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Theories, Methods & Techniques of Teaching - Suggestopedia

Theories, Methods & Techniques of Teaching - Suggestopedia | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Which methodology uses music to calm us down before learning? It is called Suggestopedia. How does that work?

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In the 1970’s Georgi Lozanov introduced a new teaching method called Suggestopedia.

As psychological theory was developing, one of the ideas that emerged was called the affective filter. The affective filter is a barrier to learning; it's one of the reasons why we are inhibited in our learning of a language.

There are two main elements to the affective filter, two sets of factors; these are known as internal and external factors. The external factors to learning may be just simple things such as external noise, people talking to us while we're trying to learn for example. Perhaps more important are the internal factors and for the internal factors, one of the main examples is our previous experience. If we have tried to learn a language in the past and we have not been successful that forms an internal barrier to further learning in the future.

One of the fundamental tenets of Suggestopedia is that we should aim to reduce this affective filter to its lowest possible value. Theory tells us that the affective filter has its lowest value when we're in the womb and so one of the ideas of Suggestopedia was to try to recreate the conditions of feeling safe in the womb. As such our affective filter will be at its lowest possible value and we will be the most receptive to learning at that point.

In this method we try first to reduce the effective filter through the internal and external factors down to its lowest value, so our students are made to feel comfortable. One way to achieve this is to introduce the use of music into the classroom. The music presented is in different styles depending on which part of the lesson that we are in.

The idea in the first section of the lesson, which is sometimes called the first concert, is to use lively music and this is known as the active part of the lesson. Here we hope that the lively music will start to get our brain waves moving around and put it into a receptive mood.

Then in the second concert (part of the lesson) the teacher will introduce the target language usually in the form of dictation. While that's taking place we use Baroque music, which puts us into a passive state and allows us almost to become like a sponge and absorb this particular information. Once that's been completed we can then use that knowledge in some form of production activity.

In terms of positive effects for the students: reducing the affective filter down to its lowest value can make the lessons a very comfortable experience for our students. Secondly, whilst it may sound strange itself in terms of a technique, it does come from a very clear psychological theory. This theory being that we are more receptive to learning when that affective filter is low.

In terms of the potential negatives, it's obviously very different to anything that we're used to and some people say it's just too different. The fact that it is so different could actually increase our effective filter in effect because we think it's not going to work. Secondly it's not easy to create these ideal conditions that are necessary to reduce your effective filter, as there aren't too many schools that would have the facilities to produce all of these idealized conditions.

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