Abstract: A fundamental question in language learning concerns the role of a speaker's first language in second language acquisition. We present a novel methodology for studying this question: analysis of eye-movement patterns in second language reading of free-form text. Using this methodology, we demonstrate for the first time that the native language of English learners can be predicted from their gaze fixations when reading English. We provide analysis of classifier uncertainty and learned features, which indicates that differences in English reading are likely to be rooted in linguistic divergences across native languages. The presented framework complements production studies and offers new ground for advancing research on multilingualism.
Authors: Yevgeni Berzak, Chie Nakamura, Suzanne Flynn, Boris Katz (MIT)