Introduction Among the most common academic classroom oral activities, listening to lectures and note-taking stand out, followed by participating in whole-class discussions, delivering oral presentations, raising questions or participating in seminar discussions. Seminars have often been regarded as an occluded genre that may have been overshadowed by lectures. Nevertheless, over the past decade, they have started to be recognised as an important academic instructional genre, alongside lectures and textbooks (Hyland 2009). Participating in seminars can be challenging for many university students, especially for non-native English-speakers (NNESs) (Kim 2006; Morita 2004), so pinning down seminars can help us gain insight into the increasingly larger linguistic and communicative demands that are cast over native and non-native English-speaking university students alike.