PROCEDURES OF SUGGESTOPEDIA

Even though the Suggestopedia is a method in general teaching, Lazanov suggest three principles of the suggestopedia lesson in a foreign language: the pre-session phase, the session phase, and the past-session phase.

The pre-session phase takes about 15 to 20 minutes. In this phase the students are made familiar with the key topics of the new materials for the first time. The organization of this “first encounter” is of particular importance in creating a positive mind set for reserve capacities. A great part of the material is memorized during this phase. The teacher explains the new material very briefly, i.e., deciphers the thematic dialogue in a few supporting points. In doing this, he must suggest through his behaviour that the assimilation has begun and all is pleasant and easy. Already during the deciphering, which is a stage of giving the primary information, the following stages should be noted: fixation, reproduction, and new creative production.

The session phase comprises the session itself, which has already been described above. It last for 45 minutes, and with it the day’s lesson always come to an end. The post-session phase is devoted to various elaborations of the materials to activate its assimilation.

The elaborations comprise reading and translation of the text, song, games, an extra text (a monologue), retelling, and conversation on given themes. All this merges into role-playing should take place only when the students themselves express the wish to do it. The activaton must be spontaneous. Thus the teaching and learning acquires sense and meaning (Lozanov, 1982: 158).

 

The principles suggested in the suggestopedic lesson can be developed in a wide range of techniques. The following is a procedure of Suggestopedia in teaching a foreign language introduce by Larsen-Freeman (1986) and supported by the writer’s experience when Dorothy taught a foreign language to show how the method works at the School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont, USA, in 1987.

The students are seated in cushioned armchairs that are arranged in a semicircle facing the front of the room. The lighting is dim. There in soft music playing. There are several posters on the walls. Most of them are travel posters. Some posters contain grammatical information.

The teacher greets the student in the target language (German) tell them in English in that they are about to begin a new and exciting experience in language learning.

Eith the music playing the teacher invites the students to close their eyes and to become aware of their breathing. She says almost in whisper “In, our, in, out”. She then invites the students to take an imaginary trip with her. She tells them that they are going to Germany. She will be their guide. She describe the air plane flight, what they will see when they first land and how they will feel in the airport. She tells them to listen to the German all around them and to feel themselves replaying fluently in German to questions posed to them by the customs and immigration officials. “Now,“  she says ”slowly bring your awareness back to this room, its sound and its smells. When you are ready, open your eyes. Welcome to German” (Larsen-Freeman, 1986: 72-77 and 2001).

The introduction process in teaching a foreign language mentioned above seems to refer to the nonconscous and nonrational plane. The teacher attempts to suggest psychological barriers the learners bring in their mind by providing a relaxed and comfortable learning environment. This technique is believed to have power to penetrate the unconsciousness of the learners. The teacher also assures the learners that they will be successful learners; the teacher speaks in an authoritative way. This technique is meant to suggest childlike interaction. This state is called infantilisation (Stevick, 1976: 156). This method uses a wide variety of meants to help the students to achieve the childlike openness, plasticity and creativity.

Next, the teacher tells that during the course the students will create an imaginary biography about the life of their new identity. But for now, she says, they should just choose a profession to go with the new name. Using pantomime to help the students understand, the teacher acts out various occupations, such as pilot, singer, carpenter, and artist. The student choose what they want to be.

The teacher greets each student using his new name and asks him a few questions in German about his new occupation. Through her actions the students understand the meaning and reply yes or no in German. She then teaches them a short German dialog in which two people greet each other and inquire what each other does for a living. After practicing the dialog with the group and with individual students, the teacher tells the class to pretend that they are each at a party where they don’t know anyone. The students stand up and walk around the room, greeting one another (Larsen-Freeman, 1986: 74 and 2000).

 

By having new identity, the learners feel more secure because they can hide their real life. They can be open in expressing whatever they want since they have no secret in communication; they are pretending so that whatever they say is not their real life. By having a party, they also have fun in learning a foreign language. Lots of play, fun, imagination, and humor are the characteistics of the optimal learning environment (Dorothy, 1981: 30). The idea if role playing with new identity is to bypass the left brain and permits the right brain to intake the target language. This can relax the resistance to language acquisition that comes from the critical thingking of the left hemisphere. It is believed that the left hemisphere constantly advises us that we should stick to what we know (Ashers, 1988:228-229).

Next, She distribute a handout that contains a lengthy dialog. She has the students turn the page. In the left is the German dialog and in the right is the English translation. The handout also contain vocabulary items and explanation about the grammar that the students will encounter in the dialog. The teacher reads the dialog and the learners listen to the reading. The students are allowed to read the translation on the left of the page. The class continues with the practice of communicating in the target language by singing German songs or other games.

Lozanov also describes the main part of a Suggestopedia language class. This is the last part of the three distinct parts in language class (cited in Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 151).

At the beginning of the session, all conversation stops for a minute or two, and the teacher listens to the music coming from a tape-recorder. He waits and listens to several passages in order to enter into the mood of the music and then begins to read or recite the new text, his voice modulated in harmony with the musical phrases. The students follow the text in their textbooks where each lesson is translated into the mother tongue. Between the first and the second part of the concert, there are several minutes of solemn silence. In some cases, even longer pauses can be given to permit the students to stir a little. Before the beginning of the second part of the concert, there are again several minutes of silence, and some phrases of the music are heard before the teacher begins to read the text. Now the students close their textbooks and listen to the teacher’s reading. At the end, the students silently leave the room. They are not told to do any homework on the lesson the have just had except for reading it cursorily once before going to bed and again before getting up in the morning.

Suggestopedia has been criticized. As noted by Scovel (cited in Brown, 1987:141), Lozanov’s experimental data on the success of language learning were highly questionable. The practicality of using Suggestopedia is also questionable since in this method language teacher requires comfortable chairs and music which are often not available. Scovel only suggests that language teachers must try to exrract from the insights of the method and adapt those insights to their teaching contexts.

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