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Dialogue

Your Brain is on the Alert – with “Neues Lernen”


Susanne and Oliver are still very excited.

In town they met 2Cool, the lead singer of 2Cool2Speak. Oliver has been one of the most
enthusiastic fans of the group since their first album. He happened to meet his idol by chance in
that café. And you know what happened: 2Cool started talking to him. Oliver thought a dream
had come true. He tried hard to react. But the only thing he managed to say was “Hi, cool
sound”. He was not embarassed, no, he wasn’t, he simply didn’t know how to react in English.
Odd things were going on in his mind: “Conditional 2, Present Perfect Tense, Saxon Genetive,
…” All sorts of expressions from his grammar book had emerged in front of his inner eye. Then
something unbelievable happened: Susanne, his timid girl friend started speaking in English as
if it was the easiest thing in the world. She introduced Oliver and herself to 2Cool and told him
that Oliver was his biggest fan since the beginning. She also succeeded in getting some very
private information from 2Cool that Oliver had never heard before. After a quarter of an hour
Susanne and 2Cool said goodbye to each other, whereas Oliver blushed and left without saying
a word. He had spent fifteen minutes with 2Cool and hadn’t been able to say more than three
words.

Susanne and Oliver are sitting on a park bench now. Oliver has overcome his first shock and
starts talking:

Oliver

Susy, that was fantastic! You talked to that guy as if speaking English was the easiest thing in the
world.

Susanne

Which is true. I only applied what I have learned in the English lessons.

Oliver

But that doesn’t explain it. I’ve had a year more English than you, and I was second best in our
last grammar test.

Susanne

I have never written a grammar test. Of course, our progress is tested, too. We want to know how
good we are and how we can improve on it. However, the most important thing is using the
language in a natural way instead of just theoretical knowledge. The other day I went through
your exercise book and I had the impression that you had been doing the same things for days.
Of course, our dialogues focus on certain topics, too, but we practice them in different
activities.Change is essential in “Neues Lernen”. I always enjoy the English lessons. Well,
almost always.

Oliver

You enjoy them????????? I’m fed up with grammar and learning vocabulary.

Susanne

Well, you have English lessons and we have “Neues Lernen".

Oliver

Oh now, I remember. You belong to those people who spend their time lying around and
listening to prehistoric sound or you are making a racket.

Susanne

And you are second best in a group who have the so called proper English lessons and you can’t
say more than three words within a quarter of an hour. And that was only “Hi, cool sound".

Oliver

Well, from that point of view you might be right. What exactly is “Neues Lernen”?

Susanne

Neues Lernen is based on a method which is known as suggestopedia. In Liechtenstein the


method has been further developed and adapted by a team of highly motivated teachers. Prince
Hans Adam II. has been putting a lot of money into it.

Oliver

How did the method get started here.

Susanne

Between 1999 and 2003 there was the European project « Neues Lernen goes Europe » » This
teaching method has spread to more than ten countries.

Oliver

I’d really like to know how Neues Lernen works.

Susanne
You don’t have school on Tuesday afternoon. I’ll ask Mrs Smart (or typical name of your
country) if you can come to our English class. I’m sure it will be alright with her. She will be
willing to answer your questions after the English lesson.

It’s Tuesday and Oliver is visiting his good-looking girl friend during a ninety minute English
lesson period. He can hardly believe how quickly time has passed. Two English lessons and he
feels top fit. He sang songs, danced, read, played games, performed plays until he was sweating.

At the end of the lesson he was able to relax and listen to the whole story again, during which he
recalled some funny scenes from the sketches.

Susanne

Think about what you want to ask Mrs Smart. She´ll be here in a minute.

Mrs Smart

Hi, Oliver. How did you like it?

Oliver

I’m impressed. It was really great. I enjoyed the two lessons. Sometimes I had to make an effort
and in the beginning I was a little bit embarrassed because they all spoke so well and I had been
learning English one year longer than them. But suddenly it didn’t matter anymore. I felt like a
member of a team and wasn’t afraid of making mistakes any more.

Mrs Smart

That’s the secret of our success. Very young kids learn extremely quickly. They do not even
think that they could be ashamed of their mistakes. They take a mistake for what it is: Mistakes
tell us what we should do differently next time. Every mistake is a chance to learn and it is a part
of learning, like dung is a part of life.

Oliver

You never told me when I made a mistake.

Mrs Smart

But I did. Whenever you said something wrong, I corrected you indirectly. I repeated what you
said but used the correct language. We focus on correct speech, so why should we stress the
mistakes.

When we write, we make sure that the correct version is on the piece of paper. Instead of
highlighting the mistakes we better them.
Oliver

Sounds logical. So that’s why I felt so comfortable in your lesson.

Mrs Smart

Sure, but other things played an important role, too. “Neues Lernen” takes the newest research
into account. Learning is like playing games and playing kids learn unbelievably fast.

Susanne

Well, learning is not always that easy in our group, either. I sometimes have to make a great
effort.

Mrs Smart

That’s logical. If three children play shopping and one of them is not concentrating on the game,
he or she might not be as tired as the others at the end of the game. If the three of them enter a
real shop the next day, the two kids who did their best, will be able to handle the real shopping
situation like an adult. The third kid, however, might not be brave enough to talk to the
shopkeeper. In any case, I always make an effort to create enjoyable training situations which
will help you in real life situations. You can learn certain things in different ways. I try to do it as
easy going as possible.

Oliver

Do you mean, whatever you do, you want to make sure, that it is as easy as possible?

Mrs Smart

Yes, of course. Learning takes place in different ways. There are basicly three learning styles:
visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. For visual learners it’s very important to see what
theywant to learn. Auditory learners learn by listening, and for kinaesthetic learners movements
and emotions are very important.

Many people are mixed types, though one learning style is most dominant. “Neues Lernen”
covers all learning styles.

Oliver

That’s true. I noticed that there was a lot of variety. Can you explain the “Neues Lernen” cycle a
bit more precisely?

Mrs Smart

At the beginning we always do PACE.


Oliver

Are you talking about those weird movements at the beginning of the lesson?

Susanne

These weren´t weird movements. They were specific movements to prepare your brain for
learning.

Oliver

And what is the idea behind drinking water?

Susanne

Every kid knows that: Water is the best drink for our brain. When the brain doesn’t get enough
water, it cannot work at its best.

Mrs Smart

Before starting a new dialogue, we decipher the most important keywords. We mime the words
without speaking. Miming helps us to remember the meaning of the words most strongly.
Through using cards with the words. We learn the spelling at the same time. After that an active
concert could follow. The teacher uses special music and reads the text to the learners. She
respects the rhythm of the music and makes pauses. Pauses are important for the learners: It
gives them the time to read the translation. Apart from some very short pieces our texts are
dialogues. Our brain has been used to dialogues since a very early age. It’s perfectly prepared to
understand dialogues.

Susanne

That sounds obvious. We speak in dialogues.

Oliver

That’s what I told my teacher. He said: “Quiet please, and keep writing.” (in the target language)

Mrs Smart

Listening and speaking are extremely important, especially with beginners.

Oliver

The conversation between Susanne and 2Cool convinced me that the method really works.

Mrs Smart
Another highlight is the passive concert, which is either a creative or a review concert.

Oliver

You mean, when we relaxed?

Mrs Smart

Right. I read the dialogue to you again while you relaxed. I chose music which helps the learners
to get into a state of relaxed concentration. In this state of mind, learning is the easiest.

Oliver

Does every lesson follow the same scheme: PACE, deciphering, active concert, games and
activities, passive concert?

Mrs Smart

Pace is always at the beginning, and passive concerts take place at the end of a period. As soon
as we are acquainted with a dialogue, there is an activation phase during which we practice the
structures and vocabulary by playing a lot of different games: card games, board games, pair
games, team games ...

Susanne

...and role plays. I remember when we performed the whole dialogue as a play.

Oliver

At the beginning I thought some of the activities were very challenging. But at the end I could
always follow. When I had a real problem, I cheated by looking at the posters on the walls. You
must have forgotten to remove them.

Mrs Smart

Not at all. At that particular moment you were looking for answers on the posters, your brain
wanted to learn and was ready to receive information. Your brain was on the alert. The posters
help my students to learn without realizing it.

Oliver

That reminds me of advertising.

Mrs Smart
I think you now really understand the principles of “Neues Lernen”.I’d like to teach you a
foreign language in the way you learned your mother tongue. I use techniques which were
developed by professional people who also advise advertising companies.

Susanne

I’m happy to be in a “ Neues Lernen” group.

Oliver

I can understand that. I’d be glad, too.

Mrs Smart

Thank you for your interest in “Neues Lernen”. Unfortunately I’ve to go now and prepare my
next lessons.

Oliver

It’s a pity, I cannot take part in your lessons more often.

Mrs Smart

If you like, you can always come back. I can show you some tricks how you can change your
room into a place of “Neues Lernen".

Oliver

I’d love that. See you and thank you very much.