Suggestopedia is a teaching method developed by the Bulgarian psychotherapist Georgi Lozanov. It is used mostly to learn foreign languages. Suggestopedia has been called a pseudoscience. It strongly depends on the trust that students develop towards the method by simply believing that it works.
The theory applied positive suggestion in teaching when it was developed in the 1970s. However, as the method improved, it has focused more on “desuggestive learning” and now is often called “desuggestopedia.” Suggestopedia is a portmanteau of the words “suggestion” and “pedagogy". A common misconception is to link "suggestion" to "hypnosis". However, Lozanov intended it in the sense of offering or proposing, emphasising student choice.
Physical surroundings and atmosphere in classroom are the vital factors to make sure that "the students feel comfortable and confident", and various techniques, including art and music, are used by the trained teachers. The lesson of Suggestopedia consisted of three phases at first: deciphering, concert session (memorization séance), and elaboration.
Deciphering: The teacher introduces the grammar and lexis of the content. In most materials the foreign language text is on the left half of the page with a translation on the right half, i.e. meanings are conveyed via the mother tongue not unlike the bilingual method.
Concert session (active and passive): In the active session, the teacher reads the text at a normal speed, sometimes intoning some words, and the students follow. In the passive session, the students relax and listen to the teacher reading the text calmly. Music (" baroque”) is played in the background.
Elaboration: The students finish off what they have learned with dramas, songs, and games.
Introduction: The teacher teaches the material in “a playful manner” instead of analyzing lexis and grammar of the text in a directive manner.
Concert session (active and passive): In the active session, the teacher reads with intoning as selected music is played. Occasionally, the students read the text together with the teacher, and listen only to the music as the teacher pauses in particular moments. The passive session is done more calmly.
Elaboration: The students sing classical songs and play games while “the teacher acts more like a consultant”.
Production: The students spontaneously speak and interact in the target language without interruption or correction.
Teachers should not act in a directive way, although this method is teacher-controlled and not student-controlled. For example, they should act as a real partner to the students, participating in the activities such as games and songs “naturally” and “genuinely.”  In the concert session, they should fully include classical art in their behaviors. Although there are many techniques that the teachers use, factors such as “communication in the spirit of love, respect for man as a human being, the specific humanitarian way of applying their ‘techniques’” etc. are crucial. The teachers not only need to know the techniques and to acquire the practical methodology completely, but also to fully understand the theory, because, if they implement those techniques without complete understanding, they will not be able lead their learners to successful results, or they could even cause a negative impact on their learning. Therefore, the teacher has to be trained in a course taught by certified trainers.
Here are the most important factors for teachers to acquire, described by Lozanov.
- Covering a huge bulk of learning material.
- Structuring the material in the suggestopaedic way: global-partial – partial-global, and global in the part – part in the global, related to the golden proportion.
- As a professional, on one hand, and a personality, on the other hand, the teacher should be a highly-regarded professional, reliable and credible.
- The teacher should have, not play, a hundred percent expectation of positive results (because the teacher is already experienced even from the time of the teacher training course).
- The teacher should love his/her students (of course, not sentimentally but as human beings) and teach them with personal participation through games, songs, classical arts, and pleasure.
Method for children (preventive Suggestopedia)
The method for Adults includes long sessions without movement, and materials that are appropriate for adults. Children, however, get impacts from “the social suggestive norms” differently and their brains are more delicate than those of adults. Therefore, another method with different materials should be applied to children, which better matches their characteristics. Lessons for children are more incidental and short, preventing the children from the negative pedagogical suggestions of Society. It is important to tell the parents about the method and their roles because they could influence children both negatively and positively, depending on how they support the kids.
Lozanov claims that the effect of the method is not only in language learning, but also in producing favorable side effects on health, the social and psychological relations, and the subsequent success in other subjects.
Suggestopedia has been called a "pseudo-science". It depends, in a sense, on the trust that students develop towards the method. Lozanov never admitted that Suggestopedia can be compared to a placebo. He argues, however, that placebos are indeed effective. Another point of criticism is brought forward by Baur who claims that the students only receive input by listening, reading and musical-emotional backing, while other important factors of language acquisition are being neglected. Furthermore, several other features of the method, like the 'nonconscious' acquisition of language, or bringing the learner into a childlike state are questioned by critics.
Lukesch claims that Suggestopedia lacks scientific backing and is criticized by psychologists as being based on pseudoscience.
Suggestopedia produced four main offshoots. The first was still called Suggestopedia but was developed in eastern Europe and used different techniques from Lozanov's original version. The other three are named Superlearning, Suggestive Accelerated Learning and Teaching (SALT), and Psychopädie. Superlearning and SALT originated in North America, while Psychopädie was developed in West Germany. While all four are slightly different from the original Suggestopedia and from each other, they still share the common traits of music, relaxation, and suggestion. It is important to stand out that those variants of Suggestopedia mentioned above are way too far from the original concept and are based on the early experiments, which were left behind during the new improvements of the method.
- Richards, J.C. and Rodgers, T.S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Lozanov, Georgi. Suggestology and Suggestopedy. http://lozanov.hit.bg/ 4/30/2006
- Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching. 3rd Edition. Person Education Limited, 2001
- Lozanov, Georgi. Suggestopaedia - Desggestive Teaching Communicative Method on the Level of the Hidden Reserves of the Human Mind. http://dr-lozanov.dir.bg/book/start_book.htm 4/30/2006
- Baur, R.S. (1984). Die Psychopädische Variante der Suggestopädie (Psychopädie). In Bauer, H.L. (Ed.), Unterrichtspraxis und theoretische Fundierung in Deutsch als Fremdsprache. (pp. 291-326 ). München: Goethe-Institut.
- Lukesch, H. (2000): Lernen ohne Anstrengung? Der Sirenengesang der geheimen Verführer. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie/German Journal of Educational Psychology, 14, 59-62.
- Felix, Uschi (1989). An Investigation of the Effects of Music, Relaxation and Suggestion in Second Language Acquisition in Schools (PhD thesis). Flinders University, Adelaide. pp. Chapter 2.7. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
- Idiomos Aprendizagem Acelerada = http://www.idiomos.com
- Edelmann, Walter, Suggestgopädie/Superlearning, Heidelberg: Ansanger, 1998.
- Lozanov, Georgi, Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy, New York: Gordon & Breach 1978 (Translation of: Lozanov, Georgi (1971). Sugestologia (in Bulgarian). Sofia: Nauka i izkustvo.).
- Meier, Josef, Mehr Freude und Erfolg beim Englischlernen mit innovativen Lern- und Mentaltechniken, München:IBS, 1999.
- Riedel, Katja, Persönlichkeitsentfaltung durch Suggestopädie, Hohengehren: Schneider, 1995.
- Schiffler, Ludger, Suggestopädie und Superlearning - empirisch geprüft. Einführung und Weiterentwicklung für Schule und Erwachsenenbildung, Frankfurt am Main: Diesterweg, 1989.
- Schiffler, Ludger, La Suggestopédie et le Superlearning - Mise à l'épreuve statistique, Paris: Didier Erudition, 1991.
- Schiffler, Ludger: "Suggestopedic Methods and Applications", Philadelphia, Tokyo, Paris etc.: Gordon & Breach Science Publisher, 1992.
- Schiffler, Ludger, Effektiver Fremdsprachen lehren und lernen - Beide Gehirnhälften aktivieren, Donauwörth: Auer, 2002.
- Schiffler, Ludger, Interhemispheric Foreign Language Learning - Activating Both Sides of the Brain, online 2003 (732KB )(download available: http://www.ludger-schiffler.de).
- Sergio, Paulo, Accelerating the Foreign Language Teaching Through Suggestopedia/Neuropedia, online 2010(download available: http://www.lozanov.com.br and www.idiomos.com).
- Felix, Uschi (1989). An Investigation of the Effects of Music, Relaxation and Suggestion in Second Language Acquisition in Schools (PhD thesis). Flinders University, Adelaide. Retrieved January 12, 2012. No longer online.