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Article

Eye-movement benchmarks in Heritage Language reading

Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 2021. Vol. 24. No. 1. P. 69-82.
Parshina O., Laurinavichyute A., Sekerina I. A.

This eye-tracking study establishes basic eye-movement benchmarks in heritage language (HL) Russian-speaking adults and adolescents of high (n = 21) and low proficiency (n = 27) who read sentences in Cyrillic and compares them with those of monolingual skilled adult readers, 8-year-old children and L2 learners. Eye-movement reading patterns of Heritage Speakers (HS) revealed longer mean fixation durations, lower skipping probability, and higher regressive saccade rates than monolingual adults. High-proficient HSs were more similar to monolingual children, while low-proficient HSs performed on par with L2 learners. Low-proficient HS differed from high-proficient HS in exhibiting lower skipping probabilities, higher fixation counts, and larger frequency effects. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the weaker links account of bilingual language processing as well as the divergent attainment theory of HL.