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"Dance on Words" or the Joy of Learning a Foreign Language

Accelerated & fun way to learn a new language through Suggestopedia - an informal teaching method developed in Bulgaria.

Photo of Elina Zheleva
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"Dance on Words" aims at teaching refugees a new language in an accelerated and fun way. The language could be English or the language of the accepting country, the method is all the same.

The idea of the project is to create a new learning environment for bigger groups of people to learn a new language which can help them change their lives by means of the teaching method Suggestopedia - considered by UNESCO experts a "generally superior teaching method compared to traditional methods". Mastering the language will allow refugees to socialise and integrate more quickly and because the method is joyful (i.e. not tiring) it also helps them overcome trauma.

The effectiveness and joy of studying comes from applying the 50 years old teaching method called Suggestopedia created by the Bulgarian psychiatrist Georgi Lozanov.

The core of this teaching approach is the student. It begins by creating as safe emotional environment as possible, where learners are unconditionally supported and are, therefore, unafraid of taking chances. It presents learners with quick successions of highly stimulating and artistic activities that appeal to all the senses. The same knowledge, coming to learners through a variety of different channels, "mutually" reinforces itself.

The key to the idea is the training of a critical mass of trainers (teachers, social workers, etc.) To this end we want to create a simple online platform. Through the platform trainers can get fundamental training which introduces them to our teaching approach. On the platform we will share the theoretical modules as well as the lesson plans and development. The making of this platform will allow us to train a critical mass of trainers, who can then give a chance to refugees to learn a new language and start a new life.

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

"Dance on Words" aims at teaching refugees a new language in an accelerated and fun way. The language could be English or the language of the accepting country, the method is all the same. The method called Suggestopedia is the secret sauce of our idea. It was invented half a century ago by a Bulgarian psychiatrist. The method has worked for so many years and now we want to apply it to refugees. We want to create an online platform to teach a critical mass of trainers (teachers, social workers, etc.) who can then give the chance to refugees to learn a new language and start a new life.

WHO BENEFITS?

The Suggestopedia method is suitable for teaching a foreign language to both children and adults. To reach refugees children and adults, trainers (teachers, social workers, etc.) have to be introduced to this method first.

PROTOTYPE

We have tried Suggestopedia for learning new languages many times and we have trained many trainers in this method. What we haven't tried is training trainers online. If we have a month to prototype, we would go through the following steps: 1. Select a few teachers 2. Share with them the theoretical modules through Google drive 3. Have a few online sessions to introduce them to the practical lesson's plan 3. Let them teach in a real environment 4. Collect feedback

FEEDBACK

We have tried Suggestopedia for learning new languages many times and we have trained many trainers in this method. The feedback is simply "Wow, this really works!" What we haven't tried is training trainers online.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

We would like to develop this idea further in partnership with designers, social entrepreneurs and refugee education communities.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

We are working on social innovation challenges with the Bagra Foundation in Bulgaria (http://www.bagra.bg). The idea came into being through discussions and brainstorming sessions of a group of people gathered by us specifically for the project.

IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?

  • Yes, I have implementation capacity and am interested in and able to make this idea real in my community.

6 comments

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Comment
Photo of Regina Ibragimova
Team

Hello, Elina. I read about your project. I'm representing an Interlingual Primary School in Athens. Due to the refugee crisis especially this year we face a huge volume of children refugees. We are very interested in you non-traditional method and would like to ask if you could share with us some theoritical modules and lesson's plan as well as tools you use in your work. Is it possible at all to make a kind of online (skype) training for our colleages who is going to handle refugee classes in our school? Thank you in advance for your information.

Best regards,
Regina Ibragimova

Photo of Jasmie Mayna
Team

Hey! I have a presentation on Suggestopedia method and I want to apply this method in Bow-wow theory..So, anyone of you can help ???

Photo of Elina Zheleva
Team

Hi Rika. Thanks for your interest! Here are some answers:

How do you envision this incorporating into existing school systems?
We can build on the existing school system. The Sugestopedia method requires the environment (the classroom) to be transformed into a more welcoming and safe place for learning. We could also support the existing school system by creating an online Sugestopedia platform for training language teachers and provding them with various useful resources (textbooks, classes, etc.).

What resources do you need for this to operate in the refugee context?
We need to build a network of potential trainers - teachers and/or social workers. We need to train them in the methods of Sugestopedia (approx. 1 month of online training). In terms of resources we would need time and contacts to build the network. The first prototype of the online platform could be build in a very basic way using existing cloud platforms like Google + and Google drive. Still some time and money will be needed to adapt the resources for different languages.

Photo of Elina Zheleva
Team

Hi Sean. Thanks for your comments! Here are some answers:

How would you imagine this idea being implemented with a refugee population?
The Sugestopedia method starts with probing the group and creating a safe environment for participation. Actual teaching/learning starts after. Depending on the refugee group (children, adults) and the trauma experiences this initial phase might be adapted and might last a bit longer in a refugee environment.

Would you propose to work in the formal UNHCR camp system? Are you an implementing partner in the UN system? Or would you need to collaborate with an existing partner? Have you considered working with urban refugees outside of the current UNHCR system?
We would gladly partner with UNHCR or others.

Have you worked with refugees in the past?
We've got diverse team and some members have worked directly with refugees. In the beginning of 2015 we did a pilot project with a football team of refugees in Bulgaria (link: http://archive.bnt.bg/bg/news/view/109691/da_nauchish_bylgarski_ezik_za_5_sedmici [in Bulgarian only])

Would this program be targeted for children or adult learners?
Both, Sugestopedia is suitable for both children & adult learners. The methods are adjusted depending on the group.

Photo of Sean Hewens
Team

Hi Elina

How would you imagine this idea being implemented with a refugee population? Would you propose to work in the formal UNHCR camp system? Are you an implementing partner in the UN system? Or would you need to collaborate with an existing partner? Have you considered working with urban refugees outside of the current UNHCR system? Have you worked with refugees in the past? And would this program be targeted for children or adult learners?

Photo of Rika Viragh
Team

Hi there! Great to see you on the platform. How do you envision this incorporating into existing school systems? What resources do you need for this to operate in the refugee context?