Author: Nadezhda Tzvetkova
George Bernard Shaw had said that life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself. Julia Karemova, the founder of the Crearte system (from the Latin "create yourself") strongly believes in this maxim. Julia is a suggestopedagogue, trained in the classical method of Prof. Lozanov, she is a longtime teacher of English, and a graduate of the French School of Leadership Psychology of Frank Nicolas. Since May 2021 she is also a certified personal development coach.
After graduating from the Academy of Arts in Sofia, majoring in Art History, studying for two years Rehabilitation at the Medical College, Julia left for France, where she participated in the latest experiment of Dr. Georgi Lozanov - creator of the world-renowned UNESCO method for learning without learning ”- suggestopedia. From a distance she prepared herself using the teaching system through music, art, theater and psychological exercises, achieving remarkable results in just 6 weeks. Impressed by the effect of the methodology, she returned to Bulgaria, where she trained as a suggestopedia teacher.
Over the years, she developed her own individual approach, based on suggestopedia, which proved to be inseparable from art, cognitive psychology and even astrology. She supports people in the self-learning process in the first of its kind experimental groups “Suggestopedia at home” with Bulgarians from around the world so they can develop their abilities without fear and overcome the blockages in communication.
Although she has undergone a series of popular training courses, Julia is so down to earth and positive that she immediately closes the distance, predisposes and captivates the interlocutor. The truth is that she does not teach cliché rehearsed models, does not patronize her students, but supports them on their path to self-development. Because this is her own path, on which she continues to walk with love and devotion.
- Julia, could you introduce yourself to our readers? You are not originally from Plovdiv. What brought you to the city under the hills?
-Plovdiv is my dream come true. I have lived in Alaska, Spain and France, but I have returned here periodically for twenty years to wander the magical ancient places alone. And why a dream? I was still 20 years old when I wished to live here one day. I returned to Plovdiv and because I followed my heart – most unexpectedly after my divorce, I met my soul mate here. If someone had told me that my life would go this way when I was experiencing the hardship of divorcing with the father of my child, I wouldn’t have believed it. That is why it is worth not being afraid of change, but instead embracing it and turning it into a fuel for personal transformation. On this occasion, I often recall a thought from my beloved Carl Jung: “Don't hold on to someone who's leaving, otherwise you won't meet the one who's coming.” Well, I’ve experienced this saying personally.
- What is suggestopedia? How is this system different from traditional methods of presenting and learninga subject?
- Using suggestopedia, Dr. Lozanov proved in the 60s and 70s of the last century the vast capacity of our brain to absorb many times more study material without stress but rather in a relaxing way – through joy, inspiration, music and theater. The method is based on the psychophysiological laws of the brain and unlocks the hidden reserves of the individual. UNESCO recognized the methodology as superior to the others, after a commission closely monitored its application. Thus, in 1978, the work of Prof. Lozanov received wide international publicity. In the meantime, he was arrested by the communists and remained under house arrest for 10 years. The method was then leaked to the West under the name "Super learning/Accelerated learning" and is now spread all over the world under other names. After the fall of the communist regime, Dr. Lozanov was invited by the Austrian president, who set up an institute in Vienna to train teachers from around the globe. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the method was sinking into oblivion in our country and there are often lies that it was a "sleep method". The negative effect of the whole history for us Bulgarians is that it rather remains a buried and forgotten treasure.
- When was your first encounter with the classical suggestopedia taught by the method of Prof. Lozanov? What does it mean to you personally?
- I found out about suggestopedia in my frantic search for an alternative and more effective way of learning a new language when I left Bulgaria to live in Bordeaux. I went to France due to my now ex-husband’s work. We had the burning desire to emigrate legally and in order to be able to integrate, I urgently needed to learn French. The intensive language courses were too expensive - just for comparison, a course for thirty days was costing as much as his entire monthly salary. I believed that there were ways to study, which can allow us to use more effectively our brain. I will never forget how enthusiastically I said that and a week later I came across the first video with Prof. Lozanov who was still amongst the living at the time. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I contacted the foundation and the associate of Prof. Lozanov – Mrs. Vanina Bodurova, who had mercy on me and supported me to do the first experiment to prepare myself for my upcoming exam in French alone at home. This was such a miracle for me. In just 6 weeks, following the suggestopedic laws and thanks to strong faith and unlocked creativity, I managed to take a difficult exam, without a teacher and without the familiar stressful learning. I was able to experience the spontaneous release of brain reserves, described by the professor himself. I remember how I cried and what a new path opened up for me. A year later we decided to return to Bulgaria and to train for suggestopedia pedagogues. Vanina and I have parted for years, but the deep gratitude I have for her and Prof. Lozanov still remains in my heart. Unfortunately, in Bulgaria there is a great division between different suggestopedic schools, from which I have consciously chosen to distance myself and I am no longer even aware of what is happening within these circles.
- You are the founder of the first of its kind system, which you titled “Crearte”. How does it differ from the classical method of prof. Lozanov? Is this a system to learn foreign languages on your own or is it more than that?
- Dr. Lozanov planned to develop self-learning through suggestopedia at home in the future. Alas, he left his earthly path on 6th of May, 2012, right in the middle of our experiment. It was hard for everyone, and I needed to pull myself together psychologically to continue on my own. I can’t lie to anyone that what I’m using now in my groups is pure suggestopedia. It would have been if our experiment had been described clinically, if Dr. Lozanov had researched and documented everything in his own way. However, the experiment was a success. New ones followed, I enriched them with my training in psychology and personal development. I often tell my students that when they enter the suggestopedic hall, they find themselves in a prepared environment. Half the method is in this environment, in the grammar boards, in the atmosphere. But what do we do when we are alone at home? When there is no teacher or suggestopedia school around us, or we don’t have the time or the financial means? Well, that’s what happened to me in France, where I experienced in a really devastating way my personal “lockdown” and social isolation. This is where Crearte comes to help (from Latin “create yourself”) – create this beauty in your life by yourself through personal transformation, boldly follow the path of your dreams, plant your garden, but make sure to remove the weeds (the so-called desuggestion) and build your dream self and with the help of suggestopedia, do it in a foreign language – English, French – whatever you want!
- What are the main factors underlying self-learning through suggestopedia and why? Is it really possible to stay motivated by studying alone at home?
- The main factor is psychological – I work individually with each of my students through the technique of personal development, getting to know their goals, dreams and obstacles to achieve them. We work to build better habits so that they can successfully integrate in their routine the learning of a language on a daily basis. It is possible to keep our motivation alone? It’s not easy! And not everyone succeeds. Few are really motivated. However, I’m there for all of them, even for the few ones in each of my groups, I don’t excel the others, so I am absolutely convinced – If I can succeed, so can they. I am already seeing results, and this fills my heart with great joy. Yes, many do not resist building new habits, but there are people who build themselves with perseverance, and that is the key.
- You have already mentioned that in classical suggestopedia the material is perceived in a specially prepared "orchestrated environment" by the teacher, who is the main figure in the organization and conduct of the learning process. How do you manage to meet the individual needs of your students in a digitally remote environment?
- We have regular meetings on Zoom, there are also videos through which they get acquainted with the method. As I have already shared, we rely on suggestopedic laws, but we also have individual consultations. I outline the frame and they start to create themselves (in this particular case through learning English). I was alone in my experiments, but no one can stand in the way of a brave and searching heart. This is what I am trying to convey to my students.
- In your youtube channel you talk about self-learning through the prism of beliefs, habits, emotions. How do you eradicate the psychological “weeds” that hinder us in the process of our growth? What is the significance of love as a foundation?
- I rely entirely on my positive experience with the experiments I have conducted over the years. Studying on your own at home goes through self-knowledge, working with emotions, introducing the right organization of the day, and here comes to aid my bilingual notebook "Agenda". The most difficult challenge is changing habits - we all know how difficult the process is. And this is where love or the first suggestopedic law comes to the rescue. All this as a process happens through the prism of love - everything you love that fills your heart. Self-love, moving away from perfectionism and self-sabotage.
- You say that an integral part of learning at home alone is the so-called “Morning ritual”. Tell us more about it.
- I work with busy people. Often these are women who combine the exhausting roles of mother, wife and conscientious employee; women who often do not take a minute of personal time for themselves. I live these roles myself. I know how hard it is, but I also know that it is the morning routine (plus good sleep, they are inseparable) that is the basis of success.
My second personal experiment was on business French. I was with a three-year-old child, commuting in Sofia for two hours a day for work. I was preparing the whole menu in the morning for the child's backpack, as well as mine, not because of a special food regime, but because we have chosen for her to visit alternative children’s garden using the Montessori method. With very few exceptions, all the housework fell to me. And how in this situation to get out of the vicious circle and advance yourself to find a better paid job, because you have suddenly decided to change your life? Where to find time? Well, I did! I started to get up at 5am every morning, to take time for sports and I started resolutely with the French in the familiar suggestopedic way. Did I have a teacher? No. Did I have study materials? No. Not in the conventional sense of the word, because again - when the student is ready, the teacher appears. A week later, I came across a unique Canadian, actually an Italian, who grew up in France and immigrated to Canada. At first I understood almost nothing, but he inspired me deeply. So, thanks to psychology and the work on myself, I managed to change my job in 5 months, to do great and to invest in unique trainings with him, thanks to which I can be of use to people.
- And is there a connection between astrology and learning?
- Yes, huge. Even when I was teaching English in the standard way, even just knowing the sun sign of the students helped me to support people individually. At the moment, I do not have a single student who refuses to include examination of their astrological chart in the individual consultations. People’s challenging aspects are written there, but I, as a suggestopedia teacher, do not like to dwell on them and drown in fatalism. Together we are looking for the keys to the doors of those strengths and positive aspects that will support them in the manifestation of their personal potential. As a suggestopedia teacher, I believe deeply in the hidden reserves of the individual. The astrological chart is like a picture in which the possibilities for exit and development of the internal resources are written.
- You are about to have a live seminar in Plovdiv. What will be the main topics?
In this seminar I will tell people how they can successfully organize their day, how to reduce stress, because this is a huge challenge for everyone lately. We will work with the "Agenda" notebook, which everyone registered, will receive as a gift. And most of all, I will share with you my recipe for happiness. I am a really happy person - I overflow with gratitude, joy and satisfaction. And for this purpose it is often essential to have the tool to work with our emotions, to develop our creativity - the heart of joy. I will share with everyone a wonderful art therapeutic technique for bilateral brain stimulation - or the so-called bilateral integration, which is achieved by drawing, dancing or moving with both hands. All good things, which bring more happiness to our lives. And people deserve it, especially after the ordeal for everyone in the last two years. I want to bring more colour and harmony to life - there are ways, as there are recipes for bread, and there are recipes for happiness.