Suggestopedia has undergone a number of changes since it was first experimentally used by Lozanov in the early 1960s. Why some changes were made is not entirely clear. Lozanov (1978) claims, for example, that research was carried out on the suitability of certain types of music without giving any further details. Although he elaborates a little in a paper given to American researchers in 1977 (in Hinkelmann 1986), no data is available on this research in the West.
Until recently Lozanov himself never gave a clear description of a suggestopedic class. His main publication in English Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy (1978), based on his Ph.D. thesis published in Bulgaria seven years earlier, is poorly organised and somewhat vague when it comes to a description of what actually happens in a suggestopedic classroom. This resulted in harsh criticism by linguists such as Scovel (1979) who based their review of suggestopedic language teaching solely on this publication. Bancroft (1976) suggests that there may have been a deliberate attempt to make the method inaccessible to the West and that certain items, especially those referring to Yoga, may have been removed for political reasons prior to publication. Barzakov (in Ostrander & Schroeder 1979) confirms the notion of secrecy surrounding Suggestopedia in Bulgaria.
Confusion about the method became even more acute with the publication of Superlearning (Ostrander & Schroeder 1979). This book gave an account of Lozanov's method that consisted partly of an early version which Lozanov stopped using in the 1970s, and partly of elements that were allegedly observed in classes in Bulgaria, but never officially acknowledged by Lozanov. Furthermore, the book elaborated on Lozanov's method by advocating self-study courses using audio cassettes for instruction. The result of this was that teachers went out to practice what they thought was Suggestopedia, often using Superlearning and Suggestopedia interchangeably as a label for their method. This was particularly true for commercial courses which will be further discussed below.
In the 1980s numerous articles appeared, particularly in Western Europe, claiming to describe Suggestopedia. However, no two articles can be found that give an identical account of the structure and content of the method. If we compare Suggestopädie alias Superlearning - Lernen wie ein Kind (Nuber 1986), and Superlearning und Suggestopädie als Superlernmethoden im Fremdsprachenunterricht (Brenn 1986), for example, it becomes obvious that Nuber is describing the American adaptation called LIND while Brenn is clearly describing Superlearning.
In order to throw some light on the confusion, which still exists today, we will make an attempt to trace the development of Lozanov's Suggestopedia from its first official model to the latest model first described by Lozanov and Gateva in 1984. Since the changes were made largely within the phase referred to as the suggestopedic session, we will concentrate on this phase here, and give a description of the entire suggestopedic cycle with the final model below.
First Model. The first description in English of what is involved in a suggestopedic session can be found in the report of the research committee working on a project in 1965 (Lozanov 1978:25):
The special intonation referred to means that a word or short phrase was presented three times, first in a normal speaking voice, second in a soft voice and third in a loud voice. At what stage the translation was given is not clear from this account, nor is it mentioned at any other stage in the book. Ostrander and Schroeder (1979) report that it was given first, before the intoned target language material.
When exactly music was introduced to the programme is also not entirely clear. Lozanov (1978:268) speaking of the "numerous experimental variants" of the suggestopedic session, mentions that "In the beginning the passive part was accompanied by pre-classical or classical music playing in the background." The passive part was therefore termed the concert session. The active part was not accompanied by music at this stage, but emphasis was given to a dramatic performance of the materials by the teacher using gestures, mimicry, body language, voice intonation — in short, all possible artistic means available. During this part, students were completely alert, following either their text or the teacher's performance or both. Before the passive part students were given relaxation exercises.
Which form the relaxation took is also vague in Lozanov's (1978) own account. The only concrete reference to be found is: "With this variant (the concert session) students used to be trained in muscle relaxation." (p.268) Presumably this relaxation took the form of Yoga exercises and breathing which would explain why later versions such as Superlearning put such a heavy emphasis on rhythmical breathing. Ostrander and Schroeder (1979) report that at this stage students were trained in relaxation techniques for four days before beginning a suggestopedic course.
Second Model. In the early 1970s specific relaxation was no longer regarded as necessary since, according to Lozanov (1978:268), the state of pseudo-passivity achieved in the concert part of the session was "sufficient for attaining concentrative psychorelaxation even without resorting to exercises in muscle relaxation and rhythmical breathing." We do not know the reasons for this change.
Music gained more prominence in the mid 1970s. The concert session now included two parts, an active concert in which materials were presented with music of the classical period, such as Mozart's Concerto no 7 in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, and a passive concert with pieces from the baroque period such as Corelli's Concerto Grosso, op.6. During the active concert, materials were still presented in the lively fashion described above; during the passive concert materials were read more quietly. Although Lozanov (1978) includes a music list, he gives no specific instructions as to how the pieces are to be used. Ostrander and Schroeder (1979:83) report that, for the passive concerts, only slow movements of the baroque period were used. They were strung together to create an half hour concert and usually finished with a faster movement to allow students to come out of the reverie state in a pleasant way.
Three level intonation was still used for presenting materials in the passive concert, but the voice level was changed with each new word or phrase and repetition disappeared. For example, instead of presenting Guten Tag three times, it was now only presented once in a soft speaking voice, then the next phrase Wie geht's was presented in a normal voice and Danke gut in a loud voice (see Baur 1980 and Jänicke 1982). While Jänicke's account suggests that translations were no longer given, Baur reports that translations were given "softly and neutrally" before the special intonation of each phrase which supports Ostrander and Schroeder's claim (Baur may, however, be referring to the Russian model).
Third Model. By the late 1970s the three level intonation as practised above had been dropped (Schmid 1978). The reason for this remains unclear. Lozanov's (1978:269) explanation leads one to believe that he may have wanted to avoid a comparison with hypnosis. Baur (1980) points out that the only criterion for breaking up the text into segments for presentation was that a certain number of syllables was not to be exceeded and therefore little consideration to the natural syntax and semantics was given in the unnatural intonation of language segments. He speculates that the change towards a more natural reading of the materials may have been the result of trying to rectify this problem. During the active concert the music now guides the reading in terms of rhythm and volume. During the passive concert the material is presented in its natural structure of intonation.
Lozanov and Gateva (1984,1988) also specify that entire musical pieces should be used now, which supports Ostrander and Schroeder's claim that pieces were used only in parts before. Again no specific reasons for the change are given by Lozanov. Gassner-Roberts (1988a) speculates that the inclusion of all movements of a classical or baroque piece with its distinctly different tempi substitutes for the three level intonation, by raising and lowering the students' activation level in a more natural way.
The full suggestopedic cycle, in its latest Lozanov version, has the following structure:
1. P R E P A R A T I O N. No specific relaxation exercises are given to prepare students for the class. Preparation is related to the setup of the room and to giving students information about what to expect in the course of the teaching. The behaviour of the teacher suggests at this stage, as well as throughout the course, that learning will be enjoyable and easier than students may have thought. Emphasis is given to making students comfortable and confident in their abilities. The room is well lit and airy, equipped with comfortable chairs and decorated with posters containing elaborations of the material to be taught. This material is not referred to at the beginning of the course, serving simply as a peripheral stimulus. In language teaching the posters might contain conjugation tables or pronouns, or other explanations of grammar. The posters are richly illustrated using many colours and designs. Before teaching starts, students choose new identities from the target culture.
2. P R E S E N T A T I O N. During this session the materials for the first cycle are handed out to the students. (In the early version students did not have materials at this time — Schmid 1978, Baur 1982). For language teaching they are usually organised in dialogue form, with some explanations of vocabulary and grammar. However, other materials, such as prose texts, songs, poems or grammar, are also presented from time to time. The target language text is given on the left hand side with the translation given on the right hand side. Materials are clearly laid out with wide margins so that texts can be followed easily by the students. If a textbook is used then the translations are given on loose sheets attached to the right hand pages of the book. Lozanov and Gateva's (1984,1988) Italian course, for example, gives the Bulgarian translations on loose strips of paper corresponding line by line with the text in the target language.
The first part of this session is called the introduction or decoding. Here the teacher introduces the text to the students using gestures, mimicry and body language, describing characters and settings in the story. Students may repeat the text aloud if they wish but they are not encouraged to read as a group. The text is treated globally; at this stage little detailed information about separate items is given. Students are able to understand the text immediately by glancing at the translations which reduces anxiety about handling rather large chunks of materials. These may consist of 300 to 700 lexical items in one sitting in the first session of an intensive course of 3.5 hours duration and up to 300 in the sessions that follow the completion of the first cycle. The teacher's gestures further reinforce understanding, and help with memorisation.
After the entire text has been introduced, the concert session follows. The method book which accompanies Lozanov and Gateva's (1984, 1988) Italian course contains detailed instructions of how materials should be presented during the active and passive concert.
The Active Concert. The room is well lit. The students sit calmly in their chairs. They have their texts in front of them. The teacher who is standing reads the text in the target language while an entire piece of classical music is playing in the background. The music is taken from the Vienna Classical period (e.g. works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven), and from the standard romantic repertoire (e.g. Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, in D major, op. 35). This music is rich in harmony and melody. The teacher calmly waits until the introductory part of the musical piece is finished and then begins the reading, adapting voice modulation and volume according to the rhythms and phrasing of the music. The voice virtually acts as an additional instrument of the orchestra, underlining the musical phrase. Especially important lexical items may be marked by a distinct change in intonation. The teacher looks at the students frequently and uses gestures to illustrate the text. The teacher's diction is clear and each word distinctly shaped phonetically. The students follow the text, glancing at the translations during breaks in the music, at which time the teacher does not read. At the end of the active concert there is a short break when students may get up and stretch, but not talk.
The Passive Concert. The room remains well lit. The students are again calmly seated in their chairs. The teacher, too, is now seated. The students have no texts to refer to. The music is taken from the pre-classical (baroque) period, such as works by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi (e.g. Vivaldi's Concerti for Flute and Orchestra). The character of the music is such that it creates an atmosphere of contemplation and introspection and a removal from everyday problems and conflicts. Only the materials which have been decoded and presented in the active concert are read here; no new materials may be introduced. The teacher waits until the music has begun to captivate the audience before the reading begins. The speed now is that of everyday speech with clear diction. There are no unnatural pauses during the reading. When reading a dialogue the voice is slightly changed to indicate a change in character. The students may choose whether they want to direct their attention towards the music or the reading. When the text is finished, the teacher waits for the musical piece to end, then quietly gets up and immediately leaves the room. The quiet atmosphere at the end of this session prevails. The passive concert always ends the lesson for the day.
3. R E V I E W A N D E L A B O R AT I O N. The first revision of the materials takes place on the next day. However, students are encouraged to read the text again before going to bed and on waking. It is emphasised that they should not learn the text but simply glance through it. Lozanov stresses that the material must be read on the next day or at least within 48 hours after the passive concert. He also stresses that materials must not be practised between the two concerts or immediately after the passive concert. Practice takes place during the review and elaboration sessions in the form of creative communicative exercises. These may include sketches, songs and games. Emphasis is put on meaningful communication. First, however, materials are simply re-read without elaborations. The text is then gradually expanded in terms of vocabulary and/or grammar. The review and elaboration session is usually about twice as long as the previous sessions, and may be extended until the material is believed to have been assimilated. (This may take an entire week if 700 lexical items have been presented). When this stage is reached, the cycle starts anew.
According to Lozanov (1978) a first suggestopedic language course is taught over 24 days with four 45 minute sessions daily. It can also be taught in 10 days with the equivalent hours of daily teaching. Approximately 2000 lexical items are presented during such a course. Lozanov does not specifically recommend any distribution for teaching and claims that the suggestopedic cycle can be tailored to normal school or university time tables if block teaching is not possible, without any loss in effectiveness. (Lozanov:321)
For school children Lozanov recommends a slightly different procedure during the concert session. While the active concert is almost as above with concessions made to the children's reading ability in terms of speed and understanding, the passive, or in this case pseudo-passive, concert is quite different from that for adults. The same music as for the active concert is used for the reading while the children draw on a subject of their choice. The drawings are displayed and used in the elaboration sessions. Again, Lozanov gives no specific reasons for these recommendations. The music selections for children are different from the ones for adults, however, although works are largely taken from the same composers (e.g. Handel's Watermusic, Vivaldi's Four Seasons).