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Academic Paper


Title: An Eye for Words - Gauging the Role of Attention in Incidental L2 Vocabulary Acquisition by Means of Eye-Tracking
Author: Aline Godfroid
Institution: Michigan State University
Author: Franks Boers
Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Author: Alex Housen
Institution: Vrije University Brussels
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: 'This eye-tracking study tests the hypothesis that more attention leads to more learning, following claims that attention to new language elements in the input results in their initial representation in long-term memory (i.e., intake; Robinson, 2003; Schmidt, 1990, 2001).
Twenty-eight advanced learners of English read English texts that contained 12 targets for incidental word learning. The target was a known word (control condition), a matched pseudoword, or that pseudoword preceded or followed by the known word (with the latter being a cue to the pseudoword’s meaning). Participants’ eye-fixation durations on the targets during reading served as a measure of the amount of attention paid (see Rayner, 2009).
Results indicate that participants spent more time processing the unknown pseudowords than their matched controls. The longer participants looked at a pseudoword during reading, the more likely they were to recognize that word in an unannounced vocabulary posttest. Finally, the known, appositive cues were fixated longer when they followed the pseudowords than when they preceded them; however, their presence did not lead to higher retention of the pseudowords.
We discuss how eye-tracking may add to existing methodologies for studying attention and noticing (Schmidt, 1990) in SLA.

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This article appears IN Studies in Second Language Acquisition Vol. 35, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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