This paper reports on an action research investigation of a classroom activity called stand-up, designed to address student reluctance to express ideas and engage in whole-class discussion. It is set within a tertiary EFL context in Japan where students are typical reticent. To promote more active participation, students were asked to stand and volunteer an answer before they could sit down. Student opinions about the activity were collected in anonymous surveys, and data were tabulated and analysed using qualitative procedures. It was found that, though there was some misgiving and anxiety, students were strongly supportive of the activity, in part for what many saw as a needed push toward engagement, in part because participation was seen as fairly distributed and concentration was strengthened. Although the findings reflect only one teacher's approach to solving a problem of interaction, the study carries broader implications, suggesting that the L2 classroom can be a site of cultural transformation, leading to new patterns of interaction and ways of expression.