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Eye-tracking research across SLA disciplines: A synthetic review
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Abstract

Eye-movement recordings, or eye tracking, can offer a window into language learners’ minds by providing real-time information on learners’ attentional processes (Godfroid, forthcoming). Close to 100 studies with late L2 learners or bilinguals have been published in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) to date and hundreds more have appeared in psychology journals. In this talk, I present the findings of a synthetic review of the

SLA eye-tracking literature, focusing on both substantive and methodological features of the surveyed work.
An online search of academic databases of 16 SLA journals (VanPatten & Williams, 2002) resulted in the identification of 50 text-based studies and 32 articles that used primarily auditory input. Across the two modalities, studies on grammar knowledge and processing constituted the largest research strand, followed by research on lexical processing and acquisition and the nature of the bilingual lexicon. The survey also revealed innovative uses of eye tracking to study effects of instruction, language assessment, multimedia learning, and oral interaction.

The methodological part of this talk will highlight the richness in dependent variables in eye-tracking research, and the importance of interest areas (regions of analysis) for both producers and consumers of this research. The wealth of eye-tracking applications in SLA attests to the innovation and expertise of a growing community of researchers. I argue that because of its versatility, eye tracking has something to offer to many researchers in the field.

Summary

I provide a synthetic review of SLA eye-tracking studies published between 2007 and 2017. Eye-tracking applications have become increasingly diverse, now spanning at least eight different substrands, with measures tailored to each subarea. The range of applications is expected to grow further as more researchers discover the benefits of eye-movement recordings.

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