Hacking the receptive skills and enhancing metacognition in the MFL classroom

Workshop 1 (2 hours) – Breaking the sound barrier: teaching listening bottom-up

Listening is by far the most neglected of the four language skills. It also the least effectively taught and the one MFL students feel the most anxious about (Vafaee, 2016). One of the reasons for this state of affairs is that most language teachers do not receive much training in this area of MFL pedagogy and, when they do, the methodology is based on ‘quizzes’ (‘true or false?’ or ‘wh questions’) and on an obsolete top-down approach (e.g. listening for gist focusing on key words, predicting content and guessing words from context). Consequently, much current listening skills instruction feels more like testing than modelling and fails to train students in the micro-skills that any listener needs to master to comprehend aural texts effectively (Rost, 2009).

In this highly interactive workshop, after walking the delegates through the psycho-linguistics mechanisms underlying the listening comprehension process, the facilitator will present and demonstrate his L.A.M. (listening as modelling) approach, a methodology which is based on two fundamental assumptions: (a) listening should model language NOT test students through quizzes; (b) whilst traditional tasks training students to work out the gist of a text and infer meaning strategically do have a place, in listening instruction, L.A.M. purports to provide extensive practice in the bottom-up micro-skills essential to effective listening comprehension: Decoding, Lexical Retrieval and Parsing Skills (Smith and Conti, 2016).

Workshop 2 (1 ½ hours) – Metacognition in the MFL classroom

Metacognition refers to an important set of skills which regulates cognition and affect. In other words, metacognition encompasses the processes, skills and strategies involved in monitoring and regulating everything we do, think and know as well as how we feel. Research shows that language learners who are more metacognizant tend to be more successful and that metacognition can be enhanced through explicit training. This workshop’s aim is to show how metacognitive training can be embedded seamlessly in language instruction. After presenting minimal-prep strategies for modelling generic self-monitoring in the language classroom, the facilitator with focus on more elaborate approaches to metacognition enhancement specific to listening, speaking, writing and vocabulary learning.

Workshop 3 (1 ½ hours) – Beyond quizzes and guesses: implementing reading-to-learn with novice to intermediate level learners

In the first part of this course, the facilitator will delve into the psychology of reading, outlining the processes and sub-skills involved in reading comprehension, thereby demonstrating why the models of L2 reading instruction currently implemented in English secondary school are developing effective student readers. He will then discuss strategies for enhancing reading comprehension and for exploiting the potential of L2 written texts for promoting writing development, i.e. what is commonly referred to in the literature as ‘reading-to-write’ approach. Using a text from a past GCSE examination reading paper he will demonstrate a principled approach to the design of pre-, in- and post-reading tasks.

Presenter Profile

1-861-Passport Photo (ESD)_Gianfranco Co

An applied linguistics MA and PhD graduate Gianfranco Conti has been teaching MFL for over 25 years both at primary, secondary and university levels. He has researched the impact of metacognitive strategies training and error correction on essay writing under the supervision of Oxford University Ernesto Macaro both during his PhD and a large-scale project in English comprehensive schools documented in Professor Macaro (2001)’s book. He currently has lexicogrammar acquisition, listening instruction, metacognition, error correction and learner autonomy as main research interests.

Formerly head of languages at various schools in England and abroad, he is currently a French and Spanish teacher at an international school in South-East Asia where he has been implementing his methodological approach: Extensive Processing Instruction (EPI).

Dr Conti is also a renowned conference speaker and CPD provider mostly active in the UK, South-East Asia and Australia. This is what CEO of researchED and educational influencer Tom Bennet has written about one of his workshops:

“As an organiser of research conferences I am constantly looking for individuals who can do something very special- disseminate a broad field of complexity, in a way that is intelligible to practitioners but loses little in the process; simplification without reductivism. Gianfranco was wonderful in this regard: witty, literate, personable and very, very engaging, but all the while absolutely focussed on content, quality and the effective transmission of useful information and techniques. As such he was one of the most popular speakers of the day, and in my opinion one of the best presenters I have seen in the UK. I wish he was available more often, as the impact he has on his audience is palpable.”

He is well-known internationally for his teaching resources that have won him the TES Best contributor award and have been downloaded over 3,500,000 time by over 100,000 teachers around the world. His blog on MFL pedagogy, The Language Gym, is one of the most influential in the world and has won him several international awards. The professional development group he founded, ‘Global Innovative Language Teachers’ is one of the fastest-growing communities of its genre.


Feedback from teachers on Gianfranco’s courses

Amazing ideas. This will change my way of teaching!

Fascinating and very detailed. I can’t wait to try these out.

Thank you very much. Lots of ideas. I feel very inspired/motivated. So many ideas, I’m buzzing!

Very informative and thought-provoking.

Outstanding. Very enthused and can’t wait to take back to school.

Excellent presentation, which links to real practice and feels feasible in real life! Very much enjoyed the course, thank you!


Cost: £165 per delegate which includes lunch and resources

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