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How much exposure is needed for learners to pay attention?: Lessons from an eye-tracking study

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date30/08/2017
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventEUROSLA 27 - University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Duration: 30/08/20172/09/2017
Conference number: 27


ConferenceEUROSLA 27
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


In this study we examined how students pay attention to target items in written L2
input in different instructional conditions and how attentional processing is related to the length of exposure. In an eye-tracking study, 45 undergraduate L2 learners of English in Sri Lanka read a story containing seven examples of a grammatical construction on three separate sessions. The first group read the stories with no textual enhancement and the second with the examples of the target structure visually enhanced. These were considered implicit instructional conditions. The third group was exposed to enhanced input with a specific instruction to pay attention to the highlighted construction in the input. The fourth group also received explicit explanation of the target construction between the first and second exposures. The latter two exposures were considered explicit instructional conditions. Eye tracking was used to collect data on attentional processing, which we measured by the difference between observed and expected total fixation duration (DOE) on the target items.

Using Linear Mixed-Effects Models, we examined how input type, text and item
sequence influenced the changes in DOE values. We fitted our models with random effects to accurately estimate the fixed effects while accounting for random variation in DOE associated with the differences between participants. The findings indicate significant main effects of input type and target item and interactions between input type and text, between input type and items and three-way interactions between the examined factors. Participants paid most attention to the first two items in each three texts and in the explicit instructional conditions attention decreased significantly afterwards. In the implicit conditions this decrease could not be observed. Explicit explanation between the exposures was found to be effective in raising attention to target items.