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This book defines engagement for the field of language learning and contextualizes it within existing work on the psychology of language learning and teaching. Chapters address broad substantive questions concerned with what engagement is or looks like, and how it can be theorized for the language classroom; methodological questions related to the design, measurement and analysis of engagement in language classrooms and beyond; as well as applied issues examining its antecedents, factors inhibiting and enhancing it, and conditions fostering the reengagement of language learners who have become disengaged. Through a mix of conceptual and empirical chapters, the book explores similarities and differences between motivation and engagement and addresses questions of whether, how and why learners actually do exert effort, allocate attention, participate and become involved in tangible language learning and use. It will serve as an authoritative benchmark for future theoretical and empirical research into engagement within the classroom and beyond, and will be of interest to anyone wishing to understand the unique insights and contributions the topic of engagement can make to language learning and teaching.
Student Engagement in the Language Classroom
Editors: Phil Hiver, Ali H. Al-Hoorie, and Sarah Mercer
Cite as:
Hiver, P., Al-Hoorie, A. H., & Mercer, S. (Eds.). (2021). Student engagement in the
language classroom. Multilingual Matters.
Table of Contents
Richard M. Ryan
1. Introduction
Phil Hiver, Sarah Mercer, & Ali Al-Hoorie
Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
2. Engagement and Companion Constructs in Language Learning: Conceptualizing Learners’
Involvement in the L2 Classroom
Yuan Sang and Phil Hiver
3. Engagement With Language (EWL) in Relation to Form-Focused Versus Meaning-Focused
Teaching and Learning
Agneta M.L. Svalberg
4. Research on Learner Engagement with Written (Corrective) Feedback: Insights and Issues
Ye Han and Xuesong (Andy) Gao
5. Measuring L2 Engagement: A Review of Issues and Applications
Shiyao (Ashlee) Zhou, Phil Hiver, and Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Part II: Empirical Studies
6. Exploring Connections between Classroom Environment and Engagement in the Foreign
Language Classroom
Giulia Sulis and Jenefer Philp
7. Examining Learner Engagement in Relationship to Learning and Communication Mode
Carly Henderson, Daniel Jung, and Laura Gurzynski-Weiss
8. Fake or Real Engagement Looks can be Deceiving
Sarah Mercer, Kyle Talbot, and Isobel Kai-Hui Wang
9. The Effect of Choice on Affective Engagement: Implications for Task Design
Linh Phung, Sachiko Nakamura, and Hayo Reinders
10. How Ideal Classmates Priming Increases EFL Classroom Prosocial Engagement
Tetsuya Fukuda, Yoshifumi Fukada, Joseph Falout, and Tim Murphey
11. Engagement and Immersion in Virtual Reality Narratives
Nicole Mills
12. Engagement Growth in Language Learning Classrooms: A Latent Growth Analysis of
Engagement in Japanese Elementary Schools
W. L. Quint Oga-Baldwin and Luke K. Fryer
13. Modeling the Relations Between Foreign Language Engagement, Emotions, Grit, and
Reading Achievement
Gholam Hassan Khajavy
14. Conceptualizing Willingness to Engage in L2 Learning beyond the Classroom
Isobel Kai-Hui Wang and Sarah Mercer
15. Engagement: The Active Verb Between the Curriculum and Learning
Phil Hiver, Sarah Mercer, and Ali Al-Hoorie
External Reviewers
Scott Aubrey
Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
Ali Dincer
Erzincan Binali Yildirim University, Turkey
Alastair Henry
University West, Sweden
Tae-Young Kim
Chung-Ang University, South Korea
Christine Muir
University of Nottingham, England
Richard Pinner
Sophia University, Japan
Mostafa Papi
Florida State University, USA
Masatoshi Sato
Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile
Alyssa Vuono
Florida State University, USA
People are inherently social creatures, and in order to connect and regulate their social
interactions, they must internalize their cultures. But cultures cannot be internalized without
language. Indeed, language is the vehicle through which we learn about our social world,
discover its rules and values, and express our personal natures, allowing us to connect with
others, both in relationships of exchange and of caring.
Cultures themselves interact. As far back as the origins of human history, groups of
individuals sharing a common culture and language made contact with other groups, each unified
by their own shared tongue. Of great value was anyone who could ably facilitate those intergroup
contactsthose people who were multilingual.
Today we humans exist in a globally interconnected world. We can transact with people
from anywhere in seconds through the internet, or visit them through rapid means of travel, and
in doing so experience a bit of their cultures. But others’ cultures and experiences can only be
deeply experienced when we share in the ways in which those others express themselves and
connect with each otherwhen we can hear and speak with them in their own expressive forms.
Being able to speak another’s language is thus not just beneficial practically, for sharing
knowledge or making economic transactions; it’s also a gift of connectedness.
As useful and meaningful as sharing a language is, learning a second language is not
easy. Although we have seemingly natural tools for learning languages during early
development, adding new languages into our repertoire later comes only with work and effort.
Nonetheless, it is not that uncommon. Approximately half of the world’s population is bilingual,
although many acquire those skills early on through exposure within their homes and families.
Approximately 13% of people worldwide are also multilingual or polyglots, so clearly many
people are motivated to learn others’ tongues and those that do have richer lives indeed.
Because most of us do not have opportunity to pick up another language in our homes
and early environments, in modern times the major way of acquiring this special gift is in
classroom settings. That is, we tend to learn languages in formal school contexts, often with a
classic format of a teacher who transmits this knowledge using the standard tools of educators
pedagogically determined instruction, textbooks, assignments, performances, tests, and grades.
This is in so many ways particularly unfortunate, because, sadly, schools are not always the most
intrinsically motivating or engaging of environments. They tend to be characterized by social
comparisons, extrinsic motivational strategies, winners and losers, with the resulting feelings of
alienation, incompetence and failure for so many. My colleagues and I in self-determination
theory have often bemoaned how the strategies applied to “make” students learn are so often
inadequate or even toxic in engendering engagement and satisfaction.
This is where this important volume comes into play. It concerns the why’s and the how’s
of people acquiring a second language, and more specifically how we can make that engaging.
Engagement is in fact the primary focus of all the papers included here. Important is that
engagement is not treated herein simplistically, but rather in all its facets. Authors recognize that
true engagement requires that the learner at least to some extent finds the process of learning a
language intrinsically motivatinglearners need to experience some joys and satisfactions in the
activity itself. But it also means finding utility, purpose, and meaning in the learning process.
That sense of utility and purpose, of having a larger goal beyond just interest and enjoyment, is
critical especially when it comes to the difficult part of learning languages, which are manifold.
So, cultivating both intrinsic motivation and an autonomous or volitional extrinsic motivation is
essential in catalyzing the attentiveness and disciplined actions entailed in truly engaged
language learning. The editors and authors in this work also recognize that for language teachers
inspiring such motivation is an especially complex and formidable task. This is because, for
many students, a new language comes only with difficultyit is truly foreign to them.
Chapters in this volume provide a treasure chest of resources for teachers and researchers
who want to more deeply craft strategies for engagement. Indeed, they cover engagement in all
its complexity. Chapters herein help define engagement, (chapters by Sang & Hiver; Svalberg)
and understand how we measure and evaluate it (Zhou, Hiver, & Al-Hoorie). They address how
feedback impacts leaners (Han & Gao) and the kinds of classrooms, and tasks and strategies that
spawn or hinder engagement (Henderson, Jung, & Gurzynski-Weiss; Phung, Nakamura, &
Reinders) and positive emotional experiences (Khajavy). They describe the impact of modern
tools and technologies used to facilitate learning (Mills). They also look at the experience of
engagement from the eyes of learners (Mercer, Talbot, & Wang), including the relationships
between students and their teachers and peers which strongly impact engagement (Fukuda,
Fukada, Falout, & Murphey; Sulis & Philp). They address the nuances associated with learning
at different stages of development (Oga-Baldwin & Fryer). Together they all help to understand
how teachers can cultivate that true willingness to engage (Wang & Mercer) that is requisite to
successfully mastering an additional language.
Speaking personally, it is only recently that I have come to be a student of engagement in
the domain of language learning. As a long-time scholar in the field of motivation, however, I
have been inspired by what I see emerging in this complex area of scholarship and practice. I
thus found myself absorbed and engaged by these contributions. But more than such intrinsic
motivation, I also felt a larger purpose here, one conveyed by a number of these authors. Yes,
our world is shrinking in so many waysbecoming a global economy with increasing
homogeneities and occupied with shared concerns, from pandemics to poverty to global
warming. But, if there was ever a time for us to be investing in sharing and communicating it is
now. If there was ever a time to enhance our students’ engagement with what is “foreign” to
them, it is now. If there was ever a time to help people connect across human communities, it is
now. As it has always been across history, language is the vehicle through which that is
accomplished. I thus applaud this volume and the tasks undertaken by each of these author
teams, which are all aimed at enhancing classroom engagement in L2 classrooms around the
world. Our students need it, our schools need it, and more importantly our world needs it.
Richard M. Ryan
North Sydney, NSW, Australia
Chapter 2
Engagement and companion constructs in language learning: Conceptualizing learners’
involvement in the L2 classroom
Yuan Sang and Phil Hiver
Researchers in the field of second and foreign language (L2) education have an abiding concern
with the ways and means by which learners actively devote effort and attention to L2 learning.
This is because learners’ interest and desire to engage with learning opportunities, and
expenditure of effort while learning, are crucial conditions for L2 development. In addition to the
constructs of motivation and interest, two concepts that provide a framework for conceptualizing
L2 learners’ meaningful involvement and expenditure of effort, as a corollary to such deliberate
attention and active participation, are engagement and investment. On one hand, rooted in
educational psychology, engagement refers to “a state of heightened attention and involvement,
in which participation is reflected” in cognitive, social, behavioral, and affective dimensions
(Philp & Duchesne, 2016, p. 3). On the other hand, investment is grounded in poststructuralist
social theories and the accompanying perspectives of language and identity. Though also
conceptualizing learners’ expenditure of effort and discussing concepts such as interest and
motivation, investment emphasizes the intertwined “relationship between language learner
identity and language learning commitment” (Norton, 2012, p. 343). The goals of this chapter are
to provide a comparative review of the constructs of engagement and investment, with their
connections to interest and motivation, and highlight their uniquenesses and commonalities.
Chapter 3
Engagement with language (EWL) in relation to form-focused versus meaning-focused
teaching and learning
Agneta M. L. Svalberg
This chapter discusses what we can learn from the general grammar teaching literature and from
a series of empirical studies (Svalberg 2012, 2014, 2015; Svalberg and Askham 2015, 2020)
about what may inhibit or enhance learners’ Engagement With Language (EWL).
While EWL is deemed to be effective in helping learners construct explicit knowledge about
language (Language Awareness), at the same time, affordances for using the language in
meaningful interaction are widely recognized as essential. The former directs learners’ attention
towards form, while the latter encourages a meaning focus. There seems to be a certain degree of
tension between the two and teachers may wonder how to reconcile them. The chapter draws on
a project in which teachers of a number of foreign languages were familiarized with a particular,
task based approach combining a form focus with focus-on-meaning. The teachers designed their
own tasks and implemented them in their classrooms (Svalberg and Askham, 2020).
Summing up, the chapter outlines principles and suggestions for tasks likely to provide both
affordances for high quality engagement with language, and opportunities to use newly
constructed LA in communicative interaction.
Chapter 4
Research on learner engagement with written (corrective) feedback: Insights and issues
Ye Han and Xuesong (Andy) Gao
Second language learners’ engagement with written feedback, especially written corrective
feedback, has recently drawn increasing attention in research. The bulk of research has been
informed by previous research on student engagement, oral feedback, and second language
writing pedagogy. These studies highlight the centrality of engagement in second language
learning and reveal the complex, contextualized, and dynamic characteristics of engagement.
However, due to the highly similar research design and research context, these studies have
generated repetitive findings, leaving a few important issues under-explored. This chapter
provides a critical overview of relevant research on learner engagement with written (corrective)
feedback by (a) sorting out the theoretical perspectives and prior studies that informed relevant
research endeavors, (b) synthesizing meaningful findings and insights from these studies, (c)
problematizing recent research on student engagement with feedback, and (d) proposing possible
solutions for future research. We argue that, to push the boundaries further, more
methodologically innovative studies should be conducted over a longer time span to explore
individual learners’ engagement with feedback and its complexity.
Chapter 5
Measuring L2 engagement: A review of issues and applications
Shiyao (Ashlee) Zhou, Phil Hiver, and Ali H. Al-Hoorie
In this chapter our objective is to explore the past, present, and future of measuring the construct
of engagement. We first introduce some of the more prominent approaches to measuring student
engagement from general education, including student self-report, experience sampling, teacher
ratings of students, interviews, and observations. We describe how each approach has been
applied to measuring engagement, touch on issues of validity and reliability, and discuss the
strengths and weakness of each measurement approach for L2 researchers. Following this, we
examine several widely used self-report measures in student engagement research with reference
to operational definitions of engagement, use, samples, and psychometric information. We
elaborate on dilemmas related to the measurement of engagement in L2 learning, such as the
differentiation of L2 engagement and related constructs (e.g., interest, motivation), the variety of
purposes for measuring L2 engagement (e.g., theory-testing vs. links to interventions), and
measuring general L2 engagement vs. L2 engagement in specific domains (e.g., task- and skill-
specific engagement). Finally, we summarize the limitations of currently available instruments
for eliciting engagement data and discuss directions for future development in the field.
Chapter 6
Exploring connections between classroom environment and engagement in the foreign
language classroom
Giulia Sulis and Jenefer Philp
This study seeks to explore the connections between classroom environment and engagement in
two L2 French University classrooms at beginner and advanced level. While classroom
environment, (social and academic), is a key element of learning, it is not often paired in
conjunction with engagement. To some degree this has been due to a lack of a clear
operationalisation of the construct “classroom environment”.
This study draws on “environmental complexity”, that is, a conceptual model of the learning
environment developed by Shernoff, Kelly, Tonks, Anderson, Cavanagh, Sinha and Abdi,
(2016), made up of “environmental challenge” and “environmental support”. We use this
construct to explore the connections between classroom environment and engagement (Philp &
Duchesne, 2016). Two sets of data are drawn from a first year French Beginner class (n=14) and
a second year French Advanced class (n=16), each taught by the same experienced tutor and
native speaker of French. Focal students were 4 Beginners and 6 Advanced students.
The data comprised a combination of video, observation and interviews with the teacher and
with the focal students, collected over two academic terms. Findings suggest that environmental
support through both teachers and students fosters behavioural and emotional engagement. For
example, when class activities matched students’ interest and background, when teachers
provided encouragement and were patently present, students showed higher involvement and
enjoyment of the task at hand. Interestingly the impact of challenges differed between students.
There is some evidence to suggest that task enjoyment counterbalanced the perceived difficulty
of the task, although this differed somewhat according to self-efficacy as well as interest in the
Chapter 7
Examining learner engagement in relationship to learning and communication mode
Carly Henderson, Daniel Jung, and Laura Gurzynski-Weiss
While engagement is considered integral to academic success, it is rarely operationalized in
research and has yet to be investigated as a predictor of L2 learning, despite evidence that it may
be a precursor of noticing (Baralt, Gurzynski-Weiss, & Kim, 2016). Prior research has also
shown that engagement may be mediated by interaction mode. This study is the first to
investigate how engagement, operationalized along cognitive, affective, social (Svalberg, 2009,
2012) as well as behavioral (Philp & Duchesne, 2016) dimensions relates to L2 learning, and if
this relationship differs according to interaction mode (face-to-face and synchronous text-based
chat). Sixteen intermediate-level learners of Spanish participated in information gap task-based
interactions in both modes with an interlocutor in a counterbalanced design, followed by mode-
specific stimulated recall sessions. Learners’ interactions, stimulated recall sessions, and post-
task questionnaires were coded for the four types of engagement and examined in relationship
with learning, operationalized as pretest to posttest gains made on task-specific vocabulary,
Spanish copula, and gender agreement. The predictive power of engagement was examined both
as a four-part construct as well as individually by engagement type in relationship to the three
types of learning, selected based on their differences in salience, task-essentialness, and learner
prior knowledge.
Chapter 8
Fake or real engagement Looks can be deceiving
Sarah Mercer, Kyle Talbot, and Isobel Kai-Hui Wang
Engagement has been referred to as ‘“the holy grail of learning” (Sinatra, Heddy & Lombardi,
2015, p. 1). Every teacher wants their learners to be engaged, to be actively working on the task,
emotionally invested and cognitively focused on it. However, in the age of distractions, this is
becoming increasingly difficult. The question every language teacher asks is how do I get my
learners’ attention and keep them focused on task?
In this chapter, we report on a two-stage study designed to investigate language learner
engagement from the learner perspective. Stage 1 involved a series of 5 exploratory focus
groups, which aimed to understand the quality and character of learner engagement, in particular
their perspectives on why and when they were engaged or not. An interesting finding in the
analysis of these data revealed that learners sometimes consciously manipulate their behaviours
in order to feign engagement in front of the teacher. This aspect of the data has important
implications for practice and how teachers interpret learner behaviours, which may outwardly
resemble engagement but may in fact be more acts of compliance as students enact the diligent
learner role. Such behaviour also threatens the validity of research approaches, which may rely
strongly on observational data as a measure of engagement. Consequently, stage 2 of the study
sought to better understand the ‘fake’ engagement of learners at tertiary and secondary level
through survey data and interviews. It looked in particular at the types of strategies learners
employ but also their motives in doing so and how this varies across contexts, concentrating
especially on notions of compliance and procedural versus substantive engagement (Nystrand &
Gamoran, 1991; Shernoff, 2013). As teachers and researchers, it is imperative that we distinguish
between fake and real engagement.
Chapter 9
The effect of choice on affective engagement: implications for task design
Linh Phung, Sachiko Nakamura, and Hayo Reinders
Learner engagement has been recognized as important for L2 learning in task-based language
teaching (Egbert, 2003; Philp and Duchesne, 2016; Svalberg, 2009). Research into engagement
in L2 tasks has indicated that when learners have more control or choice over what tasks to
perform, topics to discuss, or ideas to bring up, they are more engaged on tasks (Butler, 2017;
Lambert, Philp, and Nakamura, 2017; and Phung, 2017). In addition, when learners find the
topics or content familiar, personally relevant, and not too difficult, they are more likely to have
a positive affective disposition to the task (Phung, 2017; Qui and Lo, 2017). This chapter reports
a study that asked 24 learners at a Thai university to complete two tasks at two different levels of
choice (+constraint and -constraint) and compared their subjective responses in a questionnaire
after each task. The questionnaire used 23 Likert-scale items on learners’ enjoyment, focus, and
freedom of expression as well as their perceptions of task difficulty, task familiarity, and task
anxiety. A MANOVA conducted on these components showed a higher level of enjoyment,
focus, freedom of expression, and, interestingly, task anxiety in the -constraint task. There were
no statistically significant differences in their perceptions of the task difficulty and familiarity
between the two tasks. We concluded that task developers need to consider factors that influence
learners’ affective engagement in task performance although the relationship between task
anxiety and other dimensions of engagement (behavioral and cognitive) is complicated
(Nakamura, Phung, and Reinders., in preparation) and needs further exploration.
Chapter 10
How ideal classmates priming increases EFL classroom prosocial engagement?
Tetsuya Fukuda, Yoshifumi Fukada, Joseph Falout, and Tim Murphey
Encouraging students to imagine possible ideal classmates has been hypothesized to prime
prosocial engagement with actual classmates in L2 classrooms, particularly for classrooms in
which student silence, resistance and demotivation stand as problems to classroom group
dynamics and personal academic achievement. Although some studies have provided empirical
evidence, the hypothesis has not yet been tested in a more rigorously designed study until now.
The authors specifically conceptualize engagement as an expression of subjective interpersonal
relationships as occur during classroom interaction, theoretically embedded within broader
individual perspectives of school belonging and school identification, and realized through
physical presence and academic achievement.
For this study, university EFL communication classrooms were randomly assigned to one of
either of the two priming conditions, ideal classmates or future selves. Depending on the
condition, students individually expressed their imagined EFL-related ideal classmates or future
selves. The students then self-reported their own past, present and future EFL motivations at the
beginning and end of one semester, while also relating the levels of their classmates’ and their
own prosocial learning behaviors. The analysis explores the degree to which ideal classmates
priming influences engagement, while open-ended comments from students can help explain
their subjective experiences of student-student prosocial engagement.
Chapter 11
Engagement and cultural immersion in virtual reality narratives
Nicole Mills
Walker and White (2013) suggest that technology is transforming language learning and research
is needed to understand how emerging technologies influence engagement. Through virtual
reality experiences, students can change the way they experience material, alter perceptions and
attitudes, and learn complex information in context (Lee, Dede, Huang, and Richards, 2017).
This manuscript describes a Paris Narrative Virtual reality (VR) project in which four Parisians
from different backgrounds recorded their personal, social, and professional lives with a VR
camera. Each Parisian VR narrative allows language learners to vividly experience Parisian life
in multiple sensory modalities (visual, auditory, sensory, etc.) This manuscript will showcase
how this deeply contextualized and culturally immersive platform and its accompanying teaching
materials target the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and social dimensions of engagement
(Philp & Duquesne, 2016). The lesson design includes four phases inspired by Barnes-Karol &
Broner’s (2010) framework. Phase one includes a pre-viewing phase in which students discuss
predictions and hypotheses about VR content (cognitive and social engagement). Phase two
includes an extended immersive viewing phase (emotional and behavioral engagement). In phase
three, students re-watch selected VR segments and discuss description questions in groups
(cognitive, behavioral, and social engagement). Phase four includes a discussion and analysis of
the collected descriptive data in both small and large group discussion (cognitive and social
engagement). Description of future research and data elicitation will follow.
Chapter 12
Engagement growth in language learning classrooms: A latent growth analysis of
engagement in Japanese elementary schools
W. L. Quint Oga-Baldwin and Luke K. Fryer
As outlined by Fredricks and colleagues (2004), engagement is a multifaceted concept describing
how students think, act, and feel in class. Behavioral engagement describes how students pay
attention and work to complete classroom tasks. Emotional engagement has both internal and
external manifestations, where students enjoy the classroom and tasks materials and do not suffer
negative affect. Cognitive engagement refers to how students actively think during class by
making connections, solving problems, and answering questions. In this study, we aimed to show
how these three facets of engagement change over the course of two years of Japanese
elementary school language learning. Elementary school students learning English in a suburban
school district in Japan (n = 478) completed surveys during the 2013 and 2014 school years.
Students’ engagement was measured at five time points during their two years of English
instruction. Latent Growth Curve (LGC) analysis was used to measure changes in their
engagement. Results showed a clear positive trend for cognitive engagement over the course of
two years. Behavioral engagement showed weak growth, while emotional engagement did not
change. These findings indicate that students’ behavior and enjoyment of their classroom
activities may not change over time, reaching a stable point, while they may begin to engage in
cognitive aspects of communication over the course of their studies. Results further hint that
positive learning behaviors and enjoyment of the learning process may be necessary precursors
to cognitive engagement and later language learning.
Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the
concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59109.
Chapter 13
Modeling the relations between foreign language engagement, emotions, grit, and reading
Gholam Hassan Khajavy
Student engagement has been considered a vital factor in L2 learning. However, there are very
few studies which have examined this construct in L2 learning. First, there is little understanding
about the role of discrete emotions on student engagement and several researchers have called
for research on this topic (Boekaerts, 2016; Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2012). Second,
students’ engagement has been found to be related to their motivation and grit, though no
studies, to our knowledge, has examined the relation between engagement and L2 motivational
self-system and L2 grit. Considering the paucity of research on engagement in the field of SLA,
the aim of this research is to examine how engagement is longitudinally related to L2 emotions,
motivation, grit, and achievement. For this purpose, a total of 150 university students who are
studying English as an academic major would participate in the study. Students would rate their
emotions, motivation, grit, and engagement at two time points, once at the beginning of the
semester and then at the end of the semester. Subsequently, they would be given a C-test and a
reading comprehension test to assess their L2 achievement. The longitudinal relations among
variables would be examined using structural equation modeling. Findings would indicate how
experiencing different emotions and having different motivations and grit affect students’
engagement and achievement in the language classrooms.
Chapter 14
Conceptualising willingness to engage in L2 learning beyond the classroom
Isobel Kai-Hui Wang and Sarah Mercer
Increasing numbers of people are engaging in language learning ‘beyond the classroom’ (Benson
& Reinders, 2011). Out-of-class learning environments have great potential for providing
language learners with authentic language input, and opportunities to develop language skills.
The burgeoning of online resources and mobile technologies, in particular, has expanded
affordances for language learning and use beyond the classroom. Therefore, for those in
formalised learning contexts, out-of-class learning has become a critical dimension of successful
language learning (Richards, 2015). However, in order to fully exploit the resources and
affordances beyond the classroom, learners need to have high levels of engagement and be
personally invested in their language learning processes.
In this article, we explore data from a six-month longitudinal study based on a series of semi-
structured interviews and learning journals of a beginner learner of German. Inspired by the
pyramid model of Willingness to Communicate (WTC) (MacIntyre et al.,1998) and the notion of
Willingness to Participate (WTP) (Kubanyiova & Yue, 2019), we propose a model of
Willingness to Engage (WTE) emerging from our analysis of our data. It comprises individual,
social, and contextual variables which interact together to describe and explain this learners’
engagement in L2 use beyond the classroom. We suggest directions for further research using the
notion of WTE and for understanding learner engagement in L2 learning beyond the classroom.
We conclude by reflecting on the practical implications of our data-driven model for teachers
and individuals interested in how to increase WTE.
Benson, P., & Reinders, H. (Eds.) (2011). Beyond the language classroom. Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan.
Kubanyiova, M., & Yue, Z. (2019). Willingness to communicate in L2: Persons’ emerging
capacity to participate in acts of meaning making with one another. Journal for the Psychology
of Language Learning, 1, 42-66.
MacIntyre, P., Dörnyei, Z., Clément, R., & Noels, K. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to
communicate in a L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. The Modern
Language Journal, 82(4), 545-562.
Richards, J. (2015). The changing face of language learning: Learning beyond the classroom.
RELC Journal, 46(1), 5-22.
... Engagement refers to the amount and quality of learners' active participation in learning. Action is the defining characteristic of learner engagement because learning requires active involvement on the part of the learner (Hiver et al., 2021a). Some researchers, though not all, consider the use of SRL strategies as a key indicator of engagement: the active deployment of SRL strategies is related mostly to the subdomain of cognitive engagement (Fredricks et al., 2004). ...
... It describes learners' active involvement and degree of participation in an activity (Hiver et al., 2021b). Because learning must be done by learners, investigating their action in service of accomplishing learning is a core part of classroom research (Hiver et al., 2021a). Engagement is a multifaceted construct that includes, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions, among others (Fredricks et al., 2004). ...
... The consensus among scholars studying these domains is that greater levels and higher quality engagement follows when students utilize an array of learning strategies and deploy the necessary metacognitive knowledge and skills to manage these strategies successfully. In other words, it is possible for learners to be engaged and not be strategic or self-regulated (Järvelä & Renninger, 2014;Hiver et al., 2021a). However, because there is still too little research examining how students might actively manage their engagement, the question of whether all strategic and self-regulated learners are, by definition, also engaged remains an open empirical question (Pintrich, 2004;Winne, 2018b). ...
Self-regulated learning (SRL) is a topic of increasing interest in the field of language learning and instruction. In this study, we set out to investigate the relationship between students' use of SRL strategies in second language (L2) writing, their L2 writing engagement, and L2 writing procrastination. Data were collected from college students in mainland China (N = 816) related to their SRL strategy use, L2 writing engagement, and L2 writing procrastination. SRL strategy use for L2 writing was found to be an important predictor of student engagement in their writing class, and results from mediation analyses confirmed a full mediation effect from students' SRL strategy use to L2 writing procrastination through their engagement in L2 writing class. Student engagement in L2 writing class also significantly and negatively predicted students' procrastination in L2 writing. These findings suggest that the use of SRL strategies functions as an important antecedent to student engagement in their writing class, and that these jointly reduce student procrastination in L2 writing. Given the essential role SRL strategy use plays in student engagement in L2 writing classrooms, which in turn reduces student writing procrastination, we discuss the importance of explicitly supporting students’ SRL strategy use.
... Modern education calls for a diversification of communication methods that provide educational content intended to improve educational experiences. The nature of the subject, educational goals, learners' levels, characteristics, and preferences must be followed and used to improve educational experiences (Hiver, Al-Hoorie, & Mercer, 2020). Therefore, teachers should undertake several appropriate classroom roles that contribute to effective teaching methods to bring about the learners' desired learning, especially modern methods that focus on the communicative process. ...
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Communication through sign language is essential for teachers of deaf students. This study sought to assess and evaluate the sign language proficiency of preservice teachers of deaf students to help preservice teacher preparation program designers identify what aspects of sign language need to be focused on and provide recommendations to improve preservice teachers' sign language levels. An exploratory research design was used through questionnaires distributed to a convenience sample. The research subjects were undergraduate female students (N = 36) enrolled in a Saudi Arabian university's preservice preparation program for teachers of deaf students. This study's results indicate that preservice teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students scored highly for lexical signs, on an average level for iconic lexical signs, but on a low level for the domain of arbitrary lexical signs. There was a significant effect of participants' grade point averages (GPAs) on their overall sign language proficiency score. No significant effect of age, academic level, and the number of completed sign language training on overall sign language proficiency score was reported. This study's outcomes show that preservice teachers' sign language level needs to be improved and developed. Recommendations are presented for future research and preservice teacher preparation program designers to develop learners' sign language skills.
Task complexity and communication modes are two task design and implementation factors that have been found to affect second language (L2) learners’ oral performance. While increasing task complexity and developing tasks according to the features of face-to-face and computer-mediated communication modes can optimise L2 production, few studies attend to how the two factors affect learner engagement in task performance–a crucial but under-explored concept contributing to academic achievement. To address this gap, this experimental study investigated the impact of task complexity (operationalised as ± pre-task planning time and ± intentional reasoning demand) and communication modes (synchronous video-based computer-mediated communication, SvCMC versus face-to-face real-time communication, FTF) on L2 learners’ engagement in interactive oral tasks. Sixty-four English-as-a-second-language (ESL) learners formed their self-initiated dyads to perform three interactive oral tasks (from simple to + complex and ++complex conditions) on Zoom or in a physical classroom. They were also interviewed about their affective responses to the tasks. The oral discourse of task performance and interview data were analysed in terms of behavioural, cognitive, emotional, and social engagement. The findings revealed that task complexity affected the behavioural and cognitive engagement of FTF and SvCMC learners. SvCMC learners were behaviourally more engaged in task performance than their FTF peers, but mixed results were found in cognitive engagement. Mixed affective responses were reported by FTF and SvCMC learners for all task conditions. The findings suggest that increasing task complexity may partially engage L2 learners, and teachers need to consider the affordances of the two communication modes when designing tasks to engage learners in L2 production.
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In this study we investigated how student engagement and disengagement change over the course of a semester in the L2 classroom. We modeled change at the inter- and intra-individual levels, using time-variant predictors to examine differences in student classroom engagement and disengagement trajectories. In addition to these temporal dynamics, we also examined what motivational antecedents are related to these changes in engagement and disengagement over time. We collected data from 686 students enrolled in general-purpose English courses at two publicly funded universities in mainland China at three waves in a 17-week semester, and tested a series of multi-level, mixed-effects growth models. Our analyses showed that students who reported higher initial classroom engagement or disengagement levels had lower growth rates than their counterparts as the semester proceeded. Students’ classroom engagement in language learning dipped to its lowest point around the middle of the semester and peaked toward the end of the semester. Motivational antecedents were also strong predictors of student engagement and disengagement in the language classroom at both within- and between-person levels. We discuss the implications of these temporal dynamics of learner engagement in the language classroom.
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This study attempts to empirically examine the predictive power of learner anxiety and motivation and their causality in explaining English as a foreign language (EFL) proficiency and other interrelated affective variables, including attitudes, self-confidence, and grit via a treatment-based causal model. To achieve this, the study executed a 12 weeks-experimental intervention employed by 8 EFL teachers with 282 EFL learners divided into four groups: in group 1, learners were exposed to anxiety-regulating strategies, those in group 2 were exposed to motivational strategies, those in group 3 were exposed to both anxiety-controlling and motivational strategies; and those in group 4 were not exposed to specific anxiety or motivation strategies. Data was gathered using questionnaires, classroom observations, and proficiency tests. ANOVA and ANCOVA tests were employed to assess the treatment effects and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), structural equation modeling (SEM), and a partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) analyses were deployed to test a causal model for the relationship between affective variables and L2 proficiency in the group in which experiment was most effective. Significant direct paths were captured form all affective variables to L2 proficiency. Motivation and anxiety exerted significant direct, indirect, and high total effects on L2 proficiency confirming them as the best predictors and the causal variables of learners’ proficiency and the other affective variables.
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Task-based approaches to L2 instruction have become de rigueur in many learning contexts, and learners routinely encounter tasks in the course of regular L2 instruction. The reality of many instructed L2 contexts is that the same task or sequence of tasks can provoke varying responses when presented to students within the same group or classroom. Engagement is a useful lens for L2 researchers seeking to understand how and why individuals focus on, interact within, and learn from tasks. Task engagement can vary across students who are doing the same task, even if that task is highly stimulating. In addition, there may be important differences in how individual engagement manifests among students who have the same overarching level of engagement; these differences have implications for L2 learning and for researching tasks. This chapter is divided into three parts. In the first part, we define task engagement and provide a brief overview of existing work on the topic. As our review shows, task engagement represents the level and quality of a learner’s integrated mental and physical activity, as well as their affective experience, within a task. In the second part, we compare task engagement with task motivation, another framework for looking at students’ involvement in TBLT. We emphasize that task motivation can be thought of as either a precursor of task engagement or as the by-product of engaging in a task. We end our chapter by suggesting ideas for task engagement research that treats individuals’ task engagement as a holistic, situated, adaptive, and momentary phenomenon. Our position is that confusion in understanding task engagement may arise when macro-level information (i.e., general engagement tendencies in a collective of learners across a course of task-based language learning) is used to capture micro-level insights about the time (momentary), task (an individual task), and agent (the individual learner). In response, we propose ways to reconfigure the unit of analysis and the level of granularity at which task engagement is conceptualized, observed, and measured.
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Self-determination theory is one of the most established motivational theories both within second language learning and beyond. This theory has generated several mini-theories, namely: organismic integration theory, cognitive evaluation theory, basic psychological needs theory, goal contents theory, causality orientations theory, and relationships motivation theory. After providing an up-to-date account of these mini-theories, we present the results of a systematic review of empirical second language research into self-determination theory over a 30-year period (k = 111). Our analysis of studies in this report pool showed that some mini-theories were well-represented while others were underrepresented or absent from the literature. We also examined this report pool to note trends in research design, operationalization, measurement, and application of self-determination theory constructs. Based on our results, we highlight directions for future research in relation to theory and practice.
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Despite their well-established connections to student motivation and to learning outcomes, attributions, particularly at the task-level, have not garnered much attention in L2 learning research. However, research evidence in educational psychology (e.g., Stajkovic & Sommer, 2000) suggests that L2 task attributions may affect subsequent task engagement and performance. L2 task engagement is a construct studied extensively in recent L2 learning research because of its association with high-quality task performance and learning outcomes. The primary objective of this work-in-progress study is to clarify this potential link between L2 task attributions, engagement, and performance. In addition, the effect of effort feedback on these three constructs is also investigated. Previous research (e.g., Amemiya & Wang, 2018) has documented that effort feedback typically used with good intentions by L2 teachers may, in fact, backfire and exert negative influences on how individuals shape task attributions, which in turn lead to poor-quality task engagement and performance. A within-group quasi-experimental research design will be adopted for these purposes, and 120 Japanese high school students will be recruited. Participants will be divided into two groups to counterbalance the order of effort feedback provision. Three reading tasks from the EIKEN Test in Practical English Proficiency, Grade Pre-2, will be used, and time on task will be recorded as an indicator of task engagement. After performing the tasks, the participants will receive effort feedback and report their task attributions. The relationship between effort feedback, task attributions, engagement, and performance will be analyzed through hierarchical multiple regression analyses.
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Language learners’ engagement with a specific task is crucial to improving their academic achievement. To enhance student engagement and academic achievement in language learning, personalized language learning (PLL) can be employed to consider individual learning needs. Personalized review learning has emerged to facilitate PLL as a promising means of enhancing the long-term preservation of skills and knowledge in language education. In this paper, a personalized review learning approach is proposed that improves behavioral engagement and academic achievement in language learning through e-books. It involves implementing an e-book system, namely BookRoll, which allows users to browse uploaded learning materials anytime and anywhere, in concert with a personalized review learning system based on repeated retrieval practice. To evaluate the effects of this approach, a quasi-experiment was conducted on two classes of sophomore undergraduate students majoring in accounting who were enrolled in a Japanese course. 47 students from one class were assigned to an experimental group, whereas 44 students from another class were assigned to a control group. The duration of the experiment was 8 weeks. The experimental group learned using both the e-book system and personalized review learning system, whereas the control group learned only using the e-book system. The experimental group significantly outperformed the control group in terms of both behavioral engagement and academic achievement. The findings indicate that the proposed approach enhanced the students’ PLL experiences.
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This book syntheses cutting-edge research on the role of individual differences (IDs) in the field of SLA and in computer assisted language learning. It also outlines the theoretical and methodological issues at the heart of this research, presents empirical findings and charts future directions of this research. Pawlak and Kruk provide an overview of the latest theoretical developments in research on IDs in SLA as well as methodological considerations that are crucial when researching individual variation, with special emphasis on data-collection procedures that are most prominent in CALL. The book goes on to summarize and explore a body of empirical evidence concerning the role of individual difference factors in CALL, singling out existing gaps, methodological problems and areas in need of further investigation. Finally, the authors provide a guide on how empirical investigations of individual difference factors in CALL can be improved by incorporating the latest developments from the broader field of SLA. This book will be of great interest to postgraduates and scholars in the domain of applied linguistics and second language education who are interested in CALL, as well as those studying and undertaking research in second language learning and teaching.
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This comprehensive exploration of theoretical and practical aspects of out-of-class teaching and learning, from a variety of perspectives and in various settings around the world, includes a theoretical overview of the field, 11 data-based case studies, and practical advice on materials development for independent learning. Contents of this book include: (1) Introduction (P. Benson & H. Reinders); (2) Language Learning and Teaching Beyond the Classroom: An Introduction to the Field (P. Benson); (3) Family, Friends and Language Learning Beyond the Classroom: Social Networks and Social Capital in Language Learning (D. Palfreyman); (4) Places for Learning: Technology-Mediated Language Learning Practices Beyond the Classroom (L. Kuure); (5) From Milk Cartons to English Roommates: Context and Agency in L2 Learning Beyond the Classroom (P. Kalaja, R. Alanen, A. Palviainen & H. Dufva); (6) Affordances for Language Learning Beyond the Classroom (V. Menezes); (7) Becoming Multilingual: An Ethnographic Approach to SLA Beyond the Classroom (D. Divita); (8) Talk About Language Use: I Know a Little About Your Language (E. Zimmerman); (9) A Possible Path to Progress: Out-Of-School English Language Learners in Sweden (P. Sundqvist); (10) Teenagers Learning Languages Out of School: What, Why and How Do They Learn? How Can School Help Them? (S. Bailly); (11) Older Language Learners, Social Learning Spaces, and Community (G. Murray); (12) Tandem Learning In Virtual Spaces: Supporting Non-Formal and Informal Learning in Adults (U. Stickler & M. Emke); (13) Home Tutor Cognitions and the Nature of Tutor-Learner Relationships (G. Barkhuizen); and (14) Materials Development for Language Learning Beyond the Classroom (H. Reinders). (Contains 1 photo, 4 tables and 4 figures.)
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Why do some students seek, while others avoid, second language (L2) communication? Many language teachers have encountered students high in linguistic competence who are unwilling to use their L2 for communication whereas other students, with only minimal linguistic knowledge, seem to communicate in the L2 whenever possible. Despite excellent communicative competence, spontaneous and sustained use of the L2 is not ensured. A colleague, who teaches a L2 and whose L2 competence is excellent, is well known to avoid “like the plague” L2 communication in social settings. A related observation is that many learners have noticed that their willingness to communicate (WTC) varies considerably over time and across situations. Our aim in this article is twofold. First we wish to provide an account of the linguistic, communicative, and social psychological variables that might affect one's “willingness to communicate.” As demonstrated in the text below, and examination of WTC offers the opportunity to integrate psychological, linguistic, and communicative approaches to L2 research that typically have been independent of each other. We view the WTC model as having the potential to provide a useful interface between these disparate lines of inquiry. Our second goal is to suggest potential relations among these variables by outlining a comprehensive conceptual model that may be useful in describing, explaining, and predicting L2 communication. In an effort to move beyond linguistic or communicative competence as the primary goal of language instruction, this article represents an overt attempt to combine these disparate approaches in a common theme, that is, proposing WTC as the primary goal of language instruction.
This study advances research into individuals’ willingness to communicate in an additional language (L2 WTC) in classroom settings by departing from existing inquiry in two ways. First, it takes a multidimensional view of an “individual” in the classroom by integrating students’ various identities as persons engaged in meaning making with others across different social worlds and over time. Second, it broadens the epistemological scope of current research by situating the study of WTC in students’ actual acts of L2 communication in the classroom and in their larger sociocultural settings. Adopting broad principles of grounded theory ethnography, this study examined Jenny (pseudonym), a university student who was attending a general English course at her institution in mainland China. Data came from ethnographic classroom observations and life-story and photo-based interviews. The findings offer a refashioned definition of what it means to be willing to communicate in an L2 and how such willingness shapes the quality of one’s investment in acts of L2 meaning making and L2 learning in communal relationships with others.
There are two important dimensions to successful second language learning: what goes on inside the classroom and what goes on outside of the classroom. While language teaching has always been seen as a preparation for out-of-class uses of language, much of the focus in language teaching in the past has typically been on classroom-based language learning. At the same time the limitations of classroom-based learning have been frequently acknowledged. The opportunities for learning or ‘affordances’ available in the classroom are hence quite restricted, consisting of a limited range of discourse and literacy practices. Today, however, the internet, technology and the media, and the use of English in face-to-face as well as virtual social networks provide greater opportunities for meaningful and authentic language use than are available in the classroom. In view of the growing range of opportunities and resources available to support out-of-class learning the paper examines what some of these opportunities are, how they are used, the kinds of learning affordances they provide, and the issues they raise for classroom based teaching as well as second language teacher education.
The concept of school engagement has attracted increasing attention as representing a possible antidote to declining academic motivation and achievement. Engagement is presumed to be malleable, responsive to contextual features, and amenable to environmental change. Researchers describe behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement and recommend studying engagement as a multifaceted construct. This article reviews definitions, measures, precursors, and outcomes of engagement; discusses limitations in the existing research; and suggests improvements. The authors conclude that, although much has been learned, the potential contribution of the concept of school engagement to research on student experience has yet to be realized. They call for richer characterizations of how students behave, feel, and think—research that could aid in the development of finely tuned interventions