Not the snappiest title for a blog post, but I wanted to share with teachers a significant aspect of second language teaching and learning research, one which is very relevant to your day to day practice. The chances are you are working with a synthetic syllabus and were taught using one. Researchers will tell you that there are some compelling reasons not to. So what is it? The term was coined by David Wilkins (actually a former lecturer of mine at the University of Reading in England). Wilkins (1974, 1976) divided syllabuses into two types, synthetic and analytic . Although, as has been pointed out by Long and Crookes (1991), these are really two points on a continuum rather than a strict dichotomy. So a syllabus can more or less synthetic or more or less analytic. Synthetic syllabuses break down the target language into discrete items for presentation one at a time, step by step. The gradual accumulation of these bits aims to build up a learner's proficiency with the language.