
however, setting up situations to "force awareness", listening attentively to students'
speech, and silently working with them on their production. When the teacher does speak,
it is to give clues, not to model the language.

 Suggestopedia "concentrated psych relation"

 Suggestopedia was developed by Georgi Lozanov. Stevick describes this method as "not a
fixed system, but only an area of Dr. Lozanov's ongoing research".

 Ideally courses are conducted in a comfortable room with Baroque music to ensure a
relaxing environment. The use of soft Baroque music to help increase alpha brain waves
and decrease blood pressure and heart rate, "desuggestion" in terms of the psychological
barriers. Learners can remove inhibiting tensions among themselves so that success at
language learning is ensured.

 Teachers hope to accelerate the process by which students learn to use a foreign language
for everyday communication. The principal strategy employed by this method is to
"desuggest" the limitations of students and to suggest how easy it will be for them to
succeed at language learning.

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 Learning involves the unconscious as well as the conscious functions. People can learn
much faster than they usually do. Learning is held back by the lack of a harmonious and
relaxed learner.

Conclusion:

These three methods might appear to practitioners a little difficult and might take a lot of time
and practice to have a deep knowledge and understanding of them; however, in time they will be
able to adjust themselves to one that they find most adequate. It is clear now that the author has
focused on the insights that each of these methods can provide the teacher, and how the teacher
has insights, technical skill, and discipline such as each of these methods can provide. It won’t be
an easy trip for a teacher who dares to read this book, but the rewards at the end are well worth
the investment of time and thought.

 Which specific concepts were new to you in this resource?

The specific concepts that were new to me were the three ways. I use them in class, but I didn’t know the
appropriate terms. (Community Language Learning, the Silent Way, and Suggestopedia)

 Suggestopedia provides some valuable insights into the power of cognition and creating and
employing techniques that make students feel comfortable and relaxed, and "suggestible" to the
material being learned.

 The silent way encourages the teacher to assume a distance that prevents him/her from providing
direct guidance when at times such guidance would be helpful.

 Community Language Learning is certainly unique in that it is one of the first methods to be
developed that really focused on the feelings of the students and tried to address affective factors
in learning

 How were the concepts similar to or different from your own prior knowledge?

I was familiar with some of the features of these three methods, however, I had no idea what method I
was using in class or what they were called. (Community Language Learning, the Silent Way, and
Suggestopedia), so I think that my concepts are both similar and different at the same time to my own
prior knowledge.

 What were the most valuable learning experiences of this resource?

I think the most valuable learning experience is reading about the three ways and how important they
are among teachers and students. Now that I have some more insight into these three methods, I will
be even more aware of when to use them, how to use them, and why to use them, however, it will take
time for me to use them fluently.

 How will this professional development (PD) experience influence your teaching? Provide two
or more examples.

This experience will influence my teaching a lot. Here there are some examples:

 By using the Suggestopedia approach, I can use Baroque music in class, especially,
whenever we have writing and speaking activities. According to what I read, it increases
the alpha brain waves and decreases blood pressure and heart rate. Thanks to this,

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students will be able to remove inhibiting tensions among themselves and language
learning will take place effectively.

 I would like to use the Silent Way Approach when teaching grammar. I would have
students discover the rules of the language they are acquiring, but by making them be
aware of their errors for themselves, their learning will be more meaningful. Learners are
actively responsible for their own learning. "Teaching should be subordinated to
learning". Caleb Gattengo is the originator of the Silent Way.

 I am not so sure about the Counseling Learning because it is said that I have to use L1
and that’s not what ICPNARC is after, I think.

 Based on this PD, please describe in detail at least three additional professional development
needs or learning goals that you have for the future.

I think that I find a way to use the Counseling-Learning in class or at least readjust it. I am sure that
this method has a lot of potential.
I’ve been sort of using the Silent Way Approach in some learning activities, but I am going to find out
about it a lot more. My goal would be to have learners develop independence from the teacher and
develop their own criteria for correctness.
At ICPNARC, we use the five pillars and teachers are aware of them, but it would be advisable if
they become aware of these three methods as well and know how they feel about them and whether or not
we could tap into them.

This form has been adapted from “TESOL Certificate Advanced Practitioner”

http://tesl-ej.org/ej16/toc.html