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Languages and applied linguistics
Eyetracking research on online language practices

Eyetracking research on online language practices

Eyetracking allows researchers to investigate the gaze focus (and by implication the attention focus) of people working on a computer screen. In language research, this method has been used to analyse the reading behaviour of first language users and second language learners, test taking practices, and more recently also learning strategies during synchronous online language tutorials. The method has potential to research the strategies of language professionals, e.g. the complex classroom management skills of online language teachers or the search and scan patterns of professional translators. As this area of research is relatively new, part of its challenge and potential is the establishment of baseline measures for attention time and patterns, comparability of results, ground rules for task settings, and justifying the implementation of naturalistic approaches in traditional laboratory settings.

The Open University is fully equipped to conduct eyetracking projects within its own Jennie Lee Laboratories (Institute of Educational Technology) or in distributed locations using its portable desktop eyetracker and eyetracking glasses.

Qualifications available

PhD, Professional Doctorate.


For detailed information on current fees visit Research degree Fees.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent).

Potential research projects

  • Attention focus during online language learning
  • Baseline measures for first, second and third language reading
  • The application of eyetracking to research on new technologies in language learning and teaching
  • The professional skills of online language teachers
  • The professional skills of translators and interpreters
  • Independent language learning and the use of social media
  • Interaction and collaboration in language learning
  • Task design for online language learning
  • Assessment behaviour of online language learners
  • The role of social presence in speaking online
  • Strategies in language learning
  • Eye-tracking as a research method in translation studies
  • Translator behaviours and strategies

Current/recent research projects

  • Researching cognitive processing and other aspects of L2 reading
  • Eye movements of online Chinese learners
  • Eye movements of online language teachers
  • Interpreting the Silence Online: Eyetracking and Stimulated Recall as Methods of Investigation
  • Eyetracking methodology in SCMC: a tool for empowering learning and teaching

Potential supervisors


Man at computer

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Inma Álvarez, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
Phone: +44 (0)1908 659169