The underlying 'humanistic value' is to engage the whole person of the learner.
Carl Rogers ('Client-Centred Therapy' and Freedom to Learn') argued that we, as teachers, should focus on each person and learner not only as a physical, cognitive being, but rather as a being that is mainly emotional (the affective factor).
Therefore, we should be focusing on learning, rather than teaching.

Everything that is in some way personally significant to the learner will engage their whole person, and this will lead to 'deep' learning.
This may mean any or all of the following:

- what they are learning (language? skill? etc.)
- how they are learning (method? activity? etc.)
- the attitude and behaviour of the teacher towards them
- the attitude and behaviour of other students towards them
- an appropriate level of learning space / time
- the relevance of the lesson to their interests / needs
- the relevance of the lesson to their expectations
- the degree of participation expected of them
- the degree to which they feel valued as individuals, etc.

All the so-called 'humanistic methods' make claims to be humanistic. But each claim is limited.

The Silent Way - the learner must take responsibility.
Community Language Learning - the group decides what to learn.
Suggestopaedia - aims to reduce anxiety / threat by creating a 'non-threatening' learning environment.
Total Physical Response (TPR)- aims to engage the learner physically putting them under no pressure and allowing them to speak only when they are ready.

Ultimately, it is attitude not technique that makes a humanistic teacher.