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Journal Article

From Teaching Points to Learning Opportunities and beyond

Dick Allwright
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 39, No. 1 (Mar., 2005), pp. 9-31
DOI: 10.2307/3588450
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3588450
Page Count: 23
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From Teaching Points to Learning Opportunities and beyond
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Abstract

The teaching point persists, and will no doubt persist further, but this article reviews decades of thinking to challenge it as prime unit of planning for language teaching and proposes instead the learning opportunity as a unit of analysis with major implications for planning. This proposal leads me to advocate practitioner research (specifically Exploratory Practice) as a vehicle for practitioners (teachers and learners) to plan and work together to deepen their understandings of life in the language classroom. Describing first the persistence over recent decades of the teaching point mentality, I then review the major challenges to it over the same period. The most significant comes from 1980s academic classroom research, which casts doubt on the practical value of teaching point-based teaching and presented classroom language learning as inherently idiosyncratic and unpredictable. But it also offered a relatively optimistic view of what learners may get from lessons via the myriad learning opportunities that arise. The notion of the learning opportunity is then presented in its very considerable complexity, not to justify further academic research but instead to justify thinking of what planning might contribute to practitioners' own teaching and learning lives, primarily via planning for understanding.

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