This study aimed to investigate the reasons that prevent pre-service teachers from actively participating in lessons in the teacher training context. Participants were 79 undergraduate pre-service teachers. Qualitative content analysis using Nvivo software revealed that pre-service teachers do not actively participate in lessons because of several reasons which we classified under four main categories. They are, in order of importance, personal reasons, instructor related reasons, course related reasons, and classroom environment related reasons. Though personal reasons were at the top of the list, the most outstanding personal reasons i.e. negative attitudes towards course or department, lack of confidence or fear of making mistakes, and negative attitudes towards instructor were found to be affected mainly by two of the teacher related reasons: instructor's failure to build a good rapport with students and instructor's poor teaching skills in particular. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.