New Pedagogy Of Subconscious Training In English Skills

Subconscious Training In Student-Centered Class
Sergey Nivens/
Summary: Why do so many students easily forget the lesson taught? Because the appalling forgetting curve characterizes the conventional methods of conscious learning ESL. Besides, they can't stop the cross-translation habit. How to resolve those issues? This article describes a solution to these problems.

Subconscious Training In Student-Centered Class

Subconscious acquisition of language skills is a concept that prominent linguist Stephen Krashen has demonstrated for decades through extensive research, but most teachers still challenge it. The pedagogical theory doesn't accept that subconscious acquisition is a sustainable method to acquire language skills. For learning ESL, we use a multitude of teaching methods. All those methods have one common feature: They use conscious learning and memorization.

The Primary Way The Teaching Of English Operates And Its Basic Methods Are Never Debated

Conventional methods flourish despite a very low success rate and opinions, like this one by famous educator Amorey Gethin:

The teaching of English as a foreign language is a global industry. It has many millions of customers and employs thousands of teachers and other workers. It has been a global industry, in fact, for several decades. Yet, the primary way it operates and its basic teaching methods are never debated. Nor is there discussion of whether people are learning English or any other foreign language better than they did forty or fifty years ago. Instead, the industry just gets bigger and bigger.

Krashen's subconscious acquisition hypothesis never became the mainstream language learning method because Krashen did not define what subconscious training is and how to differentiate it from conscious learning. Another reason is that the Acquisition Hypothesis didn't consider technological innovations and digital learners' new learning habits. Krashen's acquisition theory is inconsistent; for example, Krashen advocates the principle "first listening and then speaking," assuming that adults will reproduce their success as children when they acquired their native language. This principle is wrong because the learners who first listen and then speak are performing exclusively conscious learning.

There Is A Reason Why Adults Can't Reproduce The Success They Had When Acquiring The Native Language

There is another reason adults can't reproduce their success as children acquiring their native language. Children acquire their native language by a subconscious process as described in this article, whereas adults use conscious learning, and most of them fail in this obsolete process.

The subconscious training for adults that I have developed and patented differs drastically from Krashen's hypothesis.

Our mind has two modes of operations:

  1. System 1 (subconscious) operates on autopilot and has a processing speed of a few orders of magnitude faster than the other mode.
  2. System 2 (conscious) allocates attention to the effortful mental activity and is very slow. Besides, it suffers from an appalling forgetting curve.

Here is a rule of thumb when a learner performs subconscious training and when they perform conscious learning:

  • If a learner performs one or two actions, it is conscious learning or memorization (examples: speaking, reading, and listening; video watching and listening).
  • If a learner performs three or more actions simultaneously, it is subconscious training in English skills (examples: (a) simultaneously reading, listening, speaking; (b) listening, speaking, and typing).

Be aware that there is no clear boundary between conscious and subconscious activity. For example, let's consider a person who started to take his driving lessons. In the beginning, he is focusing on the different moves involved and is not capable of doing anything else. That's because he's still driving the car consciously and mentally checks every movement. A few weeks later, driving is performed automatically as if on autopilot. A person driving could even start a discussion while driving, and when he reaches his destination, he is not aware of his driving experience in detail.

The driving activity has been made subconsciously or on autopilot. In this case, the driver's mind can perform new tasks alongside driving in a conscious mode! As this example shows, we often start an activity in a conscious manner that quickly turns into a subconscious action after multiple repetitions of the same steps.

Driving a car, figure skating, playing a musical instrument, martial arts skills, or speaking a foreign language, all these skills contain a multitude of repetitive steps that could be performed in a subconscious mode much faster. Therefore, they are trained through System 1. During these skills trainings, the brain finds and records the patterns that it can perform much faster by turning off conscious control that is very slow and has many limitations, such as an appalling forgetting curve.

Performing 3 Actions (Reading, Listening, And Speaking) Simultaneously Is Called Simultaneous Repetition

Performing three actions (reading, listening, and speaking) simultaneously, we would call simultaneous repetition. It was never used for language learning, although simultaneous repetition results in a multitude of new features:

  • It automatically turns off the habit of thinking in the native language since performing three actions at the same time fully occupies our attention, and learners cannot do anything else, including cross-translating.
  • It helps learners establish direct wiring between words in English and images or actions they describe without going back to the ingrained habit of cross-translating the incoming information into their native language.
  • Learners reproduce visually known situations exclusively in English, thus starting thinking in English from the first lessons.
  • It requires a mobile app for creating an environment for performing reading, listening, and speaking simultaneously. A teacher cannot create such an environment.
  • It allows the learners to practice English concurrently in the class irrespective of the number of students in the class. It increases the practice time for each student to 80-90% of class or online time.
  • It allows learners to use the mobile app for self-training both in the classroom or online learning and at home, wherever and whenever they need it.

The New Pedagogy Of Subconscious Training Dictates Teachers To Move To A Student-Centered Classroom Or Online Study

The new pedagogy of subconscious training means that teachers have to move to a new classroom and online English learning, so-called, student-centered. Teachers realize that lecturing and explaining English does not result in knowledge transfer, so teachers should change their methodology and become coaches. Subconscious training facilitates self-training in English skills. It is augmented by coaches familiar with this new pedagogy.

It is high time for interested, dedicated, and conscientious teachers to stop being the cogs of the status quo machine in the face of obvious evidence of its failure. Teachers will need mutual encouragement, solidarity, practical organization, and motivation to disrupt the status quo and bring the new pedagogy of subconscious training to the masses.

Simultaneous repetition is the primary tool of the new pedagogy of subconscious training. I want to stress that the new pedagogy incorporates a multitude of new processes that were never used for learning languages before:

1. Each lesson starts with a drill that succeeds in (a) activating the right brain and ensures whole-brain learning and (b) invoking a process known in psychology as priming implicit memory, also called "retention without remembering."

In this drill called "Word Cloud," the learners observe the words appearing one-by-one on display. The words are randomly selected from a lesson text and displayed while relaxing music plays for about a minute.

The Word Cloud strengthens subconscious learning by invoking priming implicit memory—retention without remembering.

Learners subconsciously record the Word Cloud words and recognize them in a lesson text and transfer them to long-term memory during the simultaneous repetition. Word Cloud also performs the function of activating the right brain and ensuring the whole-brain training process. World Cloud contains words randomly selected from a new lesson and displayed in 3D fonts and different colors with different orientations in 3D space, which activate the brain's right hemisphere.

2. Support in the learners' native language is built-in the app through the Google Translate software and ensures a stress-free self-training environment. When a learner starts the app for the first time, they select the native language so that whenever they need support, the whole text or any portion of it would be translated into the desired native language. Showing the text of a lesson in the learner's native language is used for creating a visual image while practicing exclusively in English.

Support In The Learners' Native Language Ensures A Stress-Free, Self-Training Environment

When a visual image is created, it makes any text comprehensible. A learner performing three actions (reading, listening, and speaking) simultaneously forms direct links between English words and the images or actions that these words describe. Support follows a few rules that preclude the habit of cross-translation. For example, translation is never pronounced aloud; it is never shown along with the English text; translation of a sentence is displayed for about 10 seconds, the time sufficient to create a visual image but not enough to remember the words as translations into the native language.

Support in the native language could be invoked at any time and for any amount of text selected by a learner. However, if a learner highlights only one word for translation, the program automatically highlights and translates a whole sentence with the unknown word. It is done to ensure contextual translation when only one meaning of a word is selected for translation.

3. Each lesson in the Android app for subconscious training English skills has 3 types of text:

  1. Lesson and drills recorded in Special English by a native speaker. Special English— by 30% slower speech speed; short sentences and restricted vocabulary of 1,500 most frequently used words.
  2. Text added by a learner/teacher is used for simultaneous repetition by text-to-voice program built-in the app.
  3. An encouraging and motivating poem recorded by a native speaker.

The Android application lets learners create their lessons by copying any text from the internet or entering it manually and using the high-quality text-to-speech program for simultaneous repetition of a lesson created by a learner or a teacher. The text could be added from any source, for example, from Transcripts of shows or input manually, thus making the application interactive, personalized, and appropriate for vocational training.

Efficient learning occurs when learners are involved emotionally in practicing the texts and inspirational poems recorded by a native speaker. After multiple simultaneous repetitions of uplifting verses, the learners could recite them by heart, similar to their favorite songs. When a learner completes simultaneous repetition without omissions or mistakes, the app recommends recording the learner's recitation. A learner may share their recording via a social network or attach it to an email and send it to friends or a teacher.

4. A new type of self-testing of active vocabulary is included in the mobile application. Active vocabulary consists of words that learners can use in communication without thinking or remembering. This proprietary self-testing tool not only measures the active vocabulary quantitatively but also develops learners' ability to speak automatically.

5. This indirect feedback is more efficient than discouraging direct feedback based on pronunciation, according to speech recognition software. Learners test themselves by speaking on a topic suggested by a word that drops down randomly from the Word Cloud.

I consider especially detrimental the feedback based on voice recognition since even the most advanced speech recognition systems often don't recognize non-native speech and create discouraging feedback. This kind of feedback is popular with AI companies creating language programs despite being demotivating. Luckily, this type of feedback is not possible in subconscious training pedagogy since coaches are trained to avoid any conscious control or direct feedback.

After the learners complete each lesson, they perform self-testing of active vocabulary by putting on earphones with a microphone. The learners say a few sentences on any topic that includes a word that drops down randomly from the Word Cloud. The learner continues testing for about thirty words before starting to work on the next lesson. The built-in self-testing tool also allows measuring fluency and using it for indirect feedback. This drill helps learners develop automatic speech habit when learners could create sentences with a speed of two or three words per second. This objective could be achieved only when learners start thinking in English. A self-testing drill could also measure the learner's progress in subconscious training and create a feeling of accomplishment.

6. What Is Mental Modeling?

 “The inventions I have conceived in my brain have always worked.” – Nikola Tesla

Mental modeling or simulation is based on the thinking tools that we use to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems. Unfortunately, we use it daily in our everyday life but rarely apply this principle to create or evaluate scientific discovery. One of the most outstanding scientists of all time, Nikola Tesla obtained more than 100 patents in his lifetime. He also provided the most remarkable example of mental modeling. He used mental modeling to test his inventions; they appeared before his eyes as functioning realities that he could stop and start as though they were there. He wrote, "The inventions I have conceived in my brain have always worked." He did his experiments after a patent was issued. Not a single time did he find a discrepancy between real experiments and those executed in his mind.

I elaborate on mental modeling because it is the best way to evaluate the information in this article. Reread the article and do a mental simulation in your head, and you will get an intuitive answer to why and how it works. Moreover, you will be able to answer any question related to subconscious training in English skills, such as why flashcards should not be used or why conscious learning is inefficient in acquiring English skills.