Engagement in initiation, response, and feedback in L2 classroom interactions

Discourse and Interaction


Engagement in the L2 classroom is consequential for enhancing the quality of L2 learning experiences; however, the exploration of engagement in the Initiation, Response, and Feedback (IRF) cycles has received scant attention in L2 pedagogy. This study reports on research, examining engagement in Initiation, Response, and Feedback moves in the IRF cycles. Video recordings and questionnaires were used to collect data from ten EFL classes, being directed by eight teachers, with 73 learners. Using a post-interaction questionnaire and conversation analysis of classroom interactions, the analysis of the data revealed 784 triadic cycles out of which 493 moves embodied engagement. The data showed that not only do the Response and Feedback stages afford L2 learners the opportunity to deliberate on Form-focused language-related episodes (F-LREs), Lexis-focused LREs (L-LREs), and Mechanical LREs (M-LREs), but they also promote social and affective engagement. The comments on the questionnaire also revealed a deeper understanding of the participants’ affective engagement. The findings revealed that certain features of the IRF cycles and peers’ contributions encourage engagement during the IRF cycles. The results also demonstrated that scaffolding, mutuality, reciprocity, back-channeling, and commenting on preceding contributions made L2 learners socially engaged. The analysis suggests that the IRF cycles can create ad-hoc chances for engagement in L2 classroom interactions.

affective engagement; classroom interaction; cognitive engagement; IRF cycle; social engagement
Author biographies

Masoomeh Estaji

Allameh Tabataba'i University

Masoomeh Estaji is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at Allameh Tabataba’i University (ATU), Tehran, Iran. She earned the Top Researcher Award at ATU in 2018, 2020 and 2022. She has presented and published numerous papers on methodology, testing, and second language acquisition (SLA). Her research interests include teacher education, language testing and assessment, and ESP.

Address: Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran. [e-mail: mestaji74@gmail.com]

Meisam Mirzaei Shojakhanlou

Allameh Tabataba'i University

Meisam Mirzaei Shojakhanlou is a Ph.D. candidate of TEFL at Allameh Tabataba’i University (ATU), Tehran, Iran. His areas of interest are L2 pragmatics, interlanguage pragmatics, discourse analysis, and teacher education.

Address: Department of English Language and Literature, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran. [e-mail: meisammirzaei2@gmail.com]


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