There are three ways to view the relationship between traditional (“mechanistic”) and innovative (“holistic”) second language teaching and learning: as nearing towards a paradigm shift, as an existing dialectic tension between two competing paradigms, or as a state of “paradigm paralysis”. Paradigm is an overall concept accepted by a community of researchers or specialists as the main guiding principle in their endeavour. The mechanistic paradigm of second language learning regards the language acquisition process as that of conscious artificial construction of language knowledge in a learner’s mind. The persistent and widespread failure of traditional second language instruction to produce fluent speakers might be attributed not only to the faults on the part of learners or teachers but also to the underlying paradigm of teaching. Is second language teaching moving towards the paradigm shift in the Kuhnian sense or are the two paradigms co-existing side by side generating fruitful discussion? Is “paradigm paralysis”, i.e. entrenchment of both sides in rigid and inflexible opposition, also a reality in the field of language teaching? Our evolving understanding of language and learning urges us to compare mechanistic and holistic approaches, develop new perspectives and make informed decisions.