by Tetyana Skrypkina
Suggestopedia is a method developed by the Bulgarian psychiatrist-educator Georgi Lozanov. It is considered to be the strangest of the “humanistic approaches”. Lozanov describes as a “science … concerned with the systematic study of the nonrational and/or nonconscious influences’ that human beings are constantly responding to (Stevick 1976: 42). The clearest characteristics of Suggestopedia are the decoration, furniture and arrangement of the classroom, the use of music, and the authorative behavior of the teacher.
The method seems to be accelerated 25 times over that in learning by conversational methods” (Lozanov 1978: 27).
All students (SS) can be taught a given subject matter at the same level of skill. Lozanov claims that his method works equally well whether or not students spend time on outside study.
Lozanov believes most learning takes place in a relaxed but focused state.
A most conspicuous feature of Suggestopedia is the certainty of music and musical rhythm to learning.
One of the earliest attested uses of music therapy is recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible: “When the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took up his harp and played with his hand; so Saul found relief; and it was well with him, and the evil spirit departed from him” (1 Samual 12:23).
People remember best and are most influenced by information coming from an authoritative source. Authority is also used to suggest a teacher-student relation like that of parent to child.
In the first presentation of linguistic material three phrases are read together, each with different voice level and rhythm. In the second presentation the linguistic material is given a proper dramatic reading, which helps learners visualize a context for a material and aids in memorization (Bancroft 1972).
Music is vital for the approach. The following composers from the baroque epoch
(XVIIth c.), recommended by Andrea Rohmert as suitable for suggestopedic learning, which contain Largo movements: Johann Sebastian Bach, Arcangelo Corelli, Georg Friedrich Händel, Johann Pachelbel, Georg Philipp Telemann, Antonio Vivaldi. Baroque “Largo” movements help the suggestopedic student to reach a certain state of relaxation, which increases receptivity. Experiments by Lozanov and his successors in both Europe and America showed that the following criteria have to be met by a music work to be useful for suggestopedic learning. The music that we want to use should have “largo” tempo (approx. 60 beats/min).
“Plants grown in the chambers given Baroque music by Bach and Indian music by Ravi Shankar rapidly grew lush and abundant … the plants in the chamber getting rock music shriveled and died” (1979).
Syllabus à a Suggestopedia course lasts thirty days and consists of ten units of study. Classes are held four hours a day, six days a week. The central focus of each unit is a dialogue consisting of 1200 words or so, with an accompanying vocabulary list and grammatical commentary.
Unit study is organized around three days:
Day 1 – half a day
Day 2 – full day
Day 3 – half day
SS are given a new name in the 2nd language and a new biography in the 2nd language culture with which they are to operate for the duration of the course.
Smoking and drinking are prohibited or discouraged in class and around the school during the course.
Speaking from personal experience, Charles Adamson says: “In the three hours we learned the Russian alphabet, the basic sentence structure, and 156 words. On the test at the end of the class I got 98%”.
- Suggestopedia, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suggestopedia
- SUGGESTOPEDIA – A WONDER APPROACH TO LEARNING FOREIGN LANGUAGES? Prep. univ. Gabriela Mihăilă-Lică
- Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching, J C. Richards and T. S. Rodgers