Second language (L2) learner engagement has been a key theme in applied linguistics over the past two decades; however, teachers' voices have been largely absent from L2 learner engagement research. In addition, little is known about what learner engagement means to L2 language teachers. Through semi-structured, in-depth interviews, this study aims to capture the conceptualizations of learner engagement and the perceptions of the factors facilitating or hindering learner engagement in L2 learning in a Saudi university context, as expressed by 12 English as a Foreign Language university (EFL) teachers. The data analysis method used was inductive thematic analysis. The findings revealed that, for the participating teachers, learner engagement is a multifaceted concept, although it was commonly seen in terms of the behavioral and affective dimensions. Teachers' perceptions of the factors that facilitate or hinder the promotion of learner engagement were also explored, and among these, the most salient factors were learners' attributes and behaviors, teachers' pedagogical practices, student-teacher rapport, social context, institutional policies, and broader educational system. This study underscores the urgent need to acknowledge the importance of L2 teachers' perceptions of learner engagement within and beyond the EFL classroom. It emphasizes the crucial role of continuous professional development in empowering teachers to enhance their skills in engaging learners and effectively addressing the challenges they face.


L2 learner engagement, student-related factors, student–teacher rapport, contextual factors

Author Bio(s)

Eman Alzaanin (ORCID https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9332-233X) is an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Languages and Translation - King Khalid University. Her areas of interests include teacher cognition, pre-service teacher identity construction, teacher emotions, and learner engagement. Please direct correspondence to eman.alzaanin@outlook.com.


The author extends her appreciation to the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Khalid University for funding this work through Small Group Research Project under grant number (RGP1/308/44) I am grateful to the wonderful teachers who shared their conceptualizations about language learner engagement with me.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.







To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.