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Suggestopedia

aduniad cariadiaithOver the years Popeth Cymraeg has pioneered the field of Alternative Language Teaching Methodologies in Wales. We have studied numerous methods to see which ones are, in our opinion, the most effective and have come to the conclusion that the most fruitful method which we have encountered is Suggestopaedia. We offer Sugggestopaedic Welsh classes (termed Unlimited Learning Courses) to adults in North East Wales with the full support of the National Centre for Teaching Welsh. We are the only organisation in Wales qualified to do this

Ioan Talfryn, Popeth Cymraeg’s Chief Executive was trained in Suggestopaedia by the founder of the method, Dr. Georgi Lozanov. He attended extended training sessions over a number of weeks in Austria and Bulgaria. Dr. Lozanov also came to Wales for a fortnight to train him up to trianer level meaning that he is qualified to train new tutors. For a number of years he was the Vice-Chairman of the International association set up by Dr. Lozanov to promote the method, LITA (Lozanov International Trainers Association).
 

What are the origins of Suggestopaedia?

It was originally pioneered by Bulgarian Psychologist Dr.Georgi Lozanov back in the seventies. It has now spread all over the world. The Americans took the concept and repackaged it as 'Accelerated Learning’.
 
The reason we at Popeth Cymraeg have taken an interest in it is because it was reported to be a far more effective means of teaching languages than other methods. We have run numerous Suggestopaedic Welsh courses and the student response and achievement and our own comparisons with other methods support this.

In what way is Suggestopedia different from other methods of teaching languages?

Other methods basically aim to gradually introduce or'teach’ certain limited, predetermined elements of a language to students, either grammatical structures or language functions. Suggestopaedia‘s main aim is to liberate students from internal mental blocks so that they can 'acquire’ a language in a more open ended fashion the same way that young children do.
 

How does it achieve this aim?

There are basically four steps in Suggestopedia.
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a) Desuggestion and Resuggestion
 
Many students come in to a language learning situation in Britain not really believing that they can learn another language. The reason for this can be social (i.e. multilingualism is not considered normal in Britain as it is in other parts of the world) or it can be personal (i.e. they had a bad experience with learning languages at school). The Suggestopedic teacher has to gradually, and unobtrusively, get the students to change their self-perception and adopt a more positive mental attitude and heightened expectations.
 
b) Leading the students into the appropriate mental and emotional state.
 
The behaviour of the teacher and the use of music, games and other activities is directed towards the creation of a communal state of relaxed, stress free and happy concentration - such as when you’re immersed in your favourite hobby.
 
c) Subconscious 'Loading’ of large amounts of language.
 
This is done via two language `concerts’ which use Baroque and Romantic Classical Music, a large text in the form of an ongoing emotionally interesting story and peripherals on the walls.
 
ch)  Activating the language.

Bringing the language which has been subconsciously 'loaded’ up into the conscious domain through text manipulation, games, songs, activities, movement and all kinds of sensory stimulation.

This, of course, is very much like how small children are taught. It also fits in with what we know about language acquisition.
 

The Basics of language acquisition

 
  • Comprehension normally precedes and greatly exceeds the ability to produce language
  • Linguistic 'errors' are not signs of failure since they are a step forward in a normal developmental sequence.
  • Grammar is best acquired unconsciously, as if by osmosis. It can, however, be consolidated consciously.
  • Human beings are genetically predisposed to acquire languages as long as they get linguistic input which is sufficient in volume and complexity. (See also the paper entitled Ants in My Head in the section Articles About Suggestopaedia which discusses Suggestopaedia from the point of view of Complexity Theory - it’s not as complex as it sounds, honestly.)
 

Outline Of Suggestopaedic Learning Cycle

 

1.  Adoption of New Aliases.

Every member of an Unlimited Learning / Suggestopaedic course takes on a new name and identity such as Lowri Bowen from Dowlais who is a Clown Proffesiynol or Brychan Ap Llywarch from Dinbych who is a Chwaraewr Snwcer. This is done in a light-hearted manner but the reasoning behind it is very serious. Every lesson, the tutor and the other students only use these names when they talk to you and the subtle suggestion, therefore, is that you are already a Welsh speaker. It’s a bit like Olympic athletes repeatedly imagining themselves crossing the finishing line to win a race. In our experience the students on Unlimited Learning courses who embrace their new identity the most tend also to be the most successful learners.

 

2. Pre-exposure to the Core Language Elements.

The first year Welsh Suggestopaedic course is based around a play in 12 Acts. At the beginning of every act the tutor acts out the story which the class will be reading later on. This is a bit like putting on a primer before you paint a wooden surface. The first act is the longest and introduces a large amount of vocabulary and grammar.

 

3. Active Concert.

The students receive a copy of the act (together with an English translation) and the tutor reads the act to the background of Mozart, Beethoven or other Romantic composers. The combination of music and words is actually more memorable than words on their own (as every nursery school teacher knows). This could be considered the undercoat.

 

Break

 

4. Passive Concert.

The text is read once again but this time to the background of Baroque music. The students do not read the text this time, they merely listen and follow. This is the first top coat.

This is the end of the first lesson in every act cycle. Students will have taken in a lot of language but this now needs to settle. Sleep is essential in enabling the brain to start organising all the linguistic input which it has received. All we ask the students to do is to read the act before going to sleep as if they were reading a short story (using the English translation where necessary).

 

5. Text Activisations.

During the following lessons the tutor will utilise a wide range of activities aimed at bringing the language which was initially presented and ingested by the students to the surface. This is done by playing around with the text itself and also by using parts of the text as a springboard to communicating in the language. The important thing is to allow the language to emerge naturally.

The initial aim is to help students develop their understanding of the language and then stimulate their ability to express themselves freely. This process is like adding on extra layers of top coat and going back once in a while to sand the coat down before adding on another layer. We zoom in on bits of grammar once in a while but only once the students have been exposed to the grammar many times previously. Constant refinement is what eventually leads to mastery of the language.

 

One other thing – the Suggestopaedic classes should be fun and relaxing whilst being totally focused on helping students master the Welsh language. Dr. Lozanov used to describe the approach as one of “Serious Jocularity”. If you watch the videos of the Cariad@iaith lessons (see below) we think that you will see that both aspects, the fun and the seriousness, are intertwined in the planning and presentation of each lesson.

 

Suggestopaedia on Television

Over a 5 year period S4C (Channel 4 Wales) broadcast a series entitled Cariad@iaith a reality television show following the journey taken by groups of learners (celebrities and ordinary members of the public) as they spend a week in a secluded location learning and using their Welsh. The course used on these programmes every year was a new Suggestopaedic beginners Welsh course designed by Ioan Talfryn of Popeth Cymraeg and taught by Ioan and TV presenter and tutor Nia Parry. To watch the lessons upon which the last series was based and download the course materials in Welsh and English click on this link Cariad@iaith. The recordings of the lessons have not been doctored in any way and reflect the actual learning experiences of the students. They are an accurate depiction of the teaching approach and plethora of light hearted activities which form the core of a Suggestopaedic Welsh course.


Note on Terminology. Suggestopaedia is sometimes referred to as De-Suggestopaedia since Dr. Lozanov, in his later years, felt that some people had misunderstood the purpose of the method. Its primary aim is to liberate learners from negative, culturally acquired preconceptions as to the limits of their learning abilities (what he termed social suggestive norms) hence his addition of the prefix De-. Since a great deal of literature had already been published concerning Suggestopaedia, however, the change in name never really spread widely and most people still refer to the method as Suggestopaedia.


For a collection of more in-depth articles on Suggestopaedia click here Articles About Suggestopaedia .

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Popeth Cymraeg is an unique organisation, established by Welsh learners for Welsh learners