Curriculum Design and Lesson Planning in MFL

This CPD course for MFL teachers will provide delegates with a detailed reference framework for curriculum design, based on cognitive and second language acquisition theory and research.

DATE CHANGE: This is a one day course running online on Monday 27th June, sessions will be 9.45am to 12.45pm & 1.30pm to 4.00pm.

Delegates will consider:

  • The key components of curriculum design;
  • The principles underpinning effective short- / medium- and long-term planning;
  • The procedures involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of a course;
  • Acquisition-enhancing strategies (e.g. recycling, interleaving, universals, fluency training) and their application to curriculum design;
  • The role of assessment as a means to advance learning and how to embed it in the curriculum.

Session 1: A principled framework for curriculum design

This session will:

  • Provide an account of the key components of curriculum design (from goal-setting to course-evaluation) and a principled framework for medium- and long-term planning;
  • Raise the delegates’ awareness of the challenges surrounding effective curriculum design and implementation and provide solutions to address them;
  • Propose a communicative-function-based approach to curriculum design.

Session 2: Applying language Acquisition Principles and memory-enhancing strategies to curriculum design

This session will:

  • Lay out the key tenets of instructed language acquisition;
  • Suggest ways in which the above can be applied in short- / medium- and long-term planning;
  • Explain the role of fluency training and how it can be embedded in the curriculum.

Session 3: Designing pedagogy cycles and progression units and using assessment to enhance learning.

This session will:

  • Provide a principled approach to the design of pedagogic cycles and units of progression;
  • Suggest assessment procedures designed to advance learning not merely to evaluate it.

Presenter Profile

Founder, owner and CEO of the leading language learning website The Language Gym, Gianfranco Conti is an applied linguistics MA and PhD graduate with many years of classroom experience. He has taught Modern Languages for nearly 30 years both at primary, secondary and university levels.

He has researched the impact of metacognitive strategies training and error correction on L2 essay writing under the supervision of Oxford University Professor Ernesto Macaro both during his PhD and a large-scale project in English comprehensive schools documented in Professor Macaro's 2001 book. In his current role as Visiting Fellow at the University of Reading, he has lexicogrammar acquisition, listening instruction, metacognition, error correction and learner autonomy as his main research interests.

Formerly head of languages at various schools in England and abroad where he has developed and implemented his instructional approach (Extensive Processing Instruction), he is currently a renowned and highly sought-after conference speaker and CPD provider very active in the UK, South-East Asia, Middle East and Australia. He delivers keynotes in major international events all year around, conducts more than a hundred workshops for language teachers a year and visits many schools in the same period of time either to provide professional development or to help them improve their curriculum design and delivery.

His mission is to make current Cognitive Science and Applied Linguistics research available to the busy classroom practitioner and to translate it in implementable and impactful instructional strategies which make languages accessible for all.

He is well-known internationally for his teaching resources that have won him the TES Best contributor award and have been downloaded over 4,500,000 times by over 100,000 teachers around the world.

He runs a very influential blog on MFL pedagogy, The Language Gym (, which has won him several international awards. The professional development group he founded on Facebook, ‘Global Innovative Language Teachers’ (aka GILT) is one of the largest and fastest-growing communities of its genre.

Gianfranco is also a prolific book writer. In the last five years he has co-authored with Steve Smith the best-selling handbooks for MFL professionals, ‘The Language Teacher Toolkit’, ‘Breaking the sound barrier: teaching learners how to listen’ and 'Memory: what every language teacher should know. His most popular book, "Breaking the sound barrier", lays out the principles of the language teaching method he has created, E.P.I. (aka: Extensive Processing Instruction), a usage-based approach which has been adopted by thousands of language educators worldwide.

He has also published the best-selling Sentence builders series of workbooks aimed at classroom and independent learning for beginner to intermediate learners of Spanish, French, German and Italian, based on 'EPI', written with his former colleague Dylan Viñales, which is being currently adapted to Irish, Welsh, Dutch and other languages. He is also currently working on a series of revision books aimed at GCSE Modern Language learners, two of which have already been published, whilst German and Italian are still in the works.

His Twitter handle is @gianfrancocont9

Feedback from teachers on Gianfranco's courses

Putting Gianfranco's MARS EARS sequence in place has meant:

  • Full engagement from students of all abilities
  • Much better progression within the lesson and from one lesson to another
  • Increased participation in class
  • Increased confidence
  • Better use of the language
  • Increased accuracy
  • Better grasp of the grammar when seen more “formally” in the EARS part of the sequence
  • Less anxiety for students who might not see Languages as an easy subject

(Aurélie Lethuilier, Curriculum leader, Hillview School, Tonbridge, Kent)

Just wanted to let you know that year 8 (who have only ever been taught MFL using your methods) have just done their options and 75% have chosen an MFL. This is in contrast to current y11 which is around 15% doing an MFL - thank you for giving me the courage to push for the change in curriculum - I am so happy and thankful.
(Vicki Brownlee, Head of MFL, The Howden School)

I cannot recommend taking on the journey to 'Contification' highly enough, and here are some of the considerations that we are keeping in mind at this time: we have seen a tremendous change in our students’ engagement and participation rates in class. We are regularly receiving very positive feedback from students and parents about what is happening in our classes, which is wonderfully affirming. Our purpose was to empower our students and to give justice to their potential as future language speakers, which required a huge change embraced by all parties. ..this sure does feel like we have contributed to something much bigger than us in this journey of exploration and discovery. When one lets go of the need to be perfect, magic happens.
(Chloe Briand, Head of MFL, Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne)

I was at one of your live training sessions in Guildford in 2019. Since I started using your methods, uptake of Spanish GCSE has doubled, so thank you.
(Penny Riddell, Spanish teacher, UK)

I am very proud to see you standing up for real language teaching as it should be, and grateful that the presentation I witnessed was 1)grounded in real research and hard facts related to language acquisition. 2) refreshingly honest and unashamed to present these facts with no ulterior motives but to share one’s passion for teaching languages and learning languages.
(Adam Joe Fletcher, Deputy Head MFL, London)

Cost: £185 per delegate

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