Using eye-tracking to understand reading in English as a foreign language

In ReadMe, we ask: How do readers process texts, how is this influenced by linguistic difficulties and reading goals? How can practitioners effectively support reading comprehension across different readers? To answer these questions, we study the reading processing and comprehension of adult and child readers, both in their first language German and in English as a foreign language. Reading processing is tested using eye-tracking methodology, and reading comprehension is tapped through comprehension questions. To study differences between readers, we combine reading data with tests of word knowledge.

On the basis of a preceding internship, students can do their theses in ReadMe and answer questions such as:

How does the reading processing (measured through eye movements) differ between German readers with smaller or larger vocabularies when reading English texts that are more or less difficult?


How does the influence of word knowledge on text processing differ between adolescents and adults reading texts in English as a foreign language?

Every intern is free to develop their own research question together with the project leader.

Tasks: Assistance in the preparation of experiments (preparing and improving materials), Collecting eye-tracking data in schools (year 8-9) and university laboratories.

Requirements: basic statistical knowledge and familiarity with R; interest in learning about eye-tracking; willingness, to study the topics bilingualism and eye movements in reading, including finding and reading scientific journal articles in English; professional and friendly manners when working with subjects; desirable are good English language skills and experience working with children and adolescents.

Supervision: All interns will learn about all steps involved in an eye-tracking study and gain direct experience collecting eye-tracking data.

During their thesis work, students will be supported in all aspects of their work (reviewing literature, formulating hypotheses, data analysis, and writing).

Timeframe: To sufficiently familiarise themselves with the methodology of the project, students will need to work in the project in an either 6 or 12-week long internship before being writing their thesis as part of the project.

We regularly run experiments as part of ReadMe and upcoming testing times can be found out by contacting the project leader Annina Hessel. For every experiment, up to two positions are available to students.

Registration: If you are interested in doing an internship combined with a thesis in ReadMe, please email Annina Hessel with your CV and a short letter of motivation: annina.hessel(at)