Suggestopedia

Suggestopedia is a teaching method which is based on a modern understanding of how the human brain works and how we learn most effectively. It was developed by the Bulgarian doctor and psychotherapist Georgi Lozanov (see right). The term ‘Suggestopedia’, derived from suggestion and pedagogy, is often used loosely to refer to similar accelerated learning approaches. However, Lozanov reserves the title strictly for his own method, and he has his own training and certification facilities.

Suggestopedia was originally applied mainly in foreign language teaching, and it is often claimed that it can teach languages approximately three times as quickly as conventional methods. It is now applied in several other fields, and its central ideas inspired the development of my own Brainware workshops. Another revolutionary language teacher who developed his own distinctive methods was the late Michel Thomas, his numerous famous clients including: Woody Allen, Bob Dylan and Eddie Izzard.Key Elements of Suggestopedia.

Some of the key elements of Suggestopedia include a rich sensory learning environment (pictures, colour, music, etc.), a positive expectation of success and the use of a varied range of methods: dramatised texts, music, active participation in songs and games, etc.

Suggestopedia adopts a carefully structured approach, using four main stages as follows

Presentation

A preparatory stage in which students are helped to relax and move into a positive frame of mind, with the feeling that the learning is going to be easy and fun.

First Concert – “Active Concert”

This involves the active presentation of the material to be learnt. For example, in a foreign language course there might be the dramatic reading of a piece of text, accompanied by classical music.

Second Concert – “Passive Review”

The students are now invited to relax and listen to some Baroque music, with the text being read very quietly in the background. The music is specially selected to bring the students into the optimum mental state for the effortless acquisition of the material.

Practice

The use of a range of games, puzzles, etc. to review and consolidate the learning.

Strategy of Suggestopedia

English Skill Level: Beginning to Intermediate

Grade Level: Elementary to Adult (although adults who dislike background noise may find

Suggestopedia frustrating)

  • Students sit in comfortable armchairs in a semicircle to create a relaxed atmosphere.
  • The teacher reads or speaks a new text in harmony with the music.
  • Students read the text that has been translated into the target language at the same time as the teacher says it in the native language.
  • There is a period of silence.
  • Next, the teacher repeats the text while the students listen but do not look at the text.
  • At the end, students silently leave the classroom.
  • Students are told to read the text quickly once before going to bed and once after getting up in the morning.

Strengths of Suggestopedia

  • Some of the relaxation methods, including background music, may be helpful to students.

Weaknesses of Suggestopedia

  • The method requires a class in which all the students share the same first language.
  • It does not address speaking and writing.
  • It is not communicative or creative.
  • The majority of language acquisition researchers feel that Suggestopedia does not work.
  • Few classrooms have comfortable armchairs.
  • Some students may be bothered instead of relaxed by background music.