Suggestopedia Italia

Vai ai contenuti

Venice Seminar 1999


The Basis of Suggestopedia
and its
New Development: Desuggestive Learning

Venice 4-5 December 1999
Lecturer: dr Georgi Lozanov, author of the Method

I am a psychiatrist. Working with my patients many years ago I realized that they were able to remember much more than they could even imagine and that they had an enormous potential to develop their personalities. I also realized that thanks to these capacities - that I called "reserve capacities" they were able to reach excellent results without fatigue. At the beginning of my research I didn't believe it myself. I am going to talk to you about my theories and you are free to decide if they are right or not.

When I started my research I began my experiments with a "psychological " experiment: the memorization of several hundreds words. Some journalists came to see my experiments, then they wrote their articles and thanks to them I realized that people tend to believe more in what journalists say than in my own books.

The first manual about Suggestopedia was published in Italy in 1989 (Bulzoni Editore) and later also in Sweden and in the United States. Many teachers, I dare say the 99% of the teachers who claim to apply my method, have not even read this book. They base their teaching on articles about relaxation, hypnosis, magic,…and also some scientists do the same! In fact the Italian edition has a preface - written by professor Shiffler - which has nothing to do with the content of the book itself when it speaks about "guided fantasies", "breathing exercises", "relaxation exercises" and so on. That's why teachers were misleaded.

In 1972 more than 20 articles were published against me. Thanks to this I had the opportunity to defend myself and clearly say what I exactly meant. In my future book I will thank those journalists for this, as they gave me the opprtunity to make more research. I survived and now the number of teachers practising Suggestopedia has dramatically increased. But the method must be applied correctly. What is important is not the "techniques", but the "method". Some teachers use some ideas taken from Suggestopedia, but to use the method correctly teachers need to be properly trained.

First of all the aim of Suggestopedia is to help our students to establish their own hierarchy and find out and choose what is really important, less important or useless for them to learn. I prefer to start explaining what is NOT Suggestopedia. It is NOT a method of relaxation, expacially guided relaxation. In our method relaxation is naturally obtained, but relaxation is not sufficient to obtain results in learning.

From 1980 to 1989 I was not permitted to go abroad by the Bulgarian Government. In the meantime in Germany and in the United States my method was developed without my contribution and my consent with some distortions. The method was advertised as Superlearning or Accelerated Learning and included the use of a "mystical voice", breathing exercises, with the promise to become a genius.

(A short video produced in Austria to advertise the method is shown by dr Lozanov, as an example) .

I am showing this to you just to help you to avoid similar mistakes. I don't believe this can help children to develop their creativity, this can only create "couch potatoes" - as the Americans say, like the people who watch soap operas all day.

The market at the moment is full of hypnotic music, based on a mono-tone. This can be dangerous for some students and cannot lead to expand creativity. The same is when the teacher has a monotonous voice. He should ask him/herself what sort of effect he/she has on his/her students.

I believe that Suggestopedia is Normalpedia, where the teacher doesn't play like an actor on a stage, he is normal, he doesn't suggest, he doesn't press. I believe that in twenty, thirty, or fifty years the "reserve capacities" which are now repressed and limited will be fully developed and people will be able to see and touch what they can achieve. Sorry, no magic here!

The word Suggestopedia derives from "to suggest" in the sense of "to propose" in the sense that we give the students the possibility to choose, which is what we have every day, when in normal life we are surrounded by a lot of different "suggestions" to choose from. The same should happen in the classroom, the students should always be able to choose. On the market there are various "magic pills": if you lie on the floor…, if you listen to a special kind of music…, if you increase the "alpha waves"… you will memorize everything. This is NOT Suggestopedia. In our courses every session starts and finishes with some music, always strictly linked with the content of the course, but it is always classical music.

Suggestopedia is a "state dependent method". Many teachers think that they have to know what they teach, but they do not take into account the state of mind of their students. Research shows that being in the "right" state of mind makes learning easier, I mean some level of calmness of mind. In our experiments it was difficult to establish how deep this state of calmness should be as it is something difficult to measure. It also depends on the type of personality of the learner. In our daily life we tend to take different decisions, according to our state of mind. That's why we sometimes say: "I'll decide later…let me think it over." There are theories about the fact that we have multiple personalities. Before an exam the students ask: "How's the teacher today? Is he calm?". You as a teacher have a multiple personality and the same is for your students as individuals and as a group. The problem is how to syncronize the multiple personalities of both. Sometimes we say: "I am not in the mood." It does not only depend on our emotions and we can have different emotions which determine in a different way our logical abilities. This is more complex than a technique of relaxation, because it takes into account the different personalities of each individual and in fact in our teaching we have to take into account the state of the personalities of our students. Moreover the state of mind of the teacher influences the state of mind of the students. You can't play. Your students will feel it intuitively. You can't play happiness, you have to feel it. So it is useless to go to theatre classes. You have to feel it. You have to love your work…nothing extreme or fantastic, but it works. Be natural with your students, don't play.

Of course there are also problems about the "material" to be taught. Traditionally students are given small parts of the material bit by bit., starting from simple things. The results is that then they can't fit the "small" parts into the "global structure" of the language. They can synthetize the "parts", but they can't see the "whole". By our method you not only teach, you also create personalities. What sort of personality can you create if you give only parts? This is "culture" today. People know many parts, details, but do not have "global understanding".

There are studies demonstrating that the way we learn determines the way our brain is structured. For instance the Japanese who learn to write and read with the kanji system show a different organization in the distinctive functions of the two brain emispheres, as the right emisphere becomes the logical one and the left emisphere becomes the creative one. If a japanese is born , let's say, in the Usa and learns to read and write English with our alphabet, the structure of the brain will result of the "western" type.

In Suggestopedia when we teach we give the "whole" and "the element" too, working in the conscious part of our brain but also in the paraconscious, in the long term memory. So we learn the global and the parts at the same time, in their interrelation and this has a positive effect on the whole personality. It is important to point out that we don't give homework, so when we speak about results we mean results obtained in the classroom.

Some teachers tend to mix techniques like relaxation, guided fantasies, breathing… with the traditional methods. This can't obtain long term results. The future will tell us which method is better, but we shouldn't mix the two as there are different areas of application for both.

There are at present in the USA more than 45 theses in various Universities dealing with Suggestopedia, and also in other countries; this means that the scientific basis of the method is fully recognized.

When we learn a foreign language we speak at the active level, but we memorize part of the material in a deeper part of our brain, the level of recognition and in an even deeper part which is the level of intuition. That's the way we learn, this is physiological, so we can't change it; we can only adapt our method to the learning system of our brain. When we use "oral drills", repetitions, intensive practice also in the communicative approach, we work on the "active level", bombarding the learner, and certainly as a result we improve the active use of the language. But the passive level is there and gradually we realize that the active knowledge becomes passive.

In Suggestopedia the approach is completely different. We expose our students to even 700 words in each session, right from the beginning, activating both the active and the passive level. Of course the student will actively use a smaller amount of vocabulary, but the passive knowledge will enable them to understand. The passive level could be defined as "the entrance" to the active level. Our students feel very free to communicate because they realize that their passive knowledge is there. In the traditional methods when the students tend to forget what they have learnt, we try to activate the active knowledge, bombarding them with intensive active practice. We proceed in a different way, working on all the levels and engaging all the levels, the active and the passive one.

The passive knowledge is a sort of solid base, like an iceberg, on which the active knowledge is grounded. In Suggestopedia we work on the border between the active and passive level. Therefore the training of our teachers consists in teaching them how to operate in the border line. There are perceptions which occur outside the conscious level of the students and this is the area where we have our "reserve capacities", as we call them. You might object: "aren't the students confused if they are given so many words right from the beginning?" Yes, at the beginning they are in a sort of chaos, but gradually the picture becomes clearer and clearer.

The recent development of Suggestopedia is called "Desuggestive Learning", which is based on the following principles:
a - in our brain each accepted stimulus is associated, coded and multidimentionally symbolized;
b - isolated stimuli of consciousness do not exist: conscious, paraconscious and subconscious are always together, they can't be divided;
c - our brain doesn't accept isolated stimuli, but always in a rich complexity, connected in the dynamics of the states of mind.

All this means that when we teach we teach to the whole personality of the students and therefore we have to know the basic structure of the brain. Every minute we receive conscious, paraconscious and unconscious stimuli which help us to eleborate information. I have already underlined the importance of the "state of mind" which is of vital importance to determine the results of teaching and can be explained - as far as our method is concerned - as joyful and spontaneous concentrative calmness. Calmness which of course doesn't mean to be sleeping, but calmness as concentration. Spontaneous means that it is not created, imposed or guided, it is just the result of the natural behaviour of the teacher.

The desuggestive set-up has the aim of freeing the mind, freeing the reserve capacities. The term "desuggestive" underlines the spontaneous freeing of the capabilities, with the active participation of the students. Our brain processes information as a dynamic, structured and hyerarchical globality as the part is in the global and the global in the part. The part is perceived as global, and the global as a part. I will explain this with an example. Consider - for instance - the atom and the cosmos. The cosmos can be considered a globality and the atom a part, but if we consider the structure of the atom the atom is a global and a part of the cosmos. Each element con be considered a part and a global at the same time, depending on our perspective. I want to give you another example. You walk in the street, among the crowd (the global) and you see a person (a part in the global). You fall in love with this person and this person becomes the global for you, your everything, your universe. Then you stop loving this person, you are not in love any more and this person is again a part for you. So part and global can change according to our emotions.

This theory has a practical consequence in the structure of the "teaching material" that we create for our courses where also the grammatical items are never seen as isolated, but as a part of the globality of language. In order to achieve our suggestopedic aims we use:
a - didactic means, that is the material to be studied, which is of course structured according to the principle global/part - part/global;
b - artistic means: the whole method is artistically elaborated with music, acting (of course in a natural way), the behaviour of the teacher, the use of famous images created by great artists…;
c - psychological means: as I explained before the method has a psychophysiological basis which determines the way teachers are trained and the importance for them to know the structure of the brain.

After the theory, we will examine some practical aspects. Teachers must know the theory, but practic of course is more fun. I will show you some video recordings of Dr Gateva. She didn't want to be recorded as she didn't want to become a "model" as she maintained that each teacher must have his/her own style and personality.

(The video shows the very first session of a beginners' course)

At the beginning the teacher introduces the material using simple but natural language, the one normally used in everyday conversation. Then there is the"active concert". It is called "active" because in this phase the students can read the text and take notes. The teacher reads following the music with a special intonation. The choice of the music is important (see the list I suggest in the Manual). We did hundreds of experiments about the music. Dr Gateva could sing beautifully and also wrote hundreds of songs. Our experiments showed that classical music allows to achieve better results. This will be explained in a forthcoming book called:"Creating wholeness through art" which will be published in a year's time. It is important to point out that when we decide to use a certain type of music then we have to check the results because, as we found out in the experiments in Bulgaria with thousands of adults and children. Results may widely differ according to the type of music you use. When Dr Gateva used the songs she composed, she always tested the results. She also adapted songs from famous operas like: "Il Barbiere di Siviglia", slightly changing the words.She also wrote a children opera for the teaching of maths, which was sung by famous singers.

If you have a look at the textbook of the teaching of Italian you will see that it contains not only music, but also pictures of classical Italian painters. The language used is the one you use in everyday conversation. Music and art are have proven to be highly effective in increasing memorization and the development of the students personalities. Solemness is an additional help, in fact if you give people something really memorable, absolutely exceptional, they will learn better. The music we use is the music written not only for now, but for tomorrow. Of course not everybody can sing well, but of course for this you can use a tape. Classical art creates a good state of mind and that's why we don't have discipline problems. Also singing together beautiful classical songs keeps the group together and create a collaborative attitide. Our sessions always begin and end with a song.

A consistent behaviour is necessary in the development of a Suggestopedic course. The atmosphere is set in a particular way and learners get a benefit for their whole personality. We have experimented this with thousands of people.

(A second video is shown)

In this video, as you see, the teacher enters the classroom in a very good mood, speaks freely to the students (a very large class formed by University professors of the University of Moscow) using a lot of words and frequent jokes. Here we are in the first 50 minutes of a course. A stimulating friendly relationship is established between teacher and students and the students enjoy in participating. The first session gives about 700 words. Everything seems so spontaneous and free, but of course everything is carefully planned and organized. Nothing is there by chance and everything has its own aim. At the beginning this may seem strange, but if you start using this method you will not be able to use or learn another one.

On the basis of several investigations on the part of my colleagues psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists who say that we have resources of mind much greater than we believe we can reasonably believe that these theories are true. And this is also the conclusion I reached after my experiments, that's why I decided to elaborate a method in order to exploit these reserve capacities.

In the beginning of my investigations I started working with hypnosis, then I stopped , for a lot of reasons, and I am not using hypnosis any longer now. This is not the place to explain why, but if any of you is interested I can give you my reasons later.

I want to point out again that Suggestopedia is a pedagogical system scientifically elaborated, it is not yoga, it is not psychoterapy. It has its own terminology, its own laws, its own developments, now recognized in various countries where PhD theses are written on this method, defending it as a scientific method, experimentally proven.

There are various developments derived from Suggestopedia as "Superlearning", "Accelerated Learning" and others. I am not against these applications. I am only against those who say that I said what I actually didn't say. I am against anything which is guided. I am in favour of everything which is free, spontaneous friendly communication between teacher and student…no gurus, no guidance, no hypnosis, as I told tou yesterday.

There are publications where Suggestopedia is combined with other methods. Suggestopedia is complete in itself. If for instance you try to combine it with Neurolinguistic Programming you will destroy both methods. Eclecticism is not useful for the teaching methods. A method can't be eclectic. Each method must have its own principles, its own aims, its own applications.

I gave the name of Desuggestive Learning to the latest development of Suggestopedia. I am going to explain why. In the learning situation there are always two processes:
a) the process of suggestion when for instance the teacher says: "You can learn 500 words, you can, sure you can…
b) the process of desuggestion: the student thinks he can't, but he is free to choose the suggestion and become de-suggested, choose the process of desuggestion.

This is a dual process freeing the individual and creating a new set-up. Dr Gateva and me worked for more than fifteen years focusing this aspect and we decided to reduce "suggestion" in favour of "de-suggestion". Of course "suggestion" can't be totally eliminated. You can't avoid the influence of the background, intonation, faces, atmosphere…, but you can avoid focusing too much on "influencing" your students. We focused more on "de-programming" us from all negative beliefs on our limitations, on what we can achieve. We can achieve more, but we are programmed for less by school, the family, the tradition and so on…, but students can be de-programmed, so that they can freely decide what they can achieve, what they can create. You see how far we are from what some kind of advertisement and journalistic information have been saying about Suggestopedia.

The next point of the program is:"What can be expected when Suggestopedia is correctly applied". In 1978 the UNESCO experts accepted the method and defined it as the best in comparison with all the other traditional methods. I am not here to advertise my method, it's too late for this, but the results say that foreign languages can be acquired easier and faster. I am referring of course to the genuine method, when it is correctly applied.

What about the by-products? Each method has its own by-products. As far as Suggestopedia is concerned we noticed a positive improvement of the learners' health, a positive development of their personalities through a synchronization of the so-called multipersonalities, a better control of their various states of mind, easier socialization and, after the course, they started learning and memorizing easily and faster also other subjects.

In Desuggestive Learning the teacher is not "on the stage" , is a good friend, giving and sharing knowledge in the group. The teacher has to be trained to be able to take from the paraconsciousness all their knowledge and their expectancies. The teacher is not playing role, he is one of the group, a knowledgeable friend of the group. The teacher must know how to communicate with the students on the level of their potential capacities, that means above the normal way of communication, on the edge, on the border of their knowledge and of their believing system. This seems to be difficult,but the results are encouraging.

The uniqueness of the method is first of all the ability of the teacher to communicate on the edge of the potential capacities; then the concept of part and global; thirdly the idea of the iceberg, that is the fact that we learn not only with our active but also with our passive knowledge; fouthly learning with art, which doesn't mean only singing a song and finally the fact that the teacher always takes into consideration the state of mind and the potential capacities of the student.

Are there guarantees for its long life? It has survived for thirty years and recently the interest has dramatically increased. I have started training my trainers as I am going to stop my activity very soon. They will be able to continue my work. In particular one from Canada, one in the United States and others who are preparing for this. They will go on till the moment when society will be ready to understand, till when those who have to choose will ask themselves: "Do we need this method or not?" . I believe that in twenty, thirty or maybe fifty years it will be applied on a large scale because it helps saving time and money and these are very convincing and serious reasons, more than the development of personalities…But, to tell you the truth, I don't care much about the future. If the method is good, it will defend itself. If it will die in the future, this means that it was not good enough.

And then the final question: possibilities and conditions for its practical application. The first condition is the training of teachers. If they are well trained they will apply it correctly and the method will survive. I have already certified some trainers who have a certificate. Many persons claim that they were trained personally by me, but actually they aren't. I give certificates to become teachers and certificates to become trainers, as there are different levels of proficiency.

Another important condition is a good organization.. It is necessary to find someone who understands the method and is available to support all this.

I thank you for listening to me with such attention. Of course the reflections we made together will help you in your everyday practice, but you can't start applying Suggestopedia right away tomorrow. For this you need a proper training. But you may introduce some music, sing with your students and also pay attention to the emotional side, with the right balance between the logic and the emotional side. Try also to soften your voice which should be acceptable and pleasant. Before starting your lesson sing a song you like to make your voice more harmonious and also your behoviour should be harmonious. And when you enter your classroom don't think that in the future they will become bandits, mafiosi, bad people. Think that they will all become the future Einstein, the future galileo, very good creative people. You know that some great people were not so good at school, like Edison for example. And finally help your students to find the way to place the elements in the whole, summarize, give them the sense of the global, don't give them isolated elements. Don't forget that the future of the world is in the hands of the teachers.

Now I'm going to show you a recording concerning a very difficult group. They made a secret agreement with me - without telling the teacher - and they agreed to pay at the end of the course, only if they were satisfied. So at the beginning they have a rather cold behaviour, then they gradually start paticipating and enjoying communication. The teacher is lively, encouraging, working at the same level of the students, drawing communication from the group. At the beginning the students are rather stiff and reserved, but then they change their behaviour and get more and more involved. As you will notice the grammar items are not explained but the way the teacher underlines the words with the tone of her voice means that that word is important.

The course lasts 80 hours. At the end they speak very well. Logical explanation are given later in the course. They sing didactical songs. They listen, sing, laugh ,enjoy and feel free to participate or not, but at the end they do. They chose an identity and a profession and at the end of the first lesson they are able to introduce themselves. They are working on both levels, active and passive. Actively they can only use simple expressions to introduce themselves, but they have acquired enough to understand the teacher. Sometimes a few words are translated into german, very quicly and in a lower tone of voice, when the word can't be explained with gestures or pictures.

(For a few minutes the video shows the teacher reading in the active concert, reading the text with tthe music, with a particular intonation. Then the reading is repeated in a listen-and-repeat exercise.)

This is the active part of the lesson. As you see the teacher has to be trained according to hte music, specially for the "active concert". In any case the students are always participating consciously, they are never manipulated.

Now I am ready to answer your questions.

Here in Italy a teacher normally has 3 hours a week in each class. How can we apply the method?

The optimal solution is three hours a day, but life is life and we have to find out flexible solutions.
We can arrange weekend courses, or try to have 3+3 hours a week. We can adapt the method, but the session can't be shorter than 3 hours.

Is Suggestology recognized as a scientific theory in the world of psychology? Has it got any link with the Gestalt theory?

If Universities in the USA, South America, Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland (where the method has been adopted by the Government) and other countries accept theses, this means that it is recognized. Yes, there are some similarities with the Gestalt theory and also several similarities with RobertoAssagioli's ideas.

I 've appreciated and enjoyed the Seminar a lot. I would like to be a Suggestopedic teacher, but I'm afraid I haven' t got the tools. I don't want to be an "eclectic" teacher. I am lucky as I have 6 hours a week in each class. This is my question: how can I manage when I have to evaluate my students a required by the Italian State System?

Suggestopedia involves a very complex theory, of course with similarities as I said before. But what is unique is the way we use the so called "reserve capacities". Mixing it with other different methods would be wrong. To apply it properly teachers have to be trained. I am still organizing training courses, but also my certified trainers are available, so you can contact them. Training courses can be organized here, in Vienna or in other places. I can't train more than three people at a time but a group of three will be less expensive. I know that teachers are not rich.

At which point of the lesson should we use the music? We saw in the video that sometimes the teacher spoke with the music and sometimes without. Can you give an explanation? And one more question: I generally advise my students to revise the material at home while listening to music. Am I right?

About the music, to know how to use it correctly you should be trained in Suggestopedia. The method clearly justifies when and what sort of music has to be used.
I can't give you any advice about homework. If you want you can do a lot of things but the results can be different if you are not properly trained. In any case the use of "prestigious" music can help, but you have to use it properly. It is different if you use music as a therapy or if you use music for memorization. To distinguish between the two you need training, otherwise, if you use it uneffectively you may lose prestige in front of your students.

I read the term RE.CA.CO. somewhere referring to Suggestopedia. What does it mean? What does it stand for?

It stands for "REeserve CApacities COmmunicative Method". I mentioned this in a Conference of IAL (International Alliance for Learning) in the United states. It's just a matter of terminology. It is the same as "potential capacities" which is a simpler definition.
Suggestopedia can certainly improve Italian schools. I entirely agree with the theory and practice of Suggestopedia. I have a question and a proposal. The question is: Can Suggestopedia be improved? My proposal is: Are you interested in forming two groups of students one taught by me and one by one of your Suggestopedic teachers, with the same amount of hours, and then compare the results?
Of course Suggestopedia can be improved. It is developing, as everything in the world, being based on scientific research. About your proposal I say YES if you are ready to take the financial obligations.

Can Suggestopedia have good therapeutic effects on students who have problems of identity and/or some kind of disturbance in their personality?

It depends on the causes of the troubles. It depends on the type of diagnosis, it depends on whether the base of the trouble is organic or functional. Certainly there won't be negative effects.

What is the attitude of a suggestopedic teacher towards the correction of the students' mistakes?

The mistakes have to be corrected very softly, the teacher repeats the correct form without underlying it too much, very softly.

How important is the physical appearance of the teacher in terms of body language, what is he/she wearing, the colours he/she wears and so on?

It isn't of vital importance, but the aesthetic aspect is to be taken into account.

Could Dr Lozanov comment on the use of action songs il language teaching? By action songs I mean songs whose words and meaning are represented through mime, gestures and movement.

Yes, also in our courses we have a lot of songs of this kind, we make students move and laugh to memorize.

Like all the humanistic/affective methods Suggestopedia is based on the psychological relationship between teacher and students. Yesterday you have often used the term "personality". Referring to your own experience as a teacher trainer do you think that anyone who wants to become a suggestopedic teacher can do it ? We have seen Dr Gateva in the videos. She certainly had an exceptional personality, so lively and extrovert. Is there a sort of pre-disposition so that some can and others can't ? And I have the same question about the students. At the University of Siena where I teach I did some experiments and I had to select the students, as I didn't think all of them could do it.

In principle any teacher can become a suggestopedic teacher if he loves his work. Of course personal qualities may differ, but love is important. About the students any student can be accepted if healthy, I mean if he or she is not mentally retarded. Even if the students are normal, average, also with them the results will be different, but in any case better than with other methods, as our teachers are trained to deal with students who suffered from previous negative experiences at school and progress therefore is slower. In general we see that out of ten, six reach excellent results, two are good and two satisfactory.

I would like to continue a bit more about "measuring results". You said that at the beginning, in the first lesson students are exposed to at least 700 words. In the four-week course what is the estimated exposure? Have you measured the results comparing the outcomes in public examinations with students who had attended longer courses? I appreciate that your method is concentrated on building up the passive repertoire, so students have more resources to be more creative in their communication, but perhaps there are problems in measuring creativity.

This is the general problem of testing. The problem is what kind of test has to be applied. Some colleagues taught students suggestopedically and then tested them with the traditional tests. Tests must be consistent with the method applied. Our tests are communicative tests, but we test also grammar and vocabulary and the emotional response when tested. In Canada we used our tests and the traditional ones and our students got good results in both, after a course a half or one third shorter. We understood that the students who learnt the language to go and work abroad realized that people in real life are not as soft and polite as their teacher used to be, so we organized a second level course. For instance in Germany if you make mistakes when you speak they start making faces. You are espected to speak very correctly, maybe in America they are more tolerant. So in the second level course the approach is more similar to real life behaviour.
I remember that in Canada in 1994 Dr Gateva was called to work in a school were the teachers were very good, very well prepared and selected. The experiment was made with the French language, with a control group. The recordings and the documents of the tests are kept in the library of the school. The results showed a dramatic difference. In any case the tests should be consistent with the method used. Some methods give more importance to translation, others to grammar and the test has to be prepared according to the method used in teaching. About this there is a very interesting article written by a teacher whose name is Natalia Smirnova, at the University of Moscow, in the Pedagogical Institute. She compared the results of students taught with the suggestopedic method with students taught with the traditional method by thirty or fourty different teachers. They said that our students made more mistakes than the others. The fact is that our students speak much more, they want to express themselves and therefore considering this the percentage of mistakes is lower.

We usually have at least 25 students per class. Can Suggestopedia be applied in these conditions? Some students are very shy and don't want to sing or don't feel like moving. How can we overcome their shyness?

With big groups the results are good, but not the best. I remember that in 1979 in San francisco we tried a group of 27. The organizers were mainly interested in money - more students more money - but of course with a big group you can't have a personal relationship with each student every day. The ideal size is from six to twelve. Also in Japan they have big groups, and the results are good, in any case better than with the traditional methods, even if not the best, but sometimes we have to be flexible…
About the second point, students take part if they want; if they don't want they sit down and observe. This happens normally, but then gradually they start participating. The teacher gives the example. If the teacher sings and plays, they will do it too, but they have to feel free.

What happens in the suggestopedic class and what doesn't happen? What can or can't happen? The role of the teacher seems to be very strong as "conductor of the orchestra" and "course designer".
What about the autonomy of the students? Are they allowed to use other texts? Can they suggest other texts, other than the manual? Can they talk to each other in a free interaction without any intervention on the part of the teacher?

Here's one of the biggest mistakes made by the traditional pedagogy pretending to introduce basically right ideas in favour of the freedom of the children. We also are in favour of the freedom of the students. The use of classical art in one way keeps order, balance, equilibrium, dignity and discipline in the classroom. In Suggestopedia the teacher is not such a leader, a dominator. The students always interact and cohoperate with the teacher. You have seen the first session. Right from the second session, during the "elaboration phase" the teacher is aside as they play games alone, but if they need something they can ask. But they must follow the program, they don't know the subject and if you give too much freedom it would simply mean chaos. They know that the teacher is reliable, they can ask any question, also outside the program, but the answer is short and then the teacher gets back to the program. There's always a sort of dual action: freedom and at the same time a logical structure which has to be followed.

Could please explain in a more detailed way the various phases of a suggestopedic session? What activities can be used to teach the written language?

As in this Seminar I don't have much time I had to decide and select what to show. In a session there is the introduction stage, the concert phase, the elaboration phase with games, songs, movement and other ativities, when the teacher is activating the material. In a Seminar like this it is not possible to show and explain all the different procedures, this is done in a training course. About the second point: the students start reading very soon, but writing is done later, in the second level course when they are already familiar with many words. It is not difficult as they read a lot. We don't teach writing in the first course.

I would like to know the difference between the active and passive concert, the different functions of the two concerts. Can I also ask you to repeat the difference between the two process of suggestion and desuggestion?

The passive concert consists in a normal reading of the script, with the background of music, specially selected on this purpose. In the active session the students are reading the text, they can take notes, that's why it is callled "active". The two concerts should be always together in the same session, in the same day,I want to underline this, and the session ends with the passive concert.
About the second questions we are all aware of the fact that we receive "suggestions" from family, teachers, school, society, they all tend to tell us that we can't learn too much, but actually we have more possibilities than the ones we use in everyday life. So we have to desuggest ourselves, become aware of our potential capacities. Just think how quickly and naturally we learn when we are children. There are no limitations. Day and night we learn our parents speaking. They don't say "stop" this is too much for them to hear. But then we go to school and there limitations are set. We want to free people from these limitations, imposed by our society. Working on the edge of the students' believing system and their knowledge we desuggest them making them free, without pressing, spontaneously.

At the end of the Seminar dr Dolci, on behalf of the University of Ca' Foscari, hosting the event, warmly thanks Dr Georgy Lozanov for his contribution, thanks the organizers Dr Renata Marangon and prof. Elena De Rigo, the interpreters Dr Sandra Moretto and prof. Eufemia Colucci and all the participants from all over Italy and several countries abroad. He expresses the hope that this may be a first step to an Italian way to Suggestopedia in Venice.

Venice, 5th December 1999

Torna ai contenuti | Torna al menu