Teachers of young learners often seek guidance on how best to engage and motivate their students. In this study, we aimed to document engaging teacher practices in the context of foreign language classes in Japanese elementary schools. We surveyed 16 public elementary school foreign language classes in western Japan using quantitative (questionnaire; external rating) and qualitative (naturalistic observation) tools grounded in self-determination theory. Classes were sorted into three groups of high, middle, and low teacher support based on student surveys, and observed for practices that influenced student engagement in each tercile. Results indicate that students are most responsive in classrooms involving teacher warmth and strictness, homeroom teacher involvement, appropriate pacing, instructional clarity, and a balance of activities. We offer descriptions of how these practices were employed, with implications for classroom practice and teacher training.
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