In modern language teaching, it is assumed that students need to be Willing(ness) to Communicate (WTC) in the second or foreign language in order to learn it, and therefore, students' oral participation in class is a desired - and expected or even required - behavior. However, there are social, contextual and individual variables that influence students' decisions to speak up or remain silent when the situation calls for spoken participation in class. This mixed-methods study investigates L2 use and classroom participation practices of German-as-foreign-language learners; their predictions and expectations regarding their own participation during the foreign language class; and the reasons behind their actions according to their own accounts. Students answered an in-class survey administered at different points during four lessons sampled throughout an academic semester. Using stimulated recall interviews, focal participants were asked to explain their reasoning for speaking or remaining silent at specific moments in the class meetings. Findings revealed a link between predicted and self-reported participation that developed progressively as a result of a combination of factors, such as alignment with classroom norms, the teacher's expectations, students' speaking goals, and motivation among others. These findings provide a new understanding of WTC and bear pedagogical implications for teaching.