Suggestopedia - the Bottom Line

If, as Benjamin Franklin suggested, 'Time is Money', then a teaching approach that enables students to learn three times as fast would be of great interest to all - especially if, in addition to being faster, it enables students to remember for much longer afterwards and causes student motivation to skyrocket.

In Suggestopedia - known as Accelerated Learning in some places - all of this happens in an exciting environment where pleasure, efficiency and personal fulfilment are foremost in everyone's mind.

The key to Suggestopedia is the safe environment it creates, where students are unconditionally supported and become unafraid of taking risks. It presents learners with quick successions of highly stimulating artistic activities that appeal to all the senses, thus teaching in a multi-sensory, matrix-like way. Because the same knowledge comes to learners through a variety of different sensory channels, it "mutually" reinforces itself.

In this sense, Suggestopedia is the pedagogical application of the latest discoveries in brain research. All knowledge is woven into unforgettable chains of association and courses are designed so that students are constantly surprising themselves with their own newly discovered capacities. The bottom line is that Suggestopedia activates the reserve capacities of the unconscious mind. It does this in two ways:

  • it systematically gives emotional meaning to all information such that long-term memory remembers it
  • it presents important knowledge indirectly so that it is seen through the corner of the learner's eye rather than directly. This is done because long-term memory gives access to what it experiences through peripheral perception and ignores direct perception

This "person-centred" method begins by giving participants new identities, which enable them to start their lives all over again, by leaving behind any unpleasant memories, negative self-image or obligations to fulfil other people's expectations.

Texts, in the form of plays, with the target language to the right and mother tongue to the left are presented to classical music in a 'Presentation Concert'. The teacher reads the text out in a particularly dramatic way that learners will find difficult to forget.

The text is then decoded and words are explained through the historical events that gave rise to them. The largest part of the day, however, is spent participating in quick-moving activities that change every 7-10 minutes and include role-play, ball games, card games, competitions, songs, creative presentations and sketches.

Almost every day will end with a 'Relaxation Concert', where the teacher rereads the text and recaps the high points of the day to polyphonic Baroque music. This music is so complex that the brain will give up trying to control things and just let go, thus bringing about a change in brain activity. From the highly productive lower Beta waves of 18-23 Hz, participants will quickly move to the highly receptive Alpha waves of 8-12 Hz, thus simulating the natural states of falling asleep or waking up. In this state, the assimilation of new knowledge is extremely quick.

While there are great variations in the nature and intensity of the different sequences, most phases of the cycle will seek to mobilise 120% of the learners' usual maximum capacities as it is at 120% that a 'flow state' of optimal concentration and minimal interference can most easily be achieved.

Created by Bulgarian doctor, researcher and psychiatrist Dr. Georgi Lozanov, Suggestopedia is much more than an accelerated version of traditional teaching. It is, rather, a total redefinition of teaching and learning where learners finally learn how to learn - and take ownership of resources they have ignored up until now. In a word, Suggestopedia truly is a new beginning ...