Accelerated Learning – What It Is And Why Use It

Author: Ian McAllister

We May Be Too Late For Accelerated Learning

We have been kept in the dark about accelerated learning. Dr Lozanov discovered how to teach people more than a thousand words of a foreign language in one day. Students can learn to speak a language fluently in three weeks, and Lozanov’s methods could teach any other subject just as well.

Why have we been kept in the dark? Lozanov was behind the iron curtain so most of the information that we got about accelerated learning was deliberately misleading. You can probably find his open letter on the web, stating that the courses using accelerated learning offered in his name are not his courses. He also said several years ago that he would be publishing a book on the subject in six months.

I have been unable to find that book. So the best that we can do is to study books about accelerated learning that are available to us in the west.

However – it’s not the person who knows most about the subject who shines in exams – it’s the person who knows most about exams. So you don’t need Lozanov’s methods.
Just get my book of exam tips.

As Lozanov says, these books about accelerated learning have corrupted and built on the information that they had. However, these ideas seem to work, even if they are not Lozanov’s original ideas about accelerated learning.

How to choose what works

If you can get a copy of “Superlearning” by Sheila Oscrander and Lynn Schroeder you should do so. I think they are out of print, but you might be lucky. You could also search for books about suggestopedia.

Many accelerated learning scams have appeared since the idea became popular, so you should look for

  1. Start with relaxing and affirmations to remove “the glass lid”.
  2. Practice mind calming
  3. Practice breathing to a beat
  4. Background music is Baroque with 60 beats per minute. Most other music doesn’t work.
  5. Words are read in 8 second (or 12 second) groups.
  6. Another tape is listened to next day, and games are played.

The fourth and fifth items seem to be the most important. If you use the wrong music, nothing will work.

Using the method

If you can find a ready made course, and can afford it, by all means use it. One language course offered 15 years ago cost $500 so it would probably cost a thousand dollars now.

To convince yourself that the method works you should try a tape recording that uses the fourth and fifth techniques of accelerated learning. Once you know that it works, you can learn the other techniques, and use them. Each technique added 50% or more to the overall rate of learning.

You should really find a book to describe relaxation and affirmation exercises. However I’ll try to give a very short description of what you should learn.

Step 1

If you don’t have time to learn this properly, then do a simple relaxation. Sit or lie comfortably. Tense each set of muscles in turn, then consciously relax them. When you are relaxed, start your affirmations, which should be short and rhythmic. Things like “I’m ready to shock the examiner” or “I’m really having fun”.

If you want to become an expert, then you should spend a few weeks relaxing and learning to make your arms and legs (each in turn, then all together) feel heavy and limp. Then take a few weeks to learn to make them feel heavy, limp, and warm. Then learn to make your solar plexus radiate heat (biofeedback will help if you can afford it), and take a final few weeks to learn to make your forehead cold. Learn to steady your heart rate and breathing.

Now you can practice your final expert relaxation formula twice a day for five minutes each time. It goes like this “My arms and legs are heavy and warm. My heartbeat and breathing are calm and steady. My stomach is soft and radiating warmth. My forehead is cool and I feel supremely calm.”

As you can see, this has as much similarity to “just relaxing” as a golfing professional has to a child putting a golf ball around.

Step 2

Mind calming and visualization

You are relaxed from step 1. Now visualize soothing scenes from nature. Try to get as many of your senses involved as possible. See the blue sky and the green trees. Hear the birdsong and the wind. Feel the wind, and the sun on your skin. Smell the honeysuckle.

There are books on visualization, but this should be enough to get you started.

Now think back to a time in your life when you really felt good about something that you had just learned. Remember in detail just how full of joy and excitement you were, and prepare for more of the same.

Step 3

This step, like 1 and 2, is very healthy for you. If you have never tried it before then start off by finding out consciously how you breathe. You know that air goes into your lungs. Forget this. Imagine instead that it goes into your belly. Put your hand on your belly, and feel how it puffs out as you breathe in, and collapses as you breathe out. This kind of breathing is better than moving your ribs in and out.

Now control your breathing. At first you probably can’t breathe very well, but after a few weeks you should be able to manage this pattern. Have a loud grandfather clock ticking the seconds, or a metronome set to 60 beats per minute.

  1. Breathe in for 8 seconds
  2. Hold your breath for 8 seconds
  3. Breathe out for 8 seconds
  4. Hold your breath out for 8 seconds.

I personally find that controlled breathing may cure my headaches, prevent travel sickness, and get rid of nervousness, so there are definite health benefits.

Now practice your final pattern. In 2 seconds, hold 4 seconds, out 2 seconds and repeat. This is the pattern that you will use for the “concert” session.

Preparing for steps 4 and 5

This involves a lot of work. The simple part is to prepare an accelerated learning music tape with 25 minutes of baroque music at 60 beats per minute followed by 5 minutes of a faster movement. Now remove the tab from the accelerated learning tape so that you can’t tape over it by accident. You will use it repeatedly for other tapes.

The more senses we can use together, the better accelerated learning will work, so a script should be prepared for what is to be learned. Here is where a lot of work comes into it, so if you can afford to buy ready-made courses it is probably worth it.

You should draw (or obtain) little cartoons to explain everything where possible. For instance, if you are dealing with a language program, you could put the languages side by side with a picture in between. The pupil will read this script at the same time as listening to the tape.

What can you teach?

Anything factual can be taught by accelerated learning. Languages are not good for home-made tapes because you probably have a bad accent. Of course dead languages such as Latin would be ideal subjects.

You prepare something like a two-column table. Things that you might have in these column depend on your subject and might include:

12 X 2 24
12 X 3 36
12 X 12 144
sinA+sinB 2sin1/2(A+B)cos1/2(A-B)
Vitamin D deficiency rickets, cancer
Best pixels for graphics 72
Osmosis passage of molecules through semi-permeable membrane.
Enter username and password introducir nombre y contraseña del usuario

Try and keep them so that you can speak both pairs in 4 seconds. If you can’t, then gather the longer phrases together, and allow 8 seconds to speak the pair.

Target of exercise

Preparation of accelerated learning tape over a soft music background with a special speed of reading.

Plug in your headphones so that you can listen to what you are recording. Feed your microphone into the mixer, and place your baroque music tape into the right place to copy it. Now copy it, and start reading into the microphone in time to it.

Group together phrases that you can read in four seconds (you can read a lot in this time) and read them with four beats per pair followed by four beats silence. Longer phrases can be read in 8 beats, with 4 beats silence. Your mixer should be adjusted so that the music is just a soft background, very much quieter than what you are saying.

Vary your delivery to avoid monotony. One pair can be normal speech. The next pair can be a confidential murmur, and the third pair can be loud and domineering.

You will end up with an accelerated learning tape that has 150 short pairs, or 100 longer pairs in 20 minutes with five minutes of brighter music at the end. You don’t read anything during the last five minutes.

You can make as many accelerated learning tapes as you like with the same baroque music tape… just copy it each time, and blend in your speaking.

Back to step 4

You have gone through steps 1,2,3 and now you relax and listen to the accelerated learning tape. For step 5 you hold your breath each time you can hear speech on the tape, and then breathe out for two beats, and in for two beats, ready to hold your breath for the next words.

Step 6

A normal beginner’s reaction is to say “nothing has happened”. So the next day of a course the teacher might throw a ball to a student, and ask a question in Greek. The student is concentrating on catching the ball, so answers the question without thinking, and then realizes that he doesn’t speak Greek, or didn’t before yesterday’s lesson.

Another tape can be played that just has words from the lesson murmuring unobtrusively in a musical surround, without any rhythmic structuring. This is just a consolidation day.


I’ll try to find out more about Dr Lazlo’s ideas, but it is difficult because he was behind the iron curtain for so long. It seems to me that even though the method does help you to learn ten times as much per day, there would be so much time used in preparing the tapes that not much time would be saved, unless you could buy tapes ready to play.

Here are some places to start looking.

One exciting discovery is that learning snowballs, so if you learn German in three weeks, you might learn French in the next two and a half weeks and Spanish in the next two weeks.

I am dissatisfied with the information that I have on the subject, and will keep looking for more.

If you know where I could find a list of teachers trained by Lozanov, please let me know, so that I can pass on the information. Thanks in advance.