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Principles and Practice

Principles and Practice


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Published by Patricio Arnaldi

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Published by: Patricio Arnaldi on Oct 22, 2009
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While there have been reports of students learning 1000 words per day using
Suggestopedia, in the normal one month intensive course, students cover about 2000 words.
Lozanov is quoted as saying that "after completing the course, the students can express
themselves freely within the framework of their lexical capacity, and can read newspapers
and books." (Interview published in Pravda, reprinted in Ostrander and Schroeder, 1976, p.
74) These are excellent results, but are not superhuman--the month's course, as noted
earlier, is quite intensive, meeting four hours per day, six days a week, for a total of nearly
100 hours. In terms of classhours alone, this is equivalent to more than one year of study at
the university level. If students can indeed


"get by" in conversation in the target language and read many things in it as well, Lozanov's
approach may be just about as successful as other "input methods", such as the method used
by Swaffer and Woodruff, who report similar results.

Bushman and Madsen (1976) put Suggestopedia to the experimental test in a small
scale study done at Brigham Young University. (Lozanov has carried out extensive
experimentation which reportedly demonstrate the superiority of Suggestopedia over AL-type
methods. Details of these studies are not available to me. For a very critical review, see
Scovel, 1979.) Six different classes at BYU, teaching Finnish as a foreign language, with an
average of seven students in each class were used. Two control classes were taught using
the "full" Suggestopedia treatment and two with a modified treatment. The modified
Suggestopedia classes followed all aspects of Suggestopedia but lacked music, the easy
chairs, and the "living room environment". They were held instead in ordinary classrooms.
Each class received 10 hours of instruction and covered similar linguistic material. To control
for teacher effect, two instructors taught all three treatments.

Suggestopedia students in both full and modified classes clearly outperformed controls
in a vocabulary test and were "vastly superior" in a test of "communication". (In this test,
students were rated on their success in conveying a message to a native speaker.) There
were no significant differences between Suggestopedia classes and controls on a grammar
test or in a pronunciation test; this result supports the hypothesis that Suggestopedia was
superior to the control group, since control classes had far more work on pronunciation and
grammar in the form of pattern drills and repetition exercises.

Bushman and Madsen also probed student's personal reactions to the different
treatments, and reported no differences between groups: there was no difference in
measured affect between Suggestopedic and control groups. This conflicts, to some extent,
with reports from the Canadian Public Service Commission, in their report of a full one-month
French course. They reported changed attitudes toward language learning ("learning" used
here in the general sense), and even "a real and total change in the person himself" (p. 33).
Just as Lozanov maintains happens in Suggestopedia, Canadian researchers report


"the student discovered new capabilities in himself, became aware of what he was able to do,
realized the extent of his creativity and his potential; he 'found himself', which gave him more
self-confidence and self-assurance" (p. 33). In our terms, they became aware of the reality of
their own second language acquisition capacity and the fact that it remains very powerful in
the adult.

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