Georgi Losanov’s Method or Suggestive Method

September 5th, 20118:20 am


Georgi Losanov’s Method or Suggestive Method

Georgi Losanov’s Method or Suggestive Method

Few methods have been met with claims ranging from sensational to sceptical: mysterious and costly, a highly questionable new gimmick (one critic has unkindly called it “a package of pseudo-scientific gobbledegook“) and far remote from language teaching styles as language sleep learning, meditative relaxation, electrical and sound impulses (E.Davydova), etc.

Suggestopedia as G.Lozanov called his pedagogical application of “The Science of Suggestology” aims at neutralising learning inhibitions and de-suggesting false limitations that cultural norms impose on learning [125, p. 41].

The suggestive method or Suggestopedia is a modification of direct method. The originator of this method believes, as does Silent Way’s Caleb Gattegno, that language learning can occur at a much faster rate than what ordinarily transpires. In G. Losanov’s view the reason for the pupils’ inefficiency is that they set up psychological barriers that block the way to learning. They fear that they will be unable to perform, that they will be limited in the ability to learn, and finally fail. One result is that the learners’ full mental powers are not engaged (cf. CC-LT). According to G.Losanov and his proponents, only five per cent of the learners’ mental capacity is used. In order to make better use of the mental reserves the limitations, which they think we have, need to be “desuggested”. Suggestopedia, the application of the study of suggestion to pedagogy, has been developed to help students eliminate the feeling that they cannot be successful and, thereby, to help them overcome the barriers to learning.

The behaviourist principles of G. Losanov’s method assume the form of five maxims:

1. Get the learners to utter the same structure repeatedly.

2. Get them to do so correctly.

3. Do this through good grading of structures by arranging them in order of difficulty and by introducing them one at a time if possible.

4. The behaviourist approach is repetition and drilling to the point where the learner automatically makes the correct response.

5. Lessons must be designed so as to prevent the learners from making mistakes.

Behaviourist psychology described all learning (including language acquisition) as a matter of conditioning – as the formation of habits through responses to outside stimuli. Thus, one learns a language through mimicry, memorisation and analogy.

Communication takes place on “two planes”: on linguistic and psychological one. On the linguistic plane the message is encoded; and on the psychological are factors which influence the linguistic message. On the conscious plane, the learner attends to the language; on the subconscious plane, the music suggests that learning is easy and pleasant; when there is a unity between conscious and subconscious, learning is enhanced.

The class, where this method is used, is different from other classrooms — the students are seated in cushioned armchairs that are arranged in a semicircle facing the front of the room. The teacher is lively, dynamic, confidant, yet sensitive, and speaks only the target language, which suggests that the learners do the same. In the firsts three-hour meeting all learners choose a new name and nationality, after which they are given a fictional autobiography. By means of song, imitation, and play, the learners introduce themselves to each other and assume their new roles.

Then over the next two days, the teacher twice presents a long script, each time with a different aim and a different learning set-up; these script performances called “concert sessions”, are accompanied by music. In the first of these, the “active concert session”, the music is emotional, and the tone of the artistic presentation reflects the character of the music.

The learners have the script in two languages arranged in short phrases on opposite sides of the page. After the “concert session” come various kinds of elaboration activities, including group and choral reading of parts of the scripts, singing and playing games as a group and individually. The second day the script is performed again, this time in a “pseudopassive concert session”, where a state of wakeful relaxation is artfully stimulated. This reading is accompanied by music of a different tone and mood, generally baroque- style. Following that, the learners (in their new identities) are aided again in elaborating the script in various ways. This may include narrating a story or event, or creating an original story, using the language in the script.

Gradually the selection of vocabulary becomes more elaborate. It may include situations from literary works, rustic scenes, and facts from everyday life. Using pantomime to help the students understand, the teacher acts out various occupations, such as pilot, singer, carpenter and artist. The students choose what they want to be.

The teacher reads a dialogue partly in English and partly through pantomime, and outlines the dialogue’s story. He also calls his students’ attention to some of the comments regarding vocabulary and grammar structures.

Next, the teacher asks the students to read the dialogue in a sad way, in an angry way and finally in an amorous way. This is followed by asking questions about the dialogues. Sometimes he asks the students to repeat an English line after him; still other times he addresses a question from the dialogue to an individual student.

So, the principles and techniques of Suggestopedia can be conveniently summarised under the following headings:

1. classroom set-up;

2. positive suggestion;

3. visualisation;

4. choosing a new identity;

5. role-play;

6. concert;

7. primary activation (the students playfully re-read the dialogue);

8. secondary activation (the students engage in various activities designed to help them learn the new material and use it spontaneously).

Activities particularly recommended for this phase include singing, dancing, dramatisations, and games. The important thing is that the activities are varied and don’t allow the students to focus on the form of the linguistic message, just the communicative intent.

And finally, instruction is designed so as to tap more successfully the learning powers of the mind and eliminate psychological barriers that block learning and inhibit production. The lessons are pleasant, interesting, and nonthreatening; the teacher gives lots of encouragement, and similar admonitions.

Близнюк М.І. Курс лекцій з методики викладання англійської мови. – Чернівці: ЧДУ, 1999 – с.