In the late 70s, a Bulgarian psychologist by the name of Georgi Lozanov introduced the contention that students naturally set up psychological barriers to learning - based on fears that they will be unable to perform and are limited in terms of their ability to learn. Lozanov believed that learners may have been using only 5 to 10 percent of their mental capacity, and that the brain could process and retain much more material if given optimal conditions for learning. Based on psychological research on extrasensory perception, Lozanov began to develop a language learning method that focused on "desuggestion" of the limitations learners think they have, and providing the sort of relaxed state of mind that would facilitate the retention of material to its maximum potential. This method became known as Suggestopedia - the name reflecting the application of the power of "(de)suggestion" to the field of pedagogy. Key Features Here are some of the key features of Suggestopedia:
(1) Learning is facilitated in an environment that is as comfortable as possible, featuring soft cushioned seating and dim lighting.
(2) "Peripheral" learning is encouraged through the presence in the learning environment of posters and decorations featuring the target language and various grammatical information.
(3) The teacher assumes a role of complete authority and control in the classroom.
(4) Self-perceived and psychological barriers to learners' potential to learn are "desuggested".
(5) Students are encouraged to be child-like, take "mental trips with the teacher" and assume new roles and names in the target language in order to become more "suggestible".
(6) Baroque music is played softly in the background to increase mental relaxation and potential to take in and retain new material during the lesson.
(7) Students work from lengthy dialogs in the target language, with an accompanying translation into the students' native language.
(8) Errors are tolerated, the emphasis being on content and not structure.
(9) Homework is limited to students re-reading the dialog they are studying - once before they go to sleep at night and once in the morning before they get up.
(10) Music, drama and "the Arts" are integrated into the learning process as often as possible.
Larsen-Freeman, in her book Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching provides expanded descriptions of some common/typical techniques closely associated with Suggestopedia.
(1) Classroom Set-up (Emphasis is placed on creating a physical environment that does not "feel" like a normal classroom, and makes the students feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible)
(2) Peripheral Learning (Students can absorb information "effortlessly" when it is perceived as part of the environment, rather than the material "to be attended to")
(3) Positive Suggestion (Teachers appeal to students' consciousness and subconscious in order to better orchestrate the "suggestive" factors involved in the learning situation)
(4) Visualization (Students are asked to close their eyes and visualize scenes and events, to help them relax, facilitate positive suggestion and encourage creativity from the students)
(5) Choose a New Identity(Students select a target language name and/or occupation that places them "inside" the language language they are learning)
(6) Role-play (Students pretend temporarily that they are somone else and perform a role using the target language)
(7) First Concert (Teacher does a slow, dramatic reading of the dialog synchronized in intonation with classical music)
(8) Second Concert (Students put aside their scripts and the teacher reads at normal speed according to the content, not the accompanying pre-Classical or Baroque music - this typically ends the class for the day)
(9) Primary Activation Students "playfully" reread the target language out loud, as individuals or in groups)
(10) Secondary Activation (Students engage in various activities designed to help the students learn the material and use it more spontaneously - activities include singing, dancing, dramatizations and games - "communicative intent" and not "form" being the focus)