This article reports on an investigation into how learners in a British EFL setting perceive the classroom practice of student–student interaction and why it is perceived in these ways. Adopting qualitative non-experimental methods, I first explored issues leading to the concept of ‘usefulness’ and identified factors that appeared to have affected learners’ perceptions. I then placed the individual learners’ perspectives within his/her personal biography, so as to provide a more in-depth description. The findings suggested that learners in a British EFL setting perceived the classroom practice of student–student interaction in ways that reflected their initial motives and goals, their expectations of an English course in the United Kingdom, and their wider experiences of living and studying. They also suggested that learner interaction within real classroom contexts was interesting in its potential for interpersonal and intercultural communication but relatively unhelpful in the acquisition of certain aspects of the L2.