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Abstract

Eye-tracking has become widespread in psychology and psycholinguistic research over the past thirty years, and has even been referred to as the ‘gold standard’ in research in these fields (Rayner, 2009). In the last decade, it is increasingly being used in SLA research in ground-breaking studies that exploit its rich moment-to-moment data source. As eye-tracking takes off in SLA research, it is important to keep in mind that it is simply a tool. Like all tools, it is only as good as the uses we put it to. Thus, as eye-tracking is incorporated into our methodological tool-kit, we need to have a good understanding of what the tool is and what it can do. To achieve this, the colloquium provides an overview of both the text-based and auditory research that has been done in the field. In addition, it explores issues surrounding standardization, which will facilitate comparisons of research results across studies. Further, the colloquium demonstrates the range of research and tasks that may benefit from the use of the technology, with presentations on cutting edge research that makes use of eye-tracking spanning a diverse set of topics: learning new L2 words from captioned videos; learning L2 words and ‘grammar’ from auditory input accompanied by a visual scene; L2 processing during writing; and exploring communication breakdowns in L2 interactions.

Summary

Eye-tracking is quickly becoming a valuable tool in applied linguistics research because it provides a ‘real-time’, direct measure of processing effort. The colloquium provides an overview of the innovative research going on in the field, as well as exploring issues surrounding standardization to facilitate high-quality research and comparisons across studies.

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