A Multimodal Analysis of Iranian EFL Learners Willingness to Participate in Collaborative Tasks: A Conversation Analysis Approach

Document Type : Research Article


1 Associate Professor, Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Sheikhbahaee University, Isfahan, Iran

2 MA, TEFL, Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Sheikhbahaee University, Isfahan, Iran


Despite the fact that classroom interaction is an indispensable aspect of language learning, many EFL students do not show any willingness to participate (WTP) in classroom activities. In view of this problem, the current study aimed to describe how Iranian EFL learners’ participation in collaborative tasks can lead to WTP. Therefore, primarily discoursal features of collaborative tasks and then behavioral representations of WTP were identified. To this end, nine EFL intermediate learners (five males and four females) participated in the study and were assigned to two groups. First two collaborative tasks were designed: The first group were asked to make a digital story collaboratively and the second group were asked to make an advertisement for selling a house. The classroom interactions among students in different classrooms were video-recorded and transcribed based on conversation analysis principles. Then the frequency of the turns taken by each student was counted as indicator of WTP in the assigned task. Multimodal analysis (gaze, facial expressions, head movement, body posture and gesture) was also used to analyze behavioral representations of EFL learners’ WTP. The findings revealed that discoursal features of WTP include negotiation, elaboration, conflict, sharing expertise, humor, asking for elaboration, conflict.,and behavioral representations include eye contact, body language, and the sitting position of students which can indicate that students’ engagement in collaborative tasks can have impact on their WTP. The findings can have implications for EFL teachers, material developers, and teacher education programs.


Main Subjects

Willingness to participate (WTP) which has seen a surge of interest in the research literature has been defined by MacIntyre, Baker, Clement, and Donovan (2002) as “an underlying continuum representing the predisposition toward or away from communicating, given the choice.” (p. 538). In other words, WPT is “the intention to initiate communication, given a choice” (MacIntyre et al. 2002, p. 639). MacIntyre, Dornyei, Clement, and Noels (1998) found that a number of factors play important roles in predisposing some learners to show a willingness to participate and to avoid participation. In this relation, it was found out that some cognitive and affective factors underlie WTP: motivation, personality, self-confidence, and intergroup climate. Fushino’s (2010) study of the relationship between beliefs about group work and WTP confirmed the role of intergroup climate in WTP. Other studies of WTP show its relationship to self-efficacy and self-confidence (Yashima, Zenuk-Nishide, & Shimizu 2004). Some studies have focused on cross-cultural aspects of WTP. Wen and Clement (2003) show that an individualistic, as opposed to a collectivist culture, would view constructs of self-efficacy from markedly different perspectives. MacIntyre, Baker, Clement, and Conrod (2001) found that learners who experienced social support from their friends showed higher levels of WTP.

Some SLA researchers (e.g. Evnitskaya & Berger 2017; Hellermann, 2007; Mondada & Pekarek Doehler 2004; Young & Miller 2004) have long been interested in understanding how task implementation factors can increase students’ willingness to participate (WTP) in classroom activities. This is particularly important in second language (L2) classrooms where being engaged in classroom interactions is an indispensable aspect of language learning. In view of this problem, researchers have increasingly been interested in how task implementation factors in the classroom affect interaction-driven language learning. The three most important factors in this relation include the interlocutor, task planning, and task repetition (Reddington, 2018).

One of the fundamental questions in this relation is the way collaborative task performance can heighten students’ WTP in classroom interactions. Collaborative tasks engage students in a variety of instructional activities such as small group discussions and team projects (Koschmann, 2013). Carrying out the task collaboratively is advantageous because it increases the amount of L2 input/output opportunities (Kim et al., 2015). Using collaborative tasks in language classrooms is also supported by the constructivist paradigm and their advantages include “positive interdependence, positive interaction, individual accountability, group processing, and social skills” (Falcó & Huertas, 2012, p. 1334). One of the distinguishing features of collaborative tasks for teaching is that it does not employ rigid roles for teachers and students (Koschmann, 2013).  There is also persuasive evidence that collaborative teams achieve higher levels of thought and retain information longer than students who work individually (Johnson & Johnson, 1994). Shared learning gives students an opportunity to engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning and, thus, become critical thinkers. Furthermore, the act of working in small groups collaboratively helps students to think aloud, take risks, and develop deeper understandings and higher-order thinking, and, therefore, become more self-confident as they develop their oral language skills and improve their relationships with other students as well as with their teachers (Koschmann, 2013).

In traditional approaches to SLA research, learners’ WTP has been studied from an individualistic and cognitive perspective (e.g. Gallagher, 2013). However, over the last decade, a number of conversation analysis (CA) approaches have revealed a further complexity of the notion of participation by adding semiotic resources such as gaze, facial expressions, head movement, body posture, gesture, and handling of material objects to their analysis. In this relation, Bezemer (2008) studied manifestations of orientation that students use to participate in the classroom. He argues that students use their direction of gaze, body posture, gesture, and other ways of communication to display their willingness to communicate. Evnitskaya and Morton (2011), using the principles of multimodal conversation analysis, provided a detailed analysis of how teachers and students used talk in interaction and other semiotic resources to participate in classroom activities. These studies have all used the "embodied participation framework" (Goodwin, 2000). According to this framework, the notions of participation and WTP are not merely limited to face-to-face interactions but include numerous other configurations mentioned above. This perspective calls for the redefinition of participation and WTP in the light of the notions of action and situated activity (Evnitskaya & Berger, 2017).

A usual non-verbal resource that students use to show their WTP is hand-raising. Sahlstrom (2002) revealed that hand-raising is usually accompanied by gaze and body orientation toward the teacher. However, hand-raising is not the only way to show one’s WTP. Therefore, Mortensen (2008) and Lauzon and Berger (2015) studied students’ other ways of displaying WTP such as “entering a mutual gaze with the teacher” (p. 4). As it can be observed, the research paradigm of students’ participation in the classroom has shifted from linguistic to nonverbal or embodied orientations of WTP. In view of this paradigm shift in CA from linguistic to paralinguistic features of communication and the unwillingness of some students to participate in classroom activities, the current study aims to describe how Iranian EFL learners’ participation in collaborative tasks can lead to WTP. 


Literature Review

Understanding the interactional architecture of L2 classrooms has particular contributions to managing students’ WTP. A multitude of researchers (e.g., Hall & Verplaets, 2000; Walsh, 2006) believe that WTP increases when students interact with each other. One major approach documented in the literature for analyzing classroom interactions is conversation analysis (CA). CA examines the procedures used in the production of ordinary conversation (Markee, 2000). One pioneering figure of CA is Sacks who believes that ordinary conversation is a deeply ordered, structurally organized phenomenon that participants accomplish in a social order. The goal of CA is to discover how participants understand and respond to one another in their turns at talk, with a central focus on how orders of actions are produced. CA is based on the premise that conversation has its own dynamic structures and rules and looks at the methods used by speakers to structure conversations efficiently. In CA, turns at talk, adjacency pairs, the topic of conversation repairs, and hesitations are analyzed. Over the last decade, a number of CA-based studies (e.g. Bezemer 2008; Cekaite 2007; Lauzon & Berger 2015) address embodied rather than only verbal aspects of interaction. A typical non-verbal resource used by students to display WTP is hand-raising. Sahlstrom (2002) revealed that hand-raising is usually accompanied by gaze and body orientation towards the teacher and displays learners’ willingness to speak.

   Turn-allocation has also been studied as a representation of WTP. Mortensen (2008) and Lauzon and Berger (2015) examined learners' subtle displays of WTP such as a mutual gaze with the teacher in a specific context of turn allocation. The findings of these studies indicate that the teacher selects only those students who display WTP, and contrary to the common belief that turn-allocation in whole-class activities is under teachers' full control; it is interactionally and multimodally negotiated between teachers and students.

   Sert (2015) showed occasions when learners display an unwillingness to participate in classroom interactions. Some behavioral representations of unwillingness to participate in classroom activities include long silences and learners' explicit claims of insufficient knowledge (e.g. I don't know) which is evidence of students' attempts to avoid being selected as the next speaker. In terms of embodied resources used to show unwillingness to participate in classroom activities, his findings indicate that students often employ gaze withdrawals, headshakes, smiles, covering face with hands, and disengaged body positioning. Tadayyon, Zarrinabadi, and Ketabi (2016) proposed that reducing students’ anxiety, motivating learners, teacher support, group work, and pushing toward production are possible strategies that teachers can employ to foster WTP in students.

One aspect of classroom interaction that has been analyzed is the interaction exchanged between students while doing collaborative tasks. Although WTP while being engaged in collaborative tasks is well documented (Blumenfeld, Kempler, & Krajcik, 2006), less is known about how WTP emerges in collaborative learning activities. Research in university contexts has revealed that challenges can range from perceived incompatibility of personality characteristics to emerging problems in social relationships. During a group learning activity, challenges can arise due to differences in respective goals, priorities and expectations, or conflicts generated by interpersonal dynamics such as different styles of working or communicating, the tendency of some individuals to rely on others to do their share of the work and power dynamics among members (Arvaja, Salovaara, Hakkinen, & Jarvela, 2007).

Culturally diverse groups can face further challenges due to greater differences in background characteristics. These can include language and familiar communication style, as well as prior cultural-educational experiences, which leave students unprepared to interact with peers (Volet & Ang, 1998; Volet & Karabenick, 2006). Groups and individuals also face challenges generated by cognitive processes in collaborative learning, those involved in creating a common ground in shared problem solving (Makitalo, Hakkinen, Jarvela & Leinonen 2002), negotiating multiple perspectives, and handling complex concepts (Feltovich, Spiro, Coulson, & Feltovich, 1996). Finally, challenges can also be triggered by circumstances external to the task itself. For example, group members may experience practical barriers that constrain their full engagement and participation (Jarvenoja & Jarvela 2005; Volet & Mansfield, 2006). These challenges cause emotional pressure on individuals to restore their wellbeing, maintain motivation, and achieve personal and group goals. Montazeri and Salimi (2019) studied the impact of oral metalinguistic corrective feedback on EFL learners’ WTC. The results indicated that metalinguistic corrective feedback has a significant effect on WTC. Ebadi and Ebadijalal (2020) examined the impact of a virtual reality tool on Iranian EFL learners’ WTP. The results of their study indicated that the experimental group was more willing to communicate at the end of the experiment. In the same vein, Jamalvandi, Jafarigohar, Jalilifar, and Soleimani (2020) examined the role of task-mediation and teacher scaffolding in EFL learners’ WTC. The results of their study indicated that the learners’ WTC changed with respect to the task type. Ishino (2021) explored how teachers allocate turns to the students who are unwilling to participate in classroom activities. Multimodal conversation analysis revealed that the teachers allocated a turn to unwilling students by directing their gaze not towards the students but the notebook in their hands prior to a turn allocation to a student. In view of the fact that less is known about how WTP emerges in collaborative learning activities, and none of the WTC studies conducted in Iran has used the framework of CA and multimodal discourse analysis, the current study, using the principles of CA and multimodal discourse analysis, aims to describe the way WTP emerges in collaborative tasks.




Participants of this study included nine students, five male and four female students, studying English in one of the language institutes in Isfahan. They had all registered for intermediate-level courses and were taught by the same teacher who was one of the researchers of the current study. Their proficiency level had been identified at the time of enrolment through the Oxford Proficiency Test, and on the basis of the results of this test, they were put in the same class.  Their age ranged from 13-17. The participants were selected via the convenience sampling method. This sampling method of data collection also known as availability sampling, haphazard sampling, or accidental sampling, is a kind of nonrandom sampling where the target population members have particular practical criteria including ease of access, geographical proximity, availability at a given time, or showing willingness to participate (Dornyei, 2007).  Convenience sampling mainly aims to collect information from easily accessible participants. The reason for applying this kind of sampling was the availability of the participants. Since the researchers needed to assign particular tasks to a group of learners; therefore, they should have used their own classrooms.



The current study is an exploratory study of students’ WTP across two collaborative tasks in order to give a richer perspective on the phenomenon. The aim of the study was to describe how participating in collaborative tasks can lead to WTP. To this aim, first, two collaborative tasks were designed. The first group of students included 5 male students who were asked to make a digital story about the effect of sport on the body, and the second group included four female students who were asked to write an advertisement for selling a house. Each group contained students who did not show any willingness to participate in classroom activities. The teacher of the class who was one of the researchers of the current study had noticed that the students were unwilling to participate in classroom activities. While conducting these two tasks, students' interactions for conducting the tasks were videotaped. This is due to the fact that the most recent approach to analyzing interaction attends to a diverse range of resources such as gestures, gaze, and body posture. Therefore, videotaping would have made it possible to analyze these non-verbal features (Kimura, Malabarba, Hall, 2018). Both sets of video data were collected with informed consent from the teachers and students.  The data were transcribed following CA conventions for talk (Jefferson, 2004). The reason for applying principles of CA is that over the past few decades CA has become a predominant approach to the study of classroom interaction. One reason for the growing application of CA is the empirical need for understanding how participants do teaching and learning (Loewenberg Ball & Forzani 2009; Cohen, 2004). To identify the discoursal features, the transcribed data were analyzed and patterns of verbal and nonverbal features were identified. The aim of this study, using both verbal and non-verbal resources of interaction, was to show how being engaged in collaborative tasks can increase WTP in classroom activities.


Data Analysis

Analysis of Discoursal Features of the Collaborative Task in the First Group (Digital Story)

In the following conversation, the students are brainstorming for making a digital story about the effect of exercising on one’s health. It is noteworthy that S3 and S4 were passive and unwilling to participate in previous classroom activities. The excerpt below shows how they were engaged in the collaborative task.


  1. T: Now, you remember the parts of body we learned last session?
  2. S1: =Yeah
  3. T: Now you are going to write a story on the effect of exercising on body health.
  4. S2: That’s very good!
  5. S1: actually mussels need exercising.
  6. S2: What do you mean?
  7. S1: = means by exercising our body injuries get better.
  8. S2: But sometimes it is not true and by doing sports it gets worse. Do you agree with me?
  9. S3: yes, for instance when you have a pain in your legs by playing football they hurt.
  10. S4: we don’t mean all the sports are good for all parts of body. For example, when you have a pain in your legs swimming makes them better.
  11. S5: Totally exercising is good but it is necessary to know which sport is needed to our body.
  12. S5: lets start from heart.
  13. S1: Ok. Exercising improve heart health…….
  14. S3: and reserve heart disease
  15. S2: exercising improves heart health and can also reserve heart di…….

How do you spell disease?

  1. S1: d-i-s-e-a-s-e
  2. S3: like mussels heart becomes stronger and pump more blood
  3. S5: and continue working at maximum level
  4. S2: Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and continue working at maximum level

S2: is this picture good for the text?

  1. S5: excellent
  2. S1: uhmmmm
  3. S1: All sports are useful for our bodies no matter which sport.
  4. S3: yes for example swimming for legs and arms, football for legs, and running for heart……..
  5. S2: What sport is good for eyebrows? (humor)
  6. S1: dance them like this …….. (humor)
  7. S2: laughing
  8. S4: and eating is good for lips. It is a kind of exercise too (humor)
  9. S5: (laughing) so I am going to be a sport man. A big eater (humor)


In this excerpt, two features of collaboration (i.e. negotiation and disagreement) can be observed. After S2 had given a suggestion, he asked for approval from the other four learners. Negotiation occurred in the form of seeking clarification when S2 wanted S1 to clarify his meaning. S1 responded how sport helps body health. As the discussion continued, there were clashes of ideas. As you see in lines 4 and 5, S2 and S3 disagreed with S1, so S4 extended S1’s explanation by giving examples to reinforce his idea. Disagreement among members increased WTP in silent students to talk and participate in the conversation. In the last line, S5 rephrased S1’s explanation to ensure that all the students made sense of it. The group members often resolved their different viewpoints by seeking other’s opinions (line 4).

As shown in excerpt 1, although S2 is not an active student, he started the conversation. It shows that he has become more willing to participate in classroom activities. S1 and S3 (students who are unwilling to participate) are good at giving ideas and S2 is better at reconstructing the sentences. When S2 asked for assistance with spelling a word, S1 provided the spelling for the word “disease”. S4 who did not have any ideas and monitored the other students was responsible for drawing a suitable picture for the text. Another striking feature of this collaborative task is the emergence of humor. S2 started joking and it paved the ground for motivating other members to participate in the activity. S1 answered S2’s question by joking too, and it made S4, who was a silent member, speak.

The first excerpt also shows an adjacency pair that could be considered summon-answer, followed by a number of such pairs in lines 1-4, which got the students involved in the topic. There are clear examples of turn-taking. Early in the sample, the teacher seemed to control most of the talk, but as the students were more engaged, the talk became more like everyday conversations with the student beginning to initiate more talk. In lines 3-5 it is clear that repair has happened, as S4 repaired S1.


Analysis of Discoursal Features of the Collaborative Task in Group 2 (Selling a House)

The members of this group were going to write an advertisement about selling a house.

  1. T: Look at this picture. Is this a beautiful house?
  2. S1: [Yeah]
  3. S2: [Yeah]
  4. S3: [(Yeah)]
  5. T: Do you like to have a house like this?
  6. S1. Yes, of course.
  7. S2: (Yeah)
  8. S3: (Yes)
  9. T: Imagine that this house is yours and you want to sell it to me. Write an advertisement for it.
  10. S1: Because this house seems peace I like it. What about you Zahra?
  11. S2: I think it is a big house and I love big houses.
  12. S3: Yes, it is very very big and peace….peaceful?
  13. S4. Yes big and peaceful.
  14. S1: What about the cost of this peaceful house?
  15. S3: [I don’t know]
  16. S4: It must be so expensive
  17. S2: I think it costs $1000 million.
  18. S1: Only $1000 million?!
  19. S4: I think it costs more than 2000 million.
  20. S1,S3:[I agree]


Although in the second group students are approving each other, they are, in fact, repeating what others have already said. This repetition strategy was probably employed by the listener to signal her agreement with the previous speaker’s utterance “yeah”. The group members often resolved their conflicts by seeking others’ opinions (line 10). They did not experience much conflict or major disagreements and valued each other’s opinions (lines 12 and 13).

As shown in the second excerpt, and as the number of turns taken by S1 and S2 indicates, they participated in the activity by expressing their ideas and sharing their expertise with other members of the group (lines 10 and 11). When S3 asked for assistance with the correct use of a word, S4 provided the correct form and corrected her mistake (lines 12 and 13). In line 14, S1 corrected his previous mistake (the use of peace instead of peaceful). The speaker corrected her utterance after realizing that she had made a mistake in her previous utterance. In this conversation, self-repair was one of the strategies that speakers employed in the conversation by self-correction as a way to provide a clear and comprehensible message to the listener.

There are 19 turns in this conversation. The important feature of this interaction was that each student took the floor independently without being forced to talk by the teacher, this is the characteristic of a student-centered classroom (line 10). The conversation is often structured around pairs of utterances that are dependent on each other. The S4’s response (line 16) is short and without hesitation; however, S1’s response (line 17) is hesitant and elaborate.


Discoursal Feature of WTP in Collaborative Tasks

Discoursal features of collaborative tasks which can heighten passive students' willingness to participate in classroom activities are as follows: negotiation, humor, sharing expertise, asking for elaboration, and conflict.


Analysis of Behavioral Representations of WTP in Collaborative Tasks

As shown in Image 1, there were 5 male learners in this group who were asked to make a digital story. S3 and S4 were not willing to participate in classroom activities. As it is clear in the image, S1 and S5 were willing to participate in the classroom activities.








Image 1.





Image 2.


After 15 minutes during which the students were making a digital story, S3, S4, and S2 (as shown in Image 2) started participating in classroom activities because they were more skillful in using the computer than other students. They all had eye contact with their partners in the group contrary to the first 15 minutes throughout which all preferred to be silent and not to look at each other.





Image 3.


After 20 minutes, the way of S4’s sitting changed from formal to a relaxed way (Image 3). It means that he did not have stress any more. Also S4 changed his seat to be more available to other students.



Image 4.


S3 also tried to have interactions with other students by using body language (Image 4). Body language is a vital part of understanding and communication which leads to motivation (Reddington, 2018).





Image 5.


S1 used body language to show he was so interested in participating in class activities. (image.5).



Image 6.


As it is clear in image 6, S3 stood up and got near to other students to have more interaction with them.


Analysis of Non-verbal (Behavioral) Indicators of WTP in Group 2

In group 2, there were 4 female students who were supposed to make an advertisement for selling a house. As it is shown in Image 7, S4 tried not to have eye contact with the teacher because she was so shy but other students looked at the teacher while she was explaining the task.






Image 7.








Image 8.


After 10 minutes the way S1’s sitting changed; she sat more comfortably (Image 8). As can be seen in Image 8, S4 and S2 became more relaxed and started looking at other students as they were speaking which shows they had concentrated on the task.









Image 9.


After 20 minutes, S2 tried to participate in the task by helping her partner and starting a student-student interaction.






Multimodal analysis of two data sets presenting small-group interactions contributed to a better understanding of learners' WTP and different participant roles they may take on in the interaction. Based on the collected video-recorded data, some indicators of WTP were revealed through CA. The findings indicated that collaborative tasks heightened students' WTP. The findings of this study are consistent with Envitskaya and Bergers’ (2017) findings which showed that cooperatively organized classrooms have a substantial impact on learners’ WTP. One of the features of collaborative interaction is sharing the individuals’ expertise. When learners work collaboratively with each other, they share their expertise with the group (Kayi-Aydar & Miller, 2018). For example, those students who cannot write well can suggest good ideas or some are better at grammar, spelling, others may focus on time management.

As one of the reasons for being unwilling to participate among students is lack of self-confidence, the skills of each member (expertise) provide a great chance of enhancing their motivation by letting the learners work on the field. While conducting collaborative tasks, students will find the opportunity to show their expertise. For instance, in this study since conducting one of the tasks involved having computer skills, the student having this skill showed more willingness to participate in group work. Therefore, the student showed more WTP in class activities in order to exhibit his skill.  It, likewise, provided a clear and comprehensive account that the WTP of people who joined and worked in groups was significantly higher than when they were working on their own. The results of this study also support the findings that learner-centered classrooms play an important role in motivating students. As Sun and Yuan (2018) assert, collaborative tasks help learners share their information and unify to resolve shared problems.

The collaborative tasks used in the study increased negotiation among the students and affected their WTP. As Hazel and Mortensen (2017) observed, cooperative learning situations result in higher levels of self-esteem, healthier processes for deriving conclusions about one’s self-worth, more intrinsic motivation, more persistence in completing the tasks, and greater psychological health than do individualistic learning experiences. Cooperative learning situations, according to Su and Zou (2020) increase the learning achievement of students because group discussion and cooperation promote discovery, lead to the development of higher quality cognitive strategies, increase comprehension requiring students to teach each other, enrich the learning experience by blending students of various ability levels and experiences, help the students gain confidence in their abilities and encourage the less proficient students to participate in classroom activities. Furthermore, the emergence of some features, like humor, made the learners interested in participating in discussions. Moreover, the way of their sitting and their body language showed that they felt more comfortable and less stressful. In accomplishing collaborative tasks, high achievers can support low achievers in doing challenging tasks. Low achievers can also enhance their communicative competence, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving abilities (Su & Zou, 2020).

Although the students had conflicts over some issues, these conflicts paved the ground for negotiation and communication. Hence, the students tried to take the control of the classroom. In this way, the teacher expanded her role, she was no longer simply the expert, she was a learner as well. Initially and systematically the atmosphere of the classroom went toward a student-centered classroom. This atmosphere is consistent with what Daskin (2014) describes, according to which learner-centered discourse provides opportunities for negotiation, which creates an environment favorable to participate in classroom activities. Shi (2000) also came to the conclusion that group talk generates more negotiated output and demonstrates greater effectiveness in developing language skills. Cooperative language learning has been proclaimed as an instructional approach in promoting cognitive and linguistic development of learners of English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL). Cooperative learning also integrates language and content learning, and its varied applications are in harmony with the pedagogical implications of the input, socialization, and interactive theories of L2 acquisition. This is because cooperative learning enhances the motivation and psychological adjustment of L2 learners (Cohen, 1994; Dornyei, 2002).

Another important feature of collaborative tasks which promotes communication is humor. Humor promotes a sense of immediacy and connection between the people in the group, reduces anxiety, and increases the enjoyment of and interest in the class (Bell & Pomerantz, 2016). In conclusion, researchers conducting CA do not assume that one approach will work for all learners and, thus, are not looking for best practices. However, their aim is to develop a richer understanding of the everyday interactional processes by which knowledge, identity, and power relations are constructed. Generally speaking, the participants in this study showed their WTP through orienting their gaze and body positioning to the relevant objects and participants at the appropriate moment. Contrary to traditional teacher-fronted classrooms where participation is regulated through hand-raising practices, the examined interaction excerpts in the current study displayed a learning environment with a more equalitarian participant positioning. The findings of the study also indicate that the notion of WTP goes far beyond the teachers’ expectations of the next speaker which is the result of the selection of a particular student through turn-allocation. This different representation of WTP helps teachers view students as agents in their learning process who construct learning opportunities in language classrooms. The analysis of the data also revealed that there are various forms of displaying WTP in classrooms. Students’ use of different verbal and non-verbal forms of WTP can be an index of developing their interactional competence (Evnitskaya & Berger, 2017).



The current study aimed to describe how Iranian EFL learners’ participation in collaborative tasks can lead to WTP. To this end, nine Iranian intermediate EFL learners were assigned to two groups to complete two collaborative tasks. The conversations exchanged among them were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the principles of CA. The findings of the study indicated that WTP is not exclusively a cognitive/inner state of individuals or their personal dispositions towards using L2 as implied by the concepts of ‘willingness to participate’. It is, also, a social, public demonstration of one’s interest (i.e. willingness) to engage in the ongoing pedagogical activity through specific embodied and/or verbal actions which are timed and sequentially appropriate, on the one hand, and interactionally recognizable by other participants, on the other. This public demonstration of interest implies displaying attentiveness, relevance, and understanding of the unfolding interaction and ongoing pedagogical activities, projecting upcoming conduct such as emerging turn-taking and speakership establishment, dealing with foci of attention and participation frameworks, selecting relevant participant roles from the ones available to them, etc. all of which are situated within unfolding courses of action.

The findings of this study can have implications for teacher education programs. The findings can make teachers aware of the potential role of using collaborative tasks and how their use can trigger students’ WTP in classroom activities. The results can also have implications for materials developers. They can include collaborative tasks in textbooks. Incorporating collaborative tasks in textbooks can substitute other time- and energy-consuming tasks in classrooms since EFL learners need tasks that motivate them to participate in the classroom, and collaborative tasks can do so. This study has also implications for teachers. Teachers can use collaborative tasks to foster student-student interaction and students’ WTP in classroom activities. In conclusion, this study points to certain directions for further research. A future study can analyze the interaction exchanges of advanced students. Other studies can be conducted to analyze the role of different tasks (affective, creative, role-playing, reflecting, brainstorming, etc.) on WTP.

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