What does it take to move the teaching of second language (L2) listening forward? That is the central question addressed in this one-day workshop that aims to bring together educational practitioners and researchers interested in L2 listening.


Understanding spoken language is an essential part of linguistic competence. Learning to understand L2 speech is thus vital for successful L2 acquisition. In current L2 teaching practice, L2 speech comprehension does not yet receive the attention it deserves. Here lies a challenge, for educational practitioners as well as researchers.

Work on listening skills is in many curricula restricted to giving the learner comprehension tests—often last year’s exams. Practice thus consists of answering comprehension questions, without training of listening sub-skills or strategies, or attention to the cognitive processes underlying listening. As John Field put it in his seminal work Listening in the Language Classroom (2009), this provides learners with L2 listening practice but does not teach them the skill.

Part of the reason might be that we do not know enough about the teachability and learnability of the relevant sub-skills and the cognitive processes underlying L2 listening. While research has made great advances in our understanding of L2 speech perception, it is often unclear to what extent findings from the lab translate to language learning in the wild. For example, can segmentation of continuous speech improve through instruction? Can phonetic training cause a change in sound representations that is generalizable and usable outside the lab?

In order to start answering some of these questions, the transmission of information between educational practitioners and researchers seems essential.

To what end?

In this workshop, we aim to bring together people with different backgrounds who are interested in an exploration of the question: what does it take to move teaching L2 listening forward? This should lead to interesting discussions and—who knows—maybe to great new insights and inspiration.


  • Presentations
  • Interactive ways of working
  • Plenty of room for discussion
  • Keynote speech by John Field, University of Bedfordshire


Educational practitioners, for example:

  • Teachers
  • Teacher trainers
  • Developers and publishers of teaching and testing materials

Researchers, for example:

  • Psycholinguists
  • Phoneticians
  • Educational scientists

When and where?

This workshop takes place on May 27th, 2020, at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. It precedes ISBPAC 2020, which takes place on May 28th-29th, 2020 at the same venue. You can choose to register for one or both events.


We invite the submission of abstracts that address issues related to the teaching of L2 listening, including but not limited to the following:

  • Teachability of listening sub-skills
  • Teaching of listening strategies
  • Use of natural, varied speech materials
  • Knowledge gaps: What questions should researchers investigate to help the educational field? What can educational practitioners do to help research?

Please submit your abstract as explained on the ISBPAC 2020 abstract submission page.