Introduction to Desuggestopedia:
You enter the room where you have signed up to learn English and you feel like you are in an executive CEO private club room. Every detail of the room is posh and comfortable. The room is clean, comfortable and well-lit. The carpet is plush and attractive. The walls are covered with posters of travel scenes from all over the English-speaking world. Classical music is softly played in surround-sound. The apolstered chairs are more comfortable than any you have at home. The room is unlike any classroom you have ever seen.
The instructor tells you you must leave your "old" self at the door. Here, in this atypical classroom you will have a new name and a new identity. You will forget all about your busy world...your work...your spouse...your family. You will become a new person, one that is free to open up his/her mind to all the possibilities of learning a new language. "To want to is to be able to," says the instructor, "You won't need to try to learn. It will just come naturally."
Desuggestopedia was originally known as Suggestopedia. The name was changed from Suggestopedia to Desuggestopedia to reflect the importance the method places on "desuggesting" limitations on learning, however, many organizations that use the Desuggestopedia teaching method continue to use the Suggestopedia name. Once such organization is Lonny Gold's website which you may access by clicking here. We will discuss more about that website a little bit later. As far as this class goes we will be using the terms Desuggestopedia and Suggestopedia interchangably.
The Desuggestopedia method is described in the Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education as "a controversial language teaching methodology based on 'suggestology'. The method is concerned with subconcious and nonrational influences on the mind. The method has been accepted in some Western circles and it has been entirely discounted by others.
The method was first developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a Bulgarian psychiatrist-educator by the name of Georgi Lozanov, who was born in 1927.
Dr. Georgi Lozanov
It was Lozanov's intention to develop a new approach to accelerate learning and use the "superpowers" of the mind. He believed language learning can occur at a much faster rate with his method than it can in a traditional classroom setting. Lozanov applied elements of suggestion techniques and relaxation to classroom learning and termed the methods "Suggestopedia".
Some studies have shown Lozanov's techniques to be, "successful in increasing the amount of material learned in a given time or reducing the amount of time necessary to learn new material in a wide variety of subject matter areas at almost all educational levels" (Caskey, 1980).
One of the programs that falls under the umbrella of Desuggestopedia is Accelerated Learning, which incorporates hands-on experiences with positive reinforcement of the natural learning abilities of every individual. An example of Accelerated Learning is the ¡Español Rápido! program. (If you click to go to the site, be sure to turn your speakers on to hear the Mexican guitar music!)
¡Español Rápido! is owned and operated by Barry Browne, and although it is somewhat different from a "traditional" Desuggestopedia classroom, it is entirely based upon the research of Dr. Lozanov.
¡Español Rápido! has been very successful in the Willamette Valley. Many educators ranging from instructional assistants to superintendents have taken the course in hopes of acquiring conversational levels of Spanish in very short periods.
Desuggestopedia is a system derived from detailed studies of the human mind and how it acquires knowledge. It is as much a product of psychology as it is educational theory. The premis of the theory is that learning is enhanced when tension, stress, and preconceptions are removed.
Lozanov believes that powerful learning must engage both the analytical brain and the emotional brain (left brain/right brain), along with both states of mind—the conscious and the unconscious.
Here are three basic concepts of the method:
1. We possess mental capacities that we seldom use under normal circumstances.
2. Our response to stimuli is very complex.
3. The more we can do to purposefully orchestrate the unconscious, as well as the conscious factors in the learning environment, the greater the chance to break through the conditioned, automatic patterns and open the access to the greater potential of the mental reserve.
The best website I have been able to find on Suggestopedia is the one mentioned above by Lonney Gold. Much of the following information I have included below was taken from Lonny Gold's Suggestopedia website. (Information taken directly from the Gold website is indicated as such by being printed in green text.)
Dr. Lozanov is alive and well and he operates a website that can be accessed by clicking on the following link: Desuggestive Learning Website by Lozanov.
Lozanov considers teachers to be competent to teach suggestopedically only after they have completed a full course with him. Unfortunately for us, his trainings take place in Vienna, Austria and Sofia, Bulgaria. Lenny Gold is also based in Europe with offices in the Netherlands and in Sweeden. Both gentlemen can be reached by email, however, you are much more likely to get a more timely answer from Lenny Gold.
Desuggestopedia Discussion Questions:
1. How do you feel about learning in an executive CEO club setting?
2. Do you believe leaving your "old self" at the door and creating a new identity with a new personality aids in rapid learning?
3. Do you know anyone who has taken the ¡Español Rápido! course? What advantages/ disadvantages does this program offer?
4. How do you think calming music affects learning? Do you think calming music would help you? Would it help others?
5. Most suggestopedic language courses are very intensive over a relatively short period of time. How much do you attribute the success of Desuggestopedia to the intensive schedule of three and a half hours a day, five days a week, for five weeks? Do you think any method would show more accelerated learning under the same schedule?
6. How do you feel about the course dialogs? Do you believe learning dialogs are the best method for learning a second language?
7. Do you agree that by introducing a lengthy dialog you are showing students the material must be easy?
8. Do you believe in peripheral learning? Do students learn effortlessly from posters on the wall?
1. Describe what your Desuggestopedia classroom would look like. How would the room be set up? What would be on the walls? How would you incorporate the arts into language learning?
2. After the "primary activation" portion of the class where the dialog is read, it is time for a "creative adaptaion" where students engage in various activities which are designed to help them master the new material and use it spontaneously. Given the dialog that was presented in class, what songs, dances, dramatizations and/or games would you come up with to help students practice their learning without focusing on the linguistic message itself?
Desuggestopedia Final Review Questions:
1. Are there any parts about Desuggestopedia you especially like/dislike?
2. Do you see any similarities between Desuggestopedia and the Silent Way? How about between Desuggestopedia and TPR?
3. Would you consider presenting new material while playing classical music? Would playing music be disruptive to any of your students?
4. Do you think Desuggestopedia develops both BICS and CALP? How does you answer to that question affect how you would use the method in your classroom?
5. Do you believe you will use any part of the Desuggestopedia method in your classroom? Why or why not?
Introduction to Cummins' Quadrants:
Cummins has taken his concept of BICS and CALP and he has gone one step farther. He had created what is known as Cummins' Quadrants to explain different levels of language difficulty for the English language learner. You can learn more about Cummins' Quadrants by clicking on the link above. You will need to have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer in order to download the page.
Cummin's Quadrants can be drawn as follows:
C O N C R E T E Cognitively Undemanding (BICS) A B S T R A C T
Non-academic and Context-embedded C
Non-academic and Context-reduced
Academic and Context-embedded D
Academic and Context-reduced
Cognitively Demanding (CALP)
At first glance the table seems rather complicated, but with a little explanation it shouldn't be too difficult to understand.
The left-hand boxes (quadrants A and B) represent language that is contextually embedded. This is a fancy term for meaning there are OTHER CLUES in addition to the words that are written or spoken. The other clues may come in the form of pictures, diagrams, charts, gestures, facial expressions, etc. You get the idea.
The right-hand boxes (quadrants C and D) represent language that is contextually reduced, which means there are no clues to understand the meaning of the words other than the words themselves.
Obviously, it will be easier for English language learners to understand language represented by quadrants A and B over those of C and D.
The top two boxes (quadrants A and C) represent social language (BICS). The language used is cognitively undemanding.
The bottom two boxes (quadrants B and D) represent the academic language used in schools (CALP). The lanuguage used is challenging and cognitively demanding.
So what does all this mean?
Box A represents Cognitively Undemanding language that is Context Embedded. (Social language that has lots of clues besides the words themselves.)
Box B represents Cognitively Demanding language that also is Context Embedded. (Academic language that has lots of clues besides the words themselves.)
Box C represents Cognitively Undemanding language that is Context Reduced. (Social language that does not offer any clues other than the words themselves.)
Box D represents Cognitively Demanding language that also is Context Reduced. (Academic language that does not offer any clues other than the words themselves.)
It does not take a lot of thinking to realize that quadrant A requires the least amount of language skill and quadrant D requires the most skill.
Let's think about some real-life situations and place each one in the appropriate quadrant for better understanding. Think about each of the following situations and decide what quadrant they belong in:
1. Social conversation with peers
2. Solving math problems using manipulatives
3. Talking with a friend on the telephone
4. Doing a science experiment by following the directions in a textbook.
OK, that should not have been too hard. They were in order A-B-C-D. Now that you are warmed up, let's try a few more:
1. A note on the refrigerator
2. PE class
3. Reading a list of required school supplies
4. Writing research reports in social studies
5. Doing a science experiment by following the teacher's demonstration
6. Listening to a lecture on an unfamiliar topic
7. Listening to a tape-recorded presentation about caring for pets
8. Ordering from a picture menu in a fast food restaurant
Do you think you've got the idea now? Here are the answers...1-C, 2-A, 3-C, 4-D, 5-B, 6-D, 7-C, 8-A.
If you got any wrong, go back and see if you can figure out why the situations are placed as they are.
So now we come to the "so what" of this lecture. Why did we look at Cummins' Quadrants at all and what importance do they have in teaching children who are learning English as their second language?
What is our responsibility as teachers of children who are ELL students? Obviously, we have no other choice other than to teach from quadrants B and D. We must use and teach with academic language. The language and concepts in schools are difficult and we should not lower our goals or water down the curriculum so that it falls into the social language of quadrants A and C. Everything we teach falls into quadrants B and D.
So what do we do to make language as easy as possible for our students? Our challenge, then, is this: We must move all the difficult language of quadrant D into quadrant B. How do we do this? The "simple" answer is this: we must never use words by all by themselves in our classrooms. Every time we use oral or written words we must make absolutely sure they come with as many "hints" as possible. It is an easy statement to write, but it is much harder to practice in real-life situations!
Every time we speak we must be sure we are providing our students with some kinds of hints. Every time we ask our students to read we must be sure we are providing them with some kids of hints.
What kinds of hints can we use? The best ones are visuals and manipulatives. Use charts and graphs. Use the overhead. Use math manipulatives. Use pictures and diagrams. Use videos. Before you teach any lesson make sure you have thought out every possible hint you could possible give your students.
Make sure your classroom NEVER offers quadrant D instruction. Quadrant D instruction is the most difficult, most challenging form of instruction. Our students deserve so much more!
Cummins' Quadrants Review Questions:
1. What is the difference between "Context Embedded" and "Context Reduced?"
2. When you think of a mainstream classroom, what percentage of the day would you guess is spent teaching from quadrant D as opposed to quadrant B?
3. If you are teaching fractions, what can you do to contextually embed the lesson?
4. What quadrant do you think standardized testing falls into? What impact does this have on ELL students?
5. If a ELL student receives all his/her instruction from quadrant D, what do you think his/her odds of success are?
Your next task is to go to the WebBoard and post a Reflection. In writing your Reflection you may wish to focus on the following questions that I have borrowed from Dr. Cathie Whyte:
• What activities "jumped out and grabbed you"?
• What was unclear to you or what do you disagree with?
• How did the activities connect with your personal life?
• How are the activities reflected in other things you have read, seen or done?
• What you have observed about yourself or others since participating in the activities?
• What have you concluded from the activities?
• What you would like to do as a result of the activities?
You do not have to answer all the questions one by one, but hopefully the questions will help stimulate you to write no less than two or three meaningful paragraphs regarding the information that was presented in this week's lesson. Be sure to refer back to the class syllabus to see how your Reflection will be evaluated. It is my expectation that your Reflection will show you have read and understood the lecture material and that you are able to apply the information to real-life situations. The more you can relate the information to your own personal experiences, the better! In addition to posting your initial Reflection you will also need to respond to at least two of your classmates. Please respond with a substantial comment. "I think so too," will not suffice! Remember it is always OK to disagree with your classmates, just be sure to do so with courtesy and respect. Your Reflection must be posted by midnight on Thursday, October 20th and the minimum of two responses must be posted by midnight on Monday, October 24th.