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Original Articles

Learners’ Multimodal Displays of Willingness to Participate in Classroom Interaction in the L2 and CLIL Contexts

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Pages 71-94 | Published online: 06 Jan 2017


Drawing on recent conversation-analytic and socio-interactionist research on students’ participation in L1 and L2 classroom interaction in teacher-fronted activities, this paper makes a step further by presenting an exploratory study of students’ displays of willingness to participate (WTP) in classroom interaction and pedagogical activities across two educational and classroom settings (L2 classroom group work and CLIL classroom whole-class activity), both of which are characterized by the absence of teachers’ next-speaker selection practices. The study focuses on occasions where students self-select to provide a sequentially relevant second pair-part within the current activity and how it is oriented to by co-participants, particularly when the expected action is not accomplished. Using a multimodal conversation analytic approach, it shows that students’ WTP is indexed as a social, public demonstration of one’s interest to engage in the ongoing activity through displays of attentiveness to unfolding interaction and learning activities, emerging turn-taking and speakership establishment, engaging in foci of attention and participation frameworks, and taking on relevant participant roles. These findings indicate that WTP is not an absolute and fixed concept but is rather constituted by different aspects or levels of engagement displayed by the participants in interaction on a moment-by-moment basis.


The authors would like to express their gratitude to Tom Morton and Virginie Fasel Lauzon and the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments to previous drafts of this article which helped to improve it considerably. All remaining errors and omissions are entirely our responsibility.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Notes on contributors

Natalia Evnitskaya received her PhD in Language and Literature Teaching from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2012. She is a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of English Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Her research interests include teaching and learning in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) contexts, classroom interaction, L2 learner interactional competence, embodied conduct, facework in CLIL peer interaction, and EFL and CLIL teacher education. She published her work in Language and Education and Language Learning Journal and co-authored two book chapters (Multilingual Matters and John Benjamins).

Evelyne Berger is a visiting Post-Doc at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Geneva (Switzerland). She obtained her PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Neuchâtel in 2010. Currently, she works in a third-party funded project on grammatical practices for structuring storytelling activities in institutional settings. Her research interests also include turn-taking practices, repair organisation, embodied conduct, second language talk, L2 interactional competence and classroom interaction. She published her work, amongst others, in Journal of Pragmatics and Linguistics and Education.


1. To the contrary of what has been documented in the literature on whole-class interaction (see e.g. McHoul Citation1978).

2. The analysis of Excerpt 1 has been previously published with a different purpose in Pochon-Berger (Citation2009) which aimed at showing how participation patterns found in group-work interactions are shaped by students’ understanding of task instructions.

3. TRPs are slots where speaker change is organized. TRPs most often correspond to points within the unfolding interaction where the current speaker’s contribution can be understood as complete on the syntactic, prosodic and pragmatic level.

4. Although Bezemer (Citation2008, 168) suggests that when ‘a participant is actually closely monitoring the interaction from which he or she has, ostensibly, withdrawn’ should be considered a display of disengagement, we will show that Michelle’s physical withdrawal from the interactional space in line 4 cannot be viewed as disengagement from the pedagogical activity in course.

5. But see Kääntä (Citation2012) for a detailed analysis of an alternative next action made conditionally and sequentially relevant upon teacher initiating turn and prior to student response, namely student bidding for a turn. The latter, however, ‘makes a teacher turn-allocation also a conditionally relevant next action without which the instruction [i.e. the R and E constituents of the IRE sequence] cannot proceed in teacher-led classroom activities’ (172).

6. Unfortunately, Arnau’s location was out of the camera view which made it impossible to include his embodied actions in the transcript. This is why the analysis only refers to his verbal conduct.

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