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Vol 34 No 3, July - September 1996 Page 2 PREVIOUS ... CONTENTS ... SEARCH ... NEXT

Clarifying the Concept of Control
by Zuo Biao

In the domain of second language teaching, the word "control" has a somewhat negative implication and often has been associated with classroom activities considered as old-fashioned, teacher-centered or non- communicative. Such phenomena are becoming more and more common: A second language teacher may feel guilty if his/her lessons are described as "controlled". Some teachers who have successfully conducted effective classes with obvious overall maneuvering will strongly disown the label of "control"; other teachers who have taken real measures to loosen control over their classes to the total neglect of the students' participation will happily claim the title of "communicative". Many teachers are confused with the concept and hesitate to act. Some of them attack "control" only verbally while continuing to put it into practice.

Why has so much confusion about "control" appeared? Is there any logical conflict or inherent mutual exclusion between "control" and "communication"? Do activities in the Second Language Teaching (SLT) classroom need to be controlled after all? If so, how and in what aspects should control be exercised? These are the questions which I want to deal with in this paper with the expectation of eliciting more valuable discussions.

Miscomprehension of the concept of "control"

Let us start our discussion with what O'Neill (1991) observed as a "communicative" lesson :

"The teacher begins by giving each member of the class a sheet of paper, at the top of which are directions for discussion. She does not speak while handing the sheets out to the group, and after doing so, she sits down silently and impassively at a slight distance behind the group. There is a period of complete silence while the students study the directions and look up words in their dictionaries."

There is no indication of what to do. There are no follow-up questions. There is no discussion. There is only the same knitting and furrowing of eyebrows, the same repeated interrogation " agree or disagree , the same one word affirmation or negation." (The above-described is half the lesson. The other half is conducted in a similar way, but devoted to listening and pair work.)

Obviously, there is little control over the classroom activities throughout this lesson. O'Neill, as one of the observers, is skeptical about its effectiveness because of its "student-neglect" while the Director of Studies, the other observer, assesses it as "excellent and very student-centered and communicative." The two conflicting evaluations seem to focus on the same point-its lack of control on the part of the teacher, and both relate it to its antithesis-freedom on the part of the students. The difference lies in one viewing it negatively as "student-neglect" and the other, positively as "student- centredness". Let us make no hasty conclusion on the validity of the two evaluations before exploring some essential aspects of the concept of "control" in general.

Control and freedom

"Control and freedom" are two related notions, but they are not necessarily opposites. "Control" can mean the simultaneous gaining and losing of "freedom", the gaining of freedom within a limit and the losing of freedom beyond that limit. The decisive factor which relates one to the other is the dimension of range, which makes both notions relative and not absolute.

We can use the London Underground Ticket Zones as an example. Greater London is divided into 6 zones. If you buy a one-day travel card for Zone 1 (Central London), you have complete freedom to take any buses or trains available to any parts of Central London, but your freedom is limited to that area. You will be fined if you try to travel free beyond Zone 1. The more zones your ticket covers, the more freedom you have, and the broader area of Greater London you can travel within. In a sense, you buy "control", according to your need. Therefore, control means obtaining freedom of a predetermined behavior, i.e. traveling free within the agreed zone, and the loss of freedom for any deviant behavior, e.g. traveling free beyond that zone. Another illustration of the term "control" can be found in industry. When we employ such terms as "quality control" and "remote control" in industrial sectors, we are all using them in a positive sense, as "control" is exactly a guarantee of quality and normal operation of a process. Similarly, in the case of SLT classrooms, proper control means the students gain the freedom to learn the language as they increase their knowledge. Proper control involves restrictions, but it does so only when undesirable behaviors appear.

From the interdependence of "control" and "freedom", we can infer that the distinction or opposition between "teacher-centredness" and "learner-centredness" is inaccurate and misleading, because both labels can mean the two related sides of the same thing: the central role of the teacher in teaching and the central role of the student in learning. The so-called teacher centredness does not necessarily lead to the loss of the learners' focussing on the use of the language in the classroom as on their own initiative. On the contrary, it is precisely the teacher's directing control of the classroom activities that guarantees the full play of the students' potentials and initiative. The teacher can be allowed, as Stevick (1980) suggests, "to keep nearly 100 percent of control while at the same time the learner is exercising nearly 100 percent of the initiative."

Control and communication

As we have clarified the relationship between "control" and "freedom," we can readily reconcile the seeming conflict between "control" and "communication."

The communicative approach in second language teaching emphasises providing more opportunities for the students to learn or acquire the target language by using the language in a linguistic environment which resembles authentic communicative settings. This is by no means an easy job! It is easy for a teacher simply to reduce his/her own talk to provide more opportunities for practice for the students. However, how can we ensure that the opportunities provided by teachers will be willingly accepted and fully used by our students, whose motivations, attitudes and emotions are not easily predicted and whose existing proficiency in the language varies considerably from one to another? Thus to provide relevant and appealing opportunities, to ensure voluntary and fruitful utilization of the opportunities, to create authentic environment-all these meaningful tasks related to communicative teaching- require, all the more, overall control by the teacher who must perceive classroom events, diagnose their meaning accurately and react appropriately.

Apparently, the teacher of the observed lesson (O'Neill) wants to apply the communicative approach to her class. She deliberately conducts her class silently intending to give more time and opportunities to the students to discuss among themselves, and more challenges for the students to use resources from within themselves. There seems to be no question about her aim. Nevertheless, she stops at this point and makes no further attempt to achieve her purpose. She sits back impassively without finding out the students' response and difficulties, nor does she spend the minimum time to give directions understood by all the students. As a result, the opportunity provided by the teacher is barely used by the students; the time saved by the teacher's silence is wasted by the students' knitting and furrowing of eyebrows; the desired communication is stifled by one-word interactions. Thus, the most authentic situation that can be found in the classroom, i.e. the face-to-face teacher-student talk, has been abandoned. None of the important tasks, characteristic of the communicative approach, has been realised in the supposed "communicative lesson", simply because of the lack, or rather, the conscious abandonment of "control" on the part of the teacher.

Experience has shown, according to my observation, that a properly controlled lesson can be very communicative, and a communicative method can fail in an uncontrolled or badly- controlled lesson. "Control" and "communication" are certainly not mutually exclusive.

The necessity and importance of classroom teaching control

Although the necessity and importance of classroom teaching control can be seen from the previous discussion of the two relationships, further discussion can give one a more objective view.

Teaching is a controlled activity. It is controlled in such a way as to avoid randomness, irrationality, and prejudice, and become professional, rational, and humane. It can be so controlled that the teacher even conceals his/ her own personality if circumstances require. The teacher may exercise utmost patience when a slow student makes little or no progress, or may suppress a fit of anger when a trouble-making student causes mischief. S/he must learn to be empathetic, try to coax along students' debates and discussions without letting his/her own ideas influence the outcome. Without the conscious effort of self-control on the part of the teacher, an ideal classroom atmosphere for learning can hardly be created.

Teaching is, moreover, a controlling activity. The teacher exercises control over the classroom environment with the clear and consistent aim of promoting the student's learning. Smith (1969) associated effective teaching with "the control of technical skills of teaching that facilitate pupils' learning." Other educationists, linguists, and teachers have also attached great importance to controlling classroom activities:

"The teacher as manager is a MANIPULATOR of elements in the classroom."

Hudgins, B. B.(1977)

"The teacher MANEUVERS, in a sense, to elicit from the student those behaviours that will lead to the achievement of the educational objectives the teacher has selected."

Joyce, B. R. et al.(1967)

"Adequate MANAGEMENT of the classroom environment also forms a necessary condition for cognitive learning; and if the teacher cannot solve problems in this sphere, we can give the rest of teaching away."

Dunkin, M. J.(1974)

Words like "manage", "manipulate", and "maneuver" used in the above mentioned statements all help to convey the same idea: SLT classroom control is indispensable.

I myself have been teaching for 30 years in institutions ranging from primary school to graduate school with students aged from twelve to fifty-four. Whatever the age or level of my students might be, what has afforded me the greatest pleasure has always been those lessons in which I found the whole class participating with noticeable interest and sustained animation mainly because of my careful planning and operative management. Of course I have also suffered from the painful experience of confronting the students' apathy and confusion due to my lack of preparation and loss of control.

Control is necessary because each lesson is an organised unit of a course, and lack of control may cause a broken link in the curricular chain.

Control is necessary because the successful execution of any classroom activity requires the attention of many interwoven factors: form, order, duration, variety, students' interest, etc. Any neglect of control may result in a disorganised and even chaotic environment in which effective learning cannot possibly take place.

Control is necessary because the teacher has to interact with a group of students who are both quick and slow, active and passive, friendly and hostile, shy and aggressive, serious and mischievous, interested and bored, accepting and doubtful. Any improper treatment may lead to the unfavorable reaction of the students and the breakdown of the teaching sequence.

A teacher may change his or her roles in the classroom and act as an instructor, a trainer, a consultant, a helper, an interlocutor, a participant, and even an onlooker, but s/he must always bear in mind that his/her role as a controller, whether played in an overt or a covert way, remains unchanged.

Functions of classroom teaching control and their manifestations

Whatever activity is to be executed, it must have a goal to attain, a form of organisation to take on, a group of students to participate and a series of actions to carry on. Corresponding to the above aspects of an activity, the teacher's control usually has the following functions.

  • Orienting: Setting teaching goals, making a lesson plan which specifies the objectives of the classroom activities;
  • Organising: Developing a structure or framework with all students involved in the sequence of teaching;
  • Directing and regulating: Giving and executing orders, stimulating the students to undertake classroom activities, getting feedback, making adjustments according to the feedback.


Among various linguistic theories related to SLT methodologies, I want to centre on the dichotomy of learning versus acquisition which influences our discussion of orienting classroom activities. Although the theory remains controversial and unresolved, I would like to base our discussion on the assumption of the possibility of transference between `learning' and `acquisition', for which we can find support from the following statements:

"I suspect that a seepage from what has been `learned' into the `acquisition' store does take place."


"A blending of the two modes of learning (explicit and implicit), interference effects included, is still preferable to the use of only one or the other."


"Learners require opportunities for both form-focused and function-focused practice in the development of particular skill areas and if one or the other is lacking, they do not appear to benefit as such."


Not long ago, just when I was racking my brains over the possibility of learning-acquisition transference, a British lady's casual talk threw light on the puzzling problem.

"Isn't it interesting that the husband (who learned his English in China) teaches English in a British school and speaks such good English, while his wife (who has been living in a British community for a long time after her immigration) can't even say a word?"

This remark shows that the husband's former conscious "learning" in a non- authentic environment can be presumably transferred into "acquisition" (he can even teach native speakers!), and yet spontaneous "acquisition" does not happen to the wife even though she is placed in an authentic environment.

As the possibility of transference between learning and acquisition does exist, SLT classroom activities should be oriented in both directions instead of being exclusively learning- oriented or acquisition-oriented. The two orientations should be combined instead of separated.

With the question of orientation clarified, we can now move ahead to the specification of objectives, i.e. the embodiment of the two orientations in specific classroom activities. Although there can be numerous kinds of activities to be carried out in the classroom, they generally fall into four categories according to classroom size namely, whole class work, group work, pairwork, and individual work. Each category can be both learning-oriented and acquisition-oriented, but it can serve only one of the orientations if the teacher sticks to one particular way of operation.

In order to illustrate the multi-lateral relationship between the two orientations and the four categories of activity, I would like to introduce a model of classroom interaction (see Figure 1 ).

I use a circle again to symbolize the teacher's overall control over classroom interaction and the students' freedom to bring their own initiative into play in the four categories of activity. The abscissa and ordinate indicate the two orientations, "learning" and "acquisition", and their crossing each other represents the link between "learning" and "acquisition", rather than the separation of one from the other. Each of the four categories of activity occupies certain space and can border on both orientations.

When setting goals and specifying objectives, the teacher must consider various factors including class size, learning purposes, social and cultural background and linguistic level of the students. Then s/he must decide whether one of the two orientations should be given preference or both should be incorporated evenly in a particular lesson.


If ORIENTING determines the destination of a journey, ORGANISING materialises the completion of the journey to reach that destination with a step-by-step itinerary. The teacher's control at this level is the most concrete and substantial. The predetermined goal(s) and plan shall be realised by developing a framework of activities involving all the students. A procedure should be worked out so that the teacher has a clear idea about what is to be done, when and how.

As I have mentioned, activities of any category can be directed to both or either of the two orientations. They can be acquisition-oriented as long as they are meaning-focused, task- based, and conducted in more authentic contexts. Contrastively, they can be learning-oriented if they are form-focused, skill-based and performed in less naturalistic situations. Therefore, the teacher can use the same kind of activity but handle it in a different way, directing it towards the orientation s/he wants. Let us take storytelling as an example. If a story, whether true or made-up, is told for reproduction, it is learning- oriented, but if a true story is told for eliciting some spontaneous comments, it is acquisition-oriented. More examples are shown in Diagram 1:





Whole Class

*unprepared talk
*real story telling
*meaningful question
*pre-lesson report
*formal instruction
*story for reproduction
*pseudo question
*drill, dictation

Pair Work

*impromptu role play
*talk about a topic
*question and answer
  with information gap
*prestructured roleplay
*talk about a picture
*question and answer
  without information

Group work

*free debate
*task-based discussion
*pro and con debate

Individual Work

*listening to
  BBC/VOA for
*reading for message
*writing to achieve a
*listening as a skill
*reading as a skill
*writing as a skill

Diagram 1

Another phase which should not be neglected at this stage of control is the organisation of the students. The way of forming pairs and groups, the arrangement of their seats and even the naming of group moderators, etc. can all have an impact on the performance of activities. Let's suppose that the students are roughly of three levels (A, B, and C) with regard to their existing proficiency. Then different patterns of formatting pairs can have different effects (see Diagram 2).





Pattern 1
(AA, BB, CC)

*matching each other
*stimulating interest
*widening the gap
  between A and C

Pattern 2
(AB, BC)

*matching satisfactorily
*promoting co-operation
*motivating both in
  different ways
*possibly retarding
  the progress of A

Pattern 3
(AC, BB)

  *being unbalanced
*killing interest (AC)

Diagram 2

From Diagram 2, we can see that both Pattern one and Pattern two or either of them separately can be used in the classroom. Pattern two of course encourages cooperation. Any omission in organisation will result in the casual formation of Pattern three and lead to the breakdown of an activity by dampening the participants' interest. The same is true with other placement or groupings.

Directing and regulating

The classroom lesson, as Prabhu (1992) asserts, is "indeed a very complex event with several different dimensions to it." He describes it as "a curricular unit, implementation of a method, a social event and an arena of human interaction." If the functions of orienting and organising help to tackle problems related to the curricular and methodological dimensions of a classroom lesson are not available, it is the function of directing and regulating that deals with its social and personal dimensions. I include the two functions under the same heading because they are both concerned with the students' real participation in classroom activities and must be performed in close succession. Giving directions, motivating, getting feedback, remotivating, modifying tasks-the series of actions are closely linked to each other and require quick judgment and instantaneous treatment.

As these dimensions involve so many variables- age, sex, attitude, value, personality, social class, etc .-the control at this stage is characterised by subtlety and flexibility. Slow perception, wrong judgment, or improper handling may lead easily to confusion, loss of interest, and even hostility on the part of the students. The smooth devolvement or unfolding of classroom activities depends greatly on whether or not the teacher can see "symptoms", react quickly, minimize deviant behaviour and establish a good learning climate. S/he must try to involve as many students as possible and facilitate the use of the language as much as possible.

The teacher shows understanding and good judgement by subtle manipulation of classroom events.

Strictness and kindness

Early into my secondary education I noticed an interesting phenomenon: A roaring teacher never managed to change his uproarious classroom while a smiling teacher always succeeded in producing cooperative pupils. Later I myself came to understand that fury is not strictness, neither is kindness indulgence. Strictness can be hidden behind a teacher's kind smiles, while shouts and fierce stares indicate the teacher's inability to control.

Praise and censure

Learning occurs in a pleasant and non-threatening situation. A state of mind such as anxiety, fosters resentment and inhibits effective learning. Marland (1975) suggests, "Make sure that the ratio of praise and censure remains squarely in favour of praise." Nevertheless, praise is not omnipotent and censure should be used when necessary. Excessive praise can cause uneasiness to the praised and constitute an implied criticism to the rest, which can do more harm than good. Censure, even if required, should be given briefly and not in public. The tirade of abuse will certainly create resentment.

Demand and stimulation

The teacher is, no doubt, the most powerful figure in the classroom, but his/her power should not be displayed as ostentatious authority. It is always better to use varied stimuli like humour, suspense, challenge, motion, novelty and so on, rather than rigid command, when s/he tries to involve the students in an activity. Unobtrusive control yields better results.

Modes and extent of control in SLT classroom activities

Little or no control in classroom activities, as we have seen from the lesson O'Neill (1991) observed, tends to result in ineffective learning. On the other hand, control, if exercised improperly, will not bring about effective learning either. The following two real-life lessons serve to illustrate these points. The two lessons in question were of the same type and topic given by two different teachers to parallel classes of first-year English-major students at the university in China where I was working at the time. The lesson type was group discussion. The topic for discussion was Money and Happiness. The two teachers exercising class control of different modes and different extents, produced quite different effects.

Teacher A (TA) was serious-looking and authoritative. He started the lesson by writing down the topic on the blackboard. Then he said that the purpose of the discussion was to find out if there is a connection between money and happiness. He asked the students to think it over and answer the following questions: What is the function of money? Why do people have money? Does money bring about happiness or cause unhappiness? What kind of people gain happiness or suffer sorrow because of money? TA paused a while but no one spoke. Being intolerant of any undisciplined behaviour, he then criticized two students in public, one of whom had turned round and talked to his classmate and the other who looked out of the window in an absentminded manner. The whole class became tense. No one said or attempted to say anything. TA seemed to have anticipated the situation and said, "Attention! Now I'm going to tell you some stories, which will be helpful to you when you think over those questions." He told four stories, each about a particular couple, the first couple being wealthy but unhappy, the second wealthy and happy, the third unwealthy but happy, and the fourth unwealthy and unhappy (each story about one minute in length). The stories were unquestionably interesting and instructive. Most of the students were, or appeared to be, attentive. After that TA divided the class into four groups and asked them to discuss the stories. He added, "Those who have nothing to contribute can just choose one of the stories and retell it." The discussion was not lively. Few students really talked about the topic; some of them expressed their admiration for the second couple and tried to retell the second story. The classroom remained rather quiet. TA walked around, but wherever he went, the low talk changed into silence.

Teacher B (TB) looked enthusiastic, always having a gentle smile on her face. She started the lesson in a different way. "Everybody has money and uses money, whether much or little, but different people get and spend their money in quite different ways. Does money always bring happiness? Today we'll discuss the topic `Money and Happiness' (which she wrote down on the blackboard). I believe that all of you will have a lot to say about it. When you discuss the topic, you may use as examples whatever you have heard or experienced yourselves. You can also use the words which I'm going to write on the board if you feel like it." Then she wrote under "Money" such words as earn, save, accumulate, donate, lend, invest, steal, rob, swindle, display,squander and gamble , and under "happiness/unhappiness" words like ease , comfort, delicacy, jewelry, villa, travel, quarrel, divorce, crime, murder,imprisonment , and regret . While watching the teacher write, some students were nodding, smiling, and murmuring to one another, and others, pondering, writing, and asking each other questions. Spontaneous discussion had already begun. The teacher did not ask for attention, but walked around, answering some questions. After a while, she opened the group discussion. Almost in no time four groups formed. The discussion was lively and went on superbly. The students vied with each other to make contributions, some telling their own stories and others making comments. TB moved from group to group, putting in a word or two, but mainly encouraging the shy students to speak and giving individual help to the slower students. When she noticed a boy playing with his pen on the desk and making noise, she just smiled and shook her head at him briefly and passed by. Gradually discussion turned into argument. In one group, one side held that money is an Angel who brings happiness and the other side argued that money is the Devil who stirs up trouble and incites crime. Different opinions were expressed in other groups, too. Seeing that some students were getting excited and the classroom was becoming too noisy, the teacher had two groups move into another room.

Obviously TA was a control-conscious teacher and had prepared the lesson earnestly, yet his lesson was somewhat oppressive. Not considering other factors of teaching and learning, his classroom teaching control found expression in three aspects. Firstly, his control was obtrusive and authoritarian, thus suppressing the lively atmosphere characteristic of discussion. Secondly, his control regarding the discussion was too specific and detailed, and thus the students' creativity and initiative could hardly be brought into full play. He took on what should have been done by the students, and his stories, though well- prepared and interesting, deprived the students of the motivation to think of and tell their own stories. Lastly, discipline was public and indiscriminate, not taking into account behaviour, personality, and ability of the students. His open criticism created a threatening environment which inhibited learning.

In contrast, TB was aware of not only the necessity of control, but also of the art of employing control in the proper mode and to the proper extent over this particular activity-group discussion. She exercised classroom teaching control which was more humane and supportive in creating a light and relaxed atmosphere, leaving room for students to deal with the task at hand. She encouraged participation and maintained discipline by her unobtrusive manner, her brief introduction, her unexplained words on the board, her one-or-two-words of advice and her warning smile at deviant behaviour-all these seemed so casual and natural, and yet reflected her deliberate and tactful use of classroom teaching control which contributed to the successful unfolding of her lesson.

Of course. TB's style of control cannot be appropriate in all situations. Control should not be stereotyped. It must be adjusted according to the lesson type and the task of a particular activity. Bossert (1979) says, "The task structure influences the degree to which teacher and pupil behaviour is public and activities depend on teacher control, and hence it creates differing control demands of the teacher." Usually the control over class work can be more authoritarian, specific and public as the same task for the whole class requires unified attention and action. Control over group, pair or individual work should be more humane, general, and individualised so that spontaneity and creativity can encourage the students' initiative. In order to achieve appropriate control in classroom activities, the teacher must also take into account other variables such as the students' age, knowledge, style of learning, cultural background, and the classroom atmosphere.

I have repeatedly used the word "proper" in the previous parts of the article to refer to the mode and extent of control to be exercised in SLT classroom activities. Nevertheless, the notion is fuzzy, as there is no clear-cut demarcation between "properness" and "improperness". It depends on the teacher's perception and experience to discern the delicate distinction between them just as people deal with the fuzziness of the perception between "old" and "young", "large" and "small", "tall" and "short", etc.

The three circles (see Fig. 1) which I used to describe the relationship between "control" and "freedom" show that the smaller the boundary of control, the less freedom there is. We can thus deduce that in the classroom situation, the more specific the control over an activity, the less freedom for the students. Conversely, the more general the control, the more freedom can be afforded. Again, the notion of "range" is the key factor.

In daily life, neither "too much control" nor "too little control" can bring about the achievement of a particular purpose. A prisoner limited to a small cell, cannot achieve anything notable, while a tramp, whose boundaries are enlarged to the world, cannot achieve anything either. Only a person engaged in a particular circle of activity can really make some achievements.

The same is true of classroom activities. The two tendencies are, on the one hand, either excessive and obtrusive control exercised over each specific item of language practice, or, on the other, insufficient or loss of control over the general classroom environment. In neither of the situations can effective learning or acquisition really take place.

Let me finish this part with what Joyce (1967) assumes, "The wider the range of teaching maneuvers, the better the teacher's chance of bringing about more kinds of desirable learning from large numbers of students."


The paper has argued that the current confusion about the SLT classroom control is due to a miscomprehension of the concept of "control" and its relationship to "freedom" and "communication". Clarifying the concept and emphasizing the degree of its importance, function, mode and extent in a particular situation might help to improve the classroom environment and facilitate learning.

Some relevant questions concerning second language learning and teaching have also been discussed. This paper queries the validity of the distinction between teacher-centredness and learner-centredness and points out the non-interferent nature of the teacher's central role in teaching with regard to its relationship with the students' initiative in learning. It asserts the possibility of transference between `"learning"' and "acquisition" and suggests that proper management of both learning-oriented and acquisition-oriented classroom activities could facilitate second language learning.


Teaching and learning are closely related, but their relationship is not one of causality. Teaching, even though properly controlled and well-conducted, does not necessarily result in learning, but learning can occur without teaching. I do not mean that the whole discussion about "control," turns out to be worthless. On the contrary, my warning serves two purposes. First, if a teacher makes an effort to exercise some well-considered control over teaching activities but finds little or no effect, he should not lose confidence by merely attributing the failure to his control or lack of it, as it might be due to other factors. Secondly, although the relationship of causality does not necessarily exist between teaching and learning we can say teaching does cause learning in most cases and to a great extent. The teacher can heighten the likelihood of facilitating learning by seeking the properness of control.

Zuo Biao is an associate professor of English, chairman of the Center of Language and Culture, vice dean of the Foreign Language Department, and supervisor of the postgraduate program in English-Chinese translation at Shanghai Maritime University, China.



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Starting with the confusion about the use of control over classroom activities in second language teaching, this article clarifies the concept of "control" and its relationship with the communicative approach in second language teaching. While emphasizing the importance, functions, modes, and proper extent of classroom control, the article touches upon some major questions concerning second language learning and teaching. The author argues that the distinction between teacher-centredness and learner-centredness is misleading, as the central role of the teacher in teaching does not interfere with the central role of the learner in learning. The author claims the possibility of transference between "learning" and "acquisition", and he affirms and provides examples to show that the classroom activities can be both learning-oriented and acquisition-oriented. Finally the article points out that although causality does not necessarily exist between teaching and learning, the likelihood of facilitating learning can be heightened by the teacher exercising proper control over definitely-oriented, well-organised, effectively- directed and flexibly- regulated classroom activities.

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