de Suggestopedia -

Legal Paper - De Suggestopedia Critique

deSuggestopedia Welsh for Adult Learning Welsh Method that Fails Learners


Howard Gunn argues that Joan Talfryn desuggestopedia Welsh for Adult learning is not the new 1970s scientifically proven new way of learning Welsh and the method has not validity, there claims made for the method are deceptive.

26th April 2019

Ioan Talfyn in his Cariad@iaeth SC4 learners series, claimed that desuggestopedia was a new 1970s scientifically proven method of Welsh language learning that was superior to the traditional 1947 Wlpan Skinnerist behaviourist Welsh for Adult learning method, which he referred to as learning through drilling, ‘parrot fashion’. He promised that the method was scientifically proven. He explained that his practice was based upon the method posited by Georgi Lazanov the eccentric Bulgarian clinical psychologist. He referred to it as an alternative teaching method.


      Although the Welsh language is a native language that belongs to Wales, the learning of it is not significantly different from learning any other language in the world, but the environments in which languages are learnt will differ and individual languages can have distinct characteristics. There are no mutations, changing the sounds of specific letters of words, in English as there is in Welsh, for instance, but both share a common alphabet. Welsh has only 24 letters in its alphabet however. There is nothing distinct about learning any language cognitively.


      Cognitive research illustrates that it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to develop mastery. Gunn (2017) contended that we all possess the fluency of Ph.D. academic in our native language. Most people do not possess an appreciation how complex languages are and how much work is involved in learning a new language. Professor Sarah Eaton (2011), educationalist, who went to live in Spain to learn Spanish, contends that it takes around 10,000 hours to develop fluency in a new language.


      Field (2000) contended that prior to the creation of the National Curriculum that was introduced in 1990 that every second language method had been tried by teachers. All subject boundaries are artificial constructs, and since 1987 teachers have had to conform to accepted models of proven cross-curricular teaching practice, especially since the introduction of the professional teaching councils. The word teaching professionally has a distinct meaning, which is generally not understood by most persons on the street. Kirsch (2006) claims that even professional teachers are struggling to get second language teaching right. There are no simple answers to how to teach it effectively.


      Formative teaching requires advanced teaching skills to practice. Formative community teaching of new language needs to foster the learning of a basic skill, which is at the school level of learning. New languages are difficult for learners to learn. It is nearer maths than English because it is a basic skill. It is difficult to learn new languages in the United Kingdom because they are generally not all around them. There are only 11% of fluent Welsh language speakers in Wales and Welsh is not all around learners.


      University academics have not even been required to teach since 2006. Teaching community learners is extremely different to teaching intelligent, academic learners. Universities practice is based on the Ph.D. master-apprentice model of learning, where the master disseminates their knowledge and skills to their apprentices their students There is an emphasis on students researching what they need to learn in universities. Teaching skills are needed in the community, not Ph.D.s Community learners need intense learning support. The intelligence of community learners will vary. They are often lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem (Rodgers, 2002).


      Learning a new language could be described as being attempting to climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. It requires a long term commitment to even to reach the foothills of the summit of fluent new language speaking. The reason why learners find learning to speak a new language so difficult is because a range of skills need to be coordinated together to create, generate speaking a new language. This creates demands upon working memory, it causes cognitive overload, which is similar to what happens when people attempt to use a mobile phone whilst driving.


      When learners attempt to learn a new language ‘parrot fashion’ through memorising phrases, this allows them to regurgitate what they have learnt memorised. This does not make demands upon working memory. It is like learning, memorising a song in a foreign language like “Frere Jacques” in French. This gives learners a sense of early communicative accomplishment in their new language. It is how adult learners often expect to learn. It does not provide secure avenues to longer-term learning success.


      The Wlpan behaviourist learning methods required learners to drill phrases and learn them like parrots. Ioan Talfryn has been expecting learners to memorise his acted stories. In his 2015 S4C series, he gave his learners text of his pantomime story on woodland animals in Welsh and English. He was expecting learners to work out the Welsh from the English translation. He was expecting them to practice it every night. All he was doing his lessons was expecting learners to mould words, barcode print, listen to the language, and sing and dance. He was entertaining learners and do all the work. He was claiming if you memorised the words and grammar of the pantomime they could apply it generally. This was delusional.


      Ultimately in our native language, 70% of phrases we fluently use will be memorised one.s (Eysneck and Keane, 2010). It is impossible for them to simply be mechanically learnt through rote practice. It can only be achieved through constructional language practice, where phrases are worn down in our memories through practical usage. It is like treading down paths through long grass over thousands of hours of practice. The memorided phrases are stored in the brain in complex interrelated form.


Ioan Talfryn’s Ants in the Head Research


      There is no validity to Ioan Talfryn’s desuggestopedia method. He is simply entertaining learners as opposed to teaching them. His ‘Ants in Head’ research illustrates that his practice is based on a misunderstanding of Krashen heavily criticised Monitor Model. Saville Troike (2006) a leading American second language authority, refers to many of Krashen's claims as being vague, imprecise, and difficult to prove. She claim his work was practiced in the 1980s and 1990s, but the pendulum have swung in the opposite direction towards formal grammar teaching.            


      The Welsh of Adult service appears to be the only second language in the developed world that claims grammar should not be taught. Professional registered teachers would be placed on a competency procedure for not teaching grammar. Helen Meek in the W.J.E.C. Cwrs Mynediad advises learners not to learn grammar/


      Keith Field (2000) contended that second language teaching is an educational disaster area, and it is not teacher’s fault. He lamented that no major report had ever been devoted to second language learning. English language is well researched. There is a vast literature on the teaching of English and in teaching learners English as a second language. There are broad similarities between learning new language and learning maths, especially children learning their number bonds and multiplication tables. These cannot be learnt instantly. They cannot be learnt subconsciously either. It is congnitively impossible.


      Ioan Talfryn clearly does not know how to teach, or learners learn. His concept is that learners are inanimate objects that information can be poured into like petrol into a tank. It is what Confucious 551 B.C. referred to ‘feed the duck’ philosophy of learning. Ioan Talfryn’s concept is that learners can to quote his research absorb 800 words and the main grammar in a single introductory lesson, what he refers to a ridiculous, inviting to be mocked, amount of information is silly. His claim that they can bw subconsciously absorbed and they go around the head and come out of the brain a few days later is delusional.


      Kelly and Phillips (2018) explained the cognitive basis of learning, which is not rocket science. Information enters the brain through our senses. We process unfamiliar information through working memory into the long term memory store. Memory is constructed through growing synapses in the brain. As Petty (2010) contended, memory decays over time. 50% of factual information is lost within a hour of learning it. Learning new language words is not different to learning a new arbitrary, random security code, we all know how difficult they are to learn.


 Cariad@ieath S4C deSuggestopedia


      Ioan Taflryn when demonstrated his methods on S4C. He dressed up as ‘bear’ and his co-presenter ‘goldilocks’. He gave his celebrities animal masks and his christen’s them with animal names. They gave his adult celebrities a Welsh language children’s pantomime.


      Chait (2000) contended that young children early language is structured, and it is built up from the word. Flynn (2008) contended that communicating with parents has a strong influence upon children’s early language development. Sweller (2017) educational psychologist, who is a world authority on cognitive overload, contends that adults cannot learn like young children learn their first language. This is because very young children are primed to learn oral language naturally. Adults cannot learn like three-year olds. There is no evidence of anyone in the world apart from Ioan Talfryn believes that this is possible.


      Ioan Talfryn also claimed that if learners dance and listen to music or sing, they can learn vast amounts of language. Sweller (2017) contend that learning from two modalities, phonological and visual, does not impact on working memory if they are congruent, but information that needs to be processed in the same modality causes interference, cognitive overload. Music and language is processed in the same modality. It can cause cognitive overload. It does not enhance learning. It will do no harm if it is not too loud and it is not actively listened to. What is referred to as the ‘Mozart Affect’ only applies to spatial learning.


      Ioan Talfryn's series was supported by Bangor University where he had been practicing the Wlpan method in the Welsh for Adult Service under contract to them for over a decade. They were supposed to offer him professional development to him.


Window Dressing


      Ioan Talfryn even claims in his research that he learnt Breton after he was drowned in it on a intensive course for only ten days. He claimed that he could not instantly speak it, but when he returned to Wales he met those who taught him in the Welsh Eisteddfod in Cardiff, where he discovered he had ‘flipped’ and that he could speak Breton quite fluently. It is unclear if this is how he learn the other additional languages he claims he can speak. He claims he can speak six.


      There is a reference to obscure theories like complexity theory in Ioan Taflryn’s research. They are so complex there is no evidence anyone can understand them. The conclusions that he derides from it is that “If you have a lot of simple interactors, and let them interact, then the result can be rather complex.”. His explanation of his “Ants in the Head Theory is that “Replace ants neurons and pheromones with neurotransmitters, and you might just as well be talking about the human brain". These are theories that are simply designed to impress readers and justify his methods.


      The explanation is delusional. I knew once I was too lazy and apathetic to undertake a simple Google search to establish the perverted gospel that he speaks to learners.




      There was no requirement for Welsh for Adult tutors to teach until 2006 in the university Welsh for Adult academicservice. There has been a history of them developing their D.I.Y. tutoring methods. The service they are offering is a community one, not an academic one. The level of teaching is formative. It is at the school level of teaching. Whilst professional teachers require intensive training, the Welsh for Adults tutors do not appear to be given any quality training.


      Ioan Talfryn’s practice illustrates what when “Tom, Dicks and Mary’s” try to teach a complicated skill like learning a second language. It pertains to the Michael Gove, former English Education Minister’s philosophy that teachers do not need to be trained.


     Adults are enthusiastic intelligent learners who will engage in a lot of self-study and will be inclined to blame themselves when they do not succeed in their learning. Professors David Reynolds, who is a leading world authority on school effectiveness, and Daniel Mujis (2001) is now head of Ofsted research referred to the need to abandon D.I.Y. methods, teachers making up their methods, across the world, Ioan Talfryn has only making up his D.I.Y. methods, he was tutoring absolutely nothing, and he was expecting learners to apply D.I.Y. learning also.

      There is no evidence that Ioan Taflryn is practising desuggestopedia as most tutors practice it. His lack of understanding of the most elementary principles of learning is abjectly alarming. His learning advice, his flipping theory, his advice the learners to cram with them information if they are struggling, the source is the late crank Lazanov is the educational equivalent of doctors advising their patients to smoke. This is what happens when tutors use methods devised by clinical psycholgist was unlikely to ever taught a single learner because you found this extreme element is methods of trash. When he developed them in the 1970s,


      When I improved my Welsh I experienced how difficult it was to learn and bring into fluency the three verb Welsh verb tenses. They have different affixes for each person of each verb. The same affix arises in different persons in different tenses. This causes interference.


        Ioan Talfryn was singing and dancing with his learners as they read three sets of verbs from a wall. It ended without any attempt being given to assess whether they had been learnt, absorbed by anything. This is because he claimed that according to his ‘Ants in head’ theory they would only come out of the brain three days later having been baked like buns in an oven. I never cured in my thirty years of teaching experience including my work teaching adults with learning difficulties part-time, of any inspector having to come back three days later to seek to assertain whether children and adults have learnt anything in lessson.


      Ioan Talfryn’s claimed his methods appeared counter-intuitive on SC4 Cariad Iaeth. It certainly was. It was also extremely deceptive. A degree in common in sense should not needed to work out if learners learn something subconsciously they would not be aware it what come out and this allowed him to claim anything he liked about what he presented with them. The fact he qualified it by stating they will eventually come out illustrated knew what he was doing. He must have known what you sing and dance in front of those lists of words that teaching - strictly speaking they were just singing them - if those learners do actively lesson they would be unlikely to instantly absorb them.


    The only time learners were seen constructing, creating languages was when they required them to speak whilst the toy animals.  Derek wiwer Brockway, who had been re-christen as squirrel, was demonstrating his school learnt O’Level Welsh when he was featured speaking Welsh to a squirrel. This was a method he was advertising, practising in his Welsh service. 


    Hunter and Turner (2007), honest Welsh Language tutors stated that:-


“There is anxiety among the authorities responsibility for arranging courses in the study of Welsh concerning the very large number of students who fail to complete courses. I wonder why a student would abandon his course?”


“Perhaps there might be private reasons, but one has to ask why he began the course in the first place – as a consequence of persuasion or enticement, or a promise of promotion at work? Perhaps in order that the authorities might improve their statistics? It is possible that some people are attracted by catchph1ases such as: ‘Welsh is fun’, ‘Welsh is easy’, ‘Welsh in a week’ “


“Everyone who thinks of learning Welsh seriously has to consider Why? Am I prepared to work hard and to give a great deal of time, regularly, to study? There is no justification for learning superficially.”


     Ioan Talfryn’s was preaching the gospel of accelerated learning. The theme of his cramming learning is clearly intended to promise learners can learn much more rapidly in their lessons. It is claimed that they could subconsciously learn a thousand words, where he even admits that others only introduce twelve, what ridiculously disproportionate and only be described as a pathological lie.

He was applying these soundbites are deceitfully promise learners what he could not be delivered and impress learners what he was achieving. What the was not demonstrating on his program, which celebrity saw through, as he never showed language construction. Language is created in the brain.


      Teaching should be a learning process for teaching and child. (Gunn 2010) Anyone who does not know how to learn is not fit to practice, especially if they are uncommitted to constantly developing their teaching. Ioan Talfryn has been playing being a tutor and researcher. He does not appear to even understand that a literature exists, let alone know what it is in. If the Welsh Government is really committed to offering English speaking leaners the opportunity to learn Welsh, then the time is long overdue when the Welsh for Adult service can become a registered service direct by legally qualified teacheers so it can be solely dedicated to serving Welsh learners needs, to ensure their hard earned money they pay to receive the service, and the public money used to support it is not wasted.

                                                                                                                               Howard Gunn B.Ed., M.Ed

                                                                                                              Website and

Howard Gunn, who has website, is retired professionally trained primary teacher. He possesses a higher educational degree in mathematical education. He improved his Welsh in his retirement. He written researched privately published books in his retirement on second language learning, language cognition and working memory. These conclusions referred to his 2017 book, “Political Dreams, Practical Realities. The Future of Welsh Language and Welsh Teaching and Learning”. A Google pdf version of the book is available on 



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Gunn (2017) A New Applied Perspective on First and Second Language Learning; including Music and Mathematics. Pontypridd, Denbigh Publications


Flynn, N. (2008) Living in Two Worlds: The Language Development of Young Bilinguals in Marsh, J and Hallet, E. Desirable Literacy: Approaches to Language and Literacy in the Early Years. London: SAGE


Hunter,H.(2007) in Hunter,H. & William,C. in Dysgu Cymraeg Talybont:Llofa


Kelly, K and Phillips, S. (2016) Teaching and Learning with Dyslexia. A Multi-sensory Approach. Sage: London.

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Saville-Troike, M. (2006) Introducing Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: C.U.P.


Sweller, J. (2017) Cognitive Load Theory and Teaching English as a Second Language to Adult Learners  TESL Ontario | CONTACT Magazine | August, 2017















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