Everything a teacher should know about language teaching and learning: the A to Z of evidenced-based pedagogy

This course looks at the key principles of effective teaching and learning in languages, as evidenced by the latest cognitive research in second language acquisition. The main focus of the day will be:

  • How memory works and implications for teaching and learning. We will focus on the structure of memory and explore the implications that Working and Long-Term memory has for learning.
  • How languages are learnt: the role of comprehensible input, noticing and restructuring. The role of input in bringing about acquisition in both natural and instructed language acquisition. How language learners process language receptively and what facilitates / hinders acquisition.
  • The principles of effective modelling through aural and written input: You will consider how you may want to design and deliver input to best impact students' learning.
  • From input to output : instructional strategies for converting input into output will be proposed.
  • Chunking : you will explore chunking from three different angles: (1) as the way the brain acquires new language; (2) as an instructional strategy aimed at facilitating the onset of fluency and (3) as a learning strategy.
  • From controlled processing to fluency: You will define the notion of fluency and lay out a principled approach to its attainment rooted in Cognitive research, identifying the barriers to and the catalysts of effortless understanding and production under communicative pressure.
  • Sequencing tasks : We will discuss a pedagogical cycle based on cognitive load theory and Gianfranco Conti's approach, E.P.I.
  • Corrective feedback and Metacognition: You will explore evidence-based approaches to corrective feedback which make the process more manageable and impactful. We will also discuss how metacognitive instruction can enhance learners' autonomy and responsibility.
  • Assessment : This session will concisely discuss the role of assessment in advancing learning, outlining the merits and shortcomings of common testing procedures. An alternative more student- and teacher-friendly approach to assessment will be proposed which is more consistent with second-language-acquisition theory and research.

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 (gianfrancoconti.com), 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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