• Warid Mihat National University of Malaysia (UKM)
  • Hazita Azman National University of Malaysia (UKM)
  • Kan Or Soh National University of Malaysia (UKM)


Current understanding of the psychological mechanisms underlying reading comprehension among multilinguals are typically limited to external observations of their ability to read and comprehend text. Additionally, descriptions of the nature of comprehension processes relied perilously on the use of memory taken after the reading process. In this article we introduce the potential of using eye tracking as a tool in collecting internal attention data for a deeper understanding of EFL text processing among multilinguals. The eye tracking procedures will enable researchers to combine perspectives collected from internal and external observations, to explicate and elucidate the complex cognitive processes of the multilingual when involved in reading. Since the use of the eye-tracking in reading research methodology is fairly new, particularly in multilingual contexts such as Malaysia and Nusantara in general, we will emphasize how progress has been achieved elsewhere in understanding text processing through the use of eye-tracking. The article will introduce relevant research projects that can be conducted using eye-tracking, after sketching the historical progression of eye-tracking research in the field. It concludes by suggesting that eye-tracking can provide a framework for studying the full range of the multilingual readers’ competencies in reading while expanding related theories about EFL reading.

Keywords: External attention, eye-tracking, internal attention, oculomotor-behaviours, oral-comprehension and multilingual readers

Cite as: Mihat, W., Azman, H. & Soh, O.K. (2018). Bringing reading research in multilingual Nusantara into a new direction through eye-tracking. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 3(2), 107-123.

Author Biography

Warid Mihat, National University of Malaysia (UKM)
Warid Mihat is a language teacher at SK Kubang Kerian 3, a high performing school situated at the heart of Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. He received his degree from University of Exeter (TESL) in 2010 before furthering his Masters study at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (MA TESOL) and later graduated in 2015. To date, he is a PhD Student at the National University of Malaysia (UKM), aiming to become a specialist in Eye-Tracking research which covers issues related to Reading and Literacy.


Allopenna, P. D., Magnuson J. S., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (1998). Tracking the time course of spoken word recognition using eye movements: Evidence for continuous mapping models. Journal of Memory and Language, 38(1), 419-439.

Altman, G. T. M. & Kamide, Y. (1999). Incremental interpretation at verbs: Restricting the domain of subsequent reference. Cognition, 73(1999), 247-264.

Angele, B. & Rayner, K. (2012). Processing ‘The’ in parafovea: Are articles skipped automatically? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 39(2), 649-662.

Azman, H. (2016). Implementation and challenges of English language education reform in Malaysian primary schools. 3L: Language, Linguistics, Literature, 22(3), 65-78.

Bruninghan, S. M. & Folk, J. R. (2012). Combining contextual and morphemic cue is beneficial during incidental vocabulary acquisition: Semantic transparency in novel compound word processing. Reading Research Quarterly, 47(2), 172-190.

Bojko, A. (2009). Informative or misleading? Heatmaps deconstructed. In J. A. Jacko (Ed.), Human-computer interaction (pp. 30-39). Heidelberg: Springer.

Clifton, C., Ferreira, F., Henderson, J. M., Inhoff, A. W., Liversedge, S. P., Reichle, E. D., & Schotter, E. R. (2016). Eye movements in reading and information processing: Keith Rayner’s 40 year legacy. Journal of Memory and Language, 86(1), 1-19.

Cunnings, I. & Sturt, P. (2018). Coargumenthood and the processing of pronouns. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(10), 1235-1251.

Duchowski, A. (2007). Eye tracking methodology: Theory and practice. New York: Springer.

Duffy, S. A., Morris, R. K., & Rayner, K. (1998). Lexical ambiguity and fixation times in reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 27(4), 429-446.

Felser, C. & Cunnings, I. (2012). Processing reflexives in a second language: The timing of structural and discourse-level constraints. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33(3), 571-603.

Higgins, E., Leinenger, M., & Rayner, K. (2014). Eye movements when viewing advertisements. Frontier in Psychology, 5(210), 1-15.

Hyönä, J. & Nurminen, A. M. (2006). Do adult readers know how they read? Evidence from eye movement patterns and verbal reports. British Journal of Psychology, 97(1), 31-50.

Joseph, H. & Nation, K. (2018). Examining incidental word learning during reading in children: The role of context. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166(1), 190-211.

Juhasz, B. J., Starr, M. S., Inhoff, A. W., & Placke, L. (2003). The effects of morphology on the processing of compound words: Evidence from naming, lexical decisions and eye fixations. British Journal of Psychology, 94(2), 223-244.

Kaakinen, J. K. & Hyönä, J. (2007). Strategy use in the reading span test: An analysis of eye movements and reported encoding strategies. Memory, 15(6), 634-646.

Kaakinen, J. K., Lehtola, A., & Paattilammi, S. (2015). The influence of a reading task on children’s eye movements during reading. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 27(5), 640-656.

Kendeou, P., Papadopoulos, T. C., & Spanoudis, G. (2012). Processing demands of reading comprehension tests in young readers. Learning and Instructions, 22(5), 354-367.

Li, L. (2015). Effects of metacognitive scaffolding on reading strategy use and reading performance of Chinese EFL tertiary students. (Unpublished master thesis). Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia.

Li, X., Liu, P., & Rayner, K. (2011). Eye movement guidance in Chinese reading: Is there a preferred viewing location? Vision Research, 51(10), 1146-1156.

Lin, S. E. (2009). Malaysian students’ English language reading standards: The case of Penang. (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia.

Lin, J. & Tsai, J. (2015, March 12). The optic nerve and its visual link to the brain [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Medina, A. L. & Pilonieta, P. (2006). Once upon a time: Comprehending narrative text. In J. S. Schumm (Ed), Reading assessment and instruction for all learners (pp. 222-261). New York: The Guilford Press.

Mihat, W. (2015). The English language curriculum in Malaysian indigenous primary classrooms: The reality and the ideal. 3L: Language, Linguistics, Literature, 21(3), 1-12.

Miller, B. W. (2015). Using reading times and eye-movements to measure cognitive engagement. Educational Psychologist, 50(1), 31-42.

MOE. (2016a). 2016 UPSR report. Putrajaya: Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia.

MOE. (2016b). PISA results. Putrajaya: Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia.

MOE. (2015). English language education in Malaysia: An agenda for reform 2015-2025. Putrajaya: Ministry of Education Malaysia.

MPM. (2018). 2018 MUET results. Putrajaya: Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi Malaysia.

MPM. (2015). 2015 MUET results. Putrajaya: Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi Malaysia.

Olitsky, S. E. & Nelson, L. B. (2003). Reading disorders in children. The Pediatric Clinics of North America, 50(1), 213-224.

Perez, A., Joseph, H. S. S. L., Bajo, T., & Nation, K. (2015). Evaluation and revision of inferential comprehension in narrative texts: An eye movement study. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(4), 549-566.

Raney, G. E., Campbell, S. J., & Bovee, J. C. (2014). Using eye movements to evaluate the cognitive processes involved in text comprehension [Video journal]. Journal of Visualized Experiments: JoVE, 83(1), e50780.

Rayner, K., Pollatsek, A., Ashby, J., & Clifton, C. Jr. (2012). Psychology in reading (2nd ed.). London: Psychology Press.

Rayner, K. & Reichle, E. D. (2011). Models of the reading process. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci, 1(6), 787-799.

Rayner, K. (2009). Eye movements and attention in reading, scene perception, and visual search. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(8), 1457-1506.

Reichle, E. D., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (2012). Eye movements in reading versus nonreading tasks: Using E-Z Reader to understand the role of word/stimulus familiarity. Visual Cognition, 20(4), 360-390.

Samuel, S. J. (2013). Toward a theory of automatic information processing in reading revisited. In D. E. Alvermann, N. J. Unrau & R. B. Rudell, (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading, 6th ed. (pp. 698-718). Newark: International Reading Association.

Soh, O. K. (2016). Examining the reading behaviours and performances of sixth-graders for reading instructions: Evidence from eye movements. Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, 12(4), 63-79.

Soh, O. K. (2017). Processing academic science reading texts through context effects: Evidence from eye movements. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13(3), 771-790.

Spivey, M. J. & Marian, V. (1999). Cross talk between native and second languages: Partial activation of an irrelevant lexicon. Psychological Science, 10(3), 281-284.

Staub, A., Dillon, B., & Clifton, C. (2017). The matrix verb as a source of comprehension difficulty in object relative clauses. Cognitive Science, 41(S6), 1353-1376.

Sturt, P. (2007). Semantic re-interpretation and garden path recovery. Cognition, 105(2), 477-488.

Swan, M. & Walter, C. (2017). Misunderstanding comprehension. ELT Journal, 71(2), 228-236.

Swerling, L. S. (2013). A road map for understanding reading disabilities and other reading problems, redux. In D. E. Alvermann, N. J. Unrau, & R. B. Rudell (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading, 6th ed. (pp. 412-436). Newark: International Reading Association.

Swerling, L. S. (2015). Common types of reading problems and how to help children who have them. The Reading Teacher, 69(5), 513-522.

Takacs, Z. K. & Bus, A. G. (2016). Benefits of motion in animated storybooks for children's visual attention and story comprehension: An eye-tracking study. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1591), 1-12.

Tanenhaus, M. K., Knowlton, M. J. S., Eberhard, K. M., & Sedivy, J. C. (1995). Integration of visual and linguistic information in spoken langauge comprehension. Science, 268(5217), 1632-1634.

Van den Broek, P., Tzeng, Y., Risden, K.,Trabasso, T., & Basche, P. (2001). Inferential questioning: Effects on comprehension of narrative texts as a function of grade and timing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(3), 521-529.

Wotschack, C. (2009). Eye movements in reading strategies: How reading strategies modulate effects of distributed processing and oculomotor control. Potsdam: Potsdam University Press.

How to Cite