Eye movements in reading span tasks to working memory functions and second language reading

Cem Alptekin
Boğaziçi University
Gülcan Erçetin
Boğaziçi University
Keywords: Working memory, eye movements, reading span tasks, L2 reading comprehension


In an eye-tracking experiment with late second language (L2) learners, the present study probed into the relationship between eye-movement (EM) measures and the processing and storage outcomes of reading span tasks (RST) to determine whether EM patterns actually reflect working memory (WM) functions in the L2. Additionally, it examined the relationship between WM capacity as indexed by EMs and L2 reading comprehension to explore whether it was possible to map offline and online data as predictors of L2 reading. The findings reveal that storage performance was negatively affected by fixation durations within the “critical” region of each sentence, indicating a trade-off between processing and storage. Additionally, regressions launched from the sentence-final region were negatively related to not only storage and processing performance but also L2 reading comprehension. These results have implications regarding whether EMs can be instrumental in validating offline span task outcomes and their association with L2 reading.