The Neuroscience of Language Learning

International Grammar School (IGS) warmly welcomed leading international languages educator Dr Gianfranco Conti and 27 language teachers from other schools earlier this week.

Dr Conti’s inspiring workshop on the Neuroscience of Language Learning explored student motivation and showcased effective techniques for enhancing foreign language acquisition.

He explained that as students experience success, we build their love of learning a new language, along with their expectations of future success.

The visiting teachers approached the workshop from government, independent and Catholic systems as well as the tertiary sector. They were joined by at least 24 of our own IGS language staff.

Dr Conti is the co-author of the guide for language teachers The Language Teacher Toolkit and is internationally renowned for his award-winning blog, The Language Gym.

Dr Conti discussed the challenges that the finite processing and long-term storage capacity of the human brain and related factors pose for language teachers and learners alike, and strategies for overcoming these challenges.

Based on recent cognitive and second language acquisition research, Dr Conti presented practical ways to maximise teaching and learning time by:

  • embedding Implicit Learning Routines (ILRs)
  • teaching “high-surrender-value functional chunks” instead of single words in isolation
  • adopting a range of “recycling” techniques which maximise uptake of the core elements of the target curriculum, increasing exposure, comprehension and use of the new language.

Participants had the opportunity to engage in practical activities for teaching, and received materials for future reference.

The event reaffirmed the unique IGS identity as a leading languages school, boosting collaboration and inspiring staff in their shared quest for achieving educational excellence.