10 Years of Eye Tracking in Second Language Research: A Short Review and Future Directions / Dr. Öğr. Üyesi Emrah Dolgunsöz

(TÜRKİYE)

ABSTRACT

Recording, analyzing and interpreting eye movements in second language learning started to be popular among second language researchers for nearly a decade. Utilizing and interpreting eye movements requires technical information along with theoretical knowledge on the topic which make eye tracking an interdisciplinary technique. Starting in 2010, researchers focused on utilizing eye tracking technique to explore various topics related to second language processing and learning such as attention, awareness and word processing. This study aims to elaborate some remarkable papers related to language learning, processing and eye tracking technique. Focus of these studies varies from attention, noticing and awareness as well as strategy learning, reading and word recognition. Some other studies scrutinized morphological processing of unknown words and some others were more language-instruction oriented. Incidental vocabulary acquisition was also popular which can be explored well with eye tracking. Besides, this study also included the definition of key terms about eye tracking and briefly explained the technique. In conclusion, elaborating these prominent papers in 10 years of eye tracking in language processing and learning will contribute to researchers in language learning and will shape the direction of further related studies with eye tracking methodology.

 

İkinci Dil Araştırmalarında Göz Takibi Tekniğinin 10 Yılı: Kısa Bir İnceleme ve Yönelimler

ÖZET

İkinci dil öğreniminde göz hareketlerini kaydetmek, analiz etmek ve yorumlamak, neredeyse on yıldan beri ikinci dil araştırmacıları arasında popüler olmaya başlamıştır. Göz hareketlerini kullanmak ve yorumlamak teorik bilgilerle birlikte ciddi teknik bilgi gerektirir ve bu durum göz takibi tekniğini disiplinler arası bir teknik haline getirmektedir. Konuyla ilgili 2010'dan başlayarak, araştırmacılar ikinci dil işlemesi ve dikkat, farkındalık ve kelime işlemesi gibi öğrenme ile ilgili çeşitli konuları keşfetmek için göz izleme tekniğini kullanmaya başladılar. Bu çalışma, dil öğrenme, işleme ve göz izleme tekniği ile ilgili bazı dikkat çekici makalelerin derlenmesini ve yorumlanmasını amaçlamaktadır. Bu çalışmaların konuları dikkat, farkındalık ve farkındalığın yanı sıra stratejik okuma, doğal okuma ve kelime tanıma süreçleridir. Bazı diğer çalışmalar, bilinmeyen kelimelerin morfolojik işlenme süreçlerini incelemiş, bazıları ise daha çok dil öğretimine odaklanmıştır. Bunun yanı sıra, tesadüfi kelime edinimi de göz takibi tekniği ile incelenebilen yaygın bir konudur. Ayrıca, bu çalışma göz takibi ile ilgili temel terimlerin tanımını içermekte ve tekniği kısaca açıklamaktadır. Sonuç olarak, 10 yıllık süreçte ortaya çıkarılan önde gelen makalelerin incelenmesi, dil öğreniminde araştırmacılara katkıda bulunacak ve göz izleme tekniği ile ilgili daha ileri çalışmaların yönünü şekillendirecektir.

 

Introduction

Recording, analyzing and interpreting eye movements during second language processes gained pace and started to be popular among researchers for a decade. As an interdisciplinary research technique, employing and interpreting eye movement data requires both theoretical and technical knowledge in a well-designed experimental setting and research plan. Since 2010s, L2 researchers benefited eye tracking technique to investigate certain topics related to second and foreign language processing such as attention and learning, awareness and word processing and reading in a second language. This study aimed to elaborate some remarkable papers related to language learning, processing and eye tracking technique. Focus of these studies varies from attention, noticing and awareness as well as strategy learning, morphology, reading and word recognition processes. Some other studies scrutinized morphological processing of unknown words and some others were more language-instruction oriented. Incidental vocabulary acquisition was also quite popular which can be explored well with eye tracking. Besides, this presentation also included the definition of key terms about eye tracking and briefly explained the technique. In conclusion, elaborating these prominent papers in 10 years of eye tracking in language processing and learning will contribute to researchers in language learning and will shape the direction of further related studies with eye tracking methodology.

 

Eye Tracking: A Brief Definition

Eye movements are vital physiological behaviors with which we process, perceive and understand the world around us. Eye tracking is an interdisciplinary research technique referring to the recording of eye movements during visual processing. Basically, eye tracking works with the infrared illumination reflected on cornea which is then processed by a dedicated eye tracking software to analyze spatial and temporal qualities of perceptional processes. Most common type of eye trackers are remote eye trackers (ETs) which are attached to a monitor. These types of ETs are popular due to their speed. Another type of ETs are eye tracking glasses which started to be trendy lately. These devices are mobile and very useful for usability, marketing and sports research; albeit, their sampling rate is relatively low when compared to remote eye trackers.

 

Figure 1. Remote ETs and Eye Tracking Glasses

Eye tracking data presents gazeplots in which fixations and time spent on the visual can be analyzed. These plots help researchers to identify temporal and spatial qualities related to their research.

Figure 2. Gaze Plot Sample

A Brief Review of ET literature in L2 research

Exploring language learning topics by using eye tracking has increased for the last few years. Godfroid et al. (2010, 2013) investigated noticing hypothesis in SLA via eye tracking. The results of the data obtained from 28 participants showed that the amount of attention on an unknown word predicted its recognition and learning. In a similar study, Dolgunsöz (2015) examined the relationship between attention and vocabulary acquisition. His study confirmed that attention facilitates learning and working memory through rehearsal, however there is a certain threshold for attention span. Dolgunsöz (2016) also examined the role of attention on lexical inferences with 72 EFL learners. The results showed that, as previous studies mentioned, attention still held an important place on guessing the meaning from context. Another study by Dolgunsöz (2016a) focused on word skipping during reading in EFL. The findings showed that more proficient learners skip short function words and especially articles while reading in EFL.

As a triangulation example, Smith’s study (2012) triangulated eye tracking and SCMC to investigate noticing. Eighteen participants engaged in an online short chat interaction task with a native speaker. The results showed that eye tracking was a promising technique to investigate attention and noticing in SLA. As a cross-linguistic study, the study by Winke et al. (2013) examined the caption-reading behaviour of foreign language learners by using eye tracking technique. According to their findings, native language predicted time spent on captions in a foreign language. For instance, Arabic learners are found to have spent more time on captions than other learners from different language backgrounds. Chinese learners are observed to have spent comparatively less time on captions in the unfamiliar content video. In their research, Siyanova et al. (2011) utilized eye tracking to examine the idiom processing of L2 (second language) learners. By using metaphoric expressions as stimulus for 36 participants, their results indicated that native speakers were naturally better at idiom processing when compared with non-natives. In addition, non-natives were observed to have processed idioms and novel words at identical speed.

The study by Liu (2014) is more instruction-oriented, she investigated the effect of morphological competence on learning and processing of new vocabulary. In this instructional design, 68 learners received traditional and morphological instruction on vocabulary learning for 7 weeks. At the end of the instructional period, the results of the experiment showed that learners who received morphological instruction showed higher fixation-duration on morpheme areas, while other learners did not show the same sort of behavior. In addition, learners who received morphological instruction showed better success in post-test. Similarly, Prichard and Atkins’ study (2017) was directly related to learning and reading processes. They explored the global strategic competence of Japanese L2 readers. Their findings indicated that L2 readers often lack global strategic competence. This research is significant because no previous eye tracking study exists in EFL literature which examined strategic reading processes and attention.

Finally, Godfroid et. al. (2018) explored how continuous reading affected vocabulary gains. This study is significant as it was conducted in natural reading settings. In two sessions, native and non-native English speakers read five chapters of an authentic English novel containing Dari words. After reading, participants received a comprehension test and three surprise vocabulary tests. Growth curve modeling revealed a non-linear decrease in reading times that followed an S shaped curve. Number of exposures was the strongest predictor of vocabulary learning (form and meaning), while total reading time independently contributed to the learning of word meaning. Thus, both quantity and quality of lexical processing aid incremental vocabulary development and may reveal themselves differently in readers’ eye movement records.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, eye tracking has become popular among researchers in the last decade and it is promising for numerous future research including applied linguistic and language education. ET in language education should be more integrated to classroom, more studies are required in language classroom context which shed light on language practice in classrooms. For this aim along with remote eye trackers, eye tracking glasses would also be quite useful.

 

References

Godfroid, A., Boers, F., & Housen, A. (2013). An eye for words: Gauging the role of attention in incidental L2 vocabulary acquisition by means of eye-tracking. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 35(3), 483-517.

Godfroid, A., Housen, A., & Boers, F. (2010). A procedure for testing the Noticing Hypothesis in the context of vocabulary acquisition. Cognitive processing in second language acquisition, 169-197.

Dolgunsöz, E. (2015). Measuring attention in second language reading using eye-tracking: the case of the noticing hypothesis. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 8(5), 1-18.

Dolgunsöz, E. (2016). Using eye-tracking to measure lexical inferences and its effects on reading rate during EFL reading. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 12(1), 63-78.

Dolgunsöz, E., & Sarıçoban, A. (2016a). Word Skipping In Reading English As A Foreign Language: Evidence From Eye Tracking. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics

Smith, B. (2012). Eye tracking as a measure of noticing: A study of explicit recasts in SCMC. Language Learning & Technology, 16(3), 53-81.

Winke, P., Gass, S., & Sydorenko, T. (2013). Factors Influencing the Use of Captions by Foreign Language Learners: An Eye‐Tracking Study. The Modern Language Journal, 97(1), 254-275.

Siyanova-Chanturia, A., Conklin, K., & Schmitt, N. (2011). Adding more fuel to the fire: An eye-tracking study of idiom processing by native and non-native speakers. Foreign language Research, 27(2), 251-272.

Liu, P. L. (2014). Using eye tracking to understand the responses of learners to vocabulary learning strategy instruction and use. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(4), 330-343.

Prichard, C., & Atkins, A. (2018). L2 readers' global processing and selective Attention: An eye tracking study. Tesol Quarterly, 52(2), 445-456.

Godfroid, A., Ahn, J., Choi, I., Ballard, L., Cui, Y., Johnston, S., ... & Yoon, H. J. (2018). Incidental vocabulary learning in a natural reading context: an eye-tracking study. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(3), 563-584.