Computer-assisted language learning, or CALL, is an interdisciplinary area of research, positioned between science and social science, computing and education, linguistics and applied linguistics. This paper argues that by appropriating methods originating in some areas of CALL-related research, for example human-computer interaction (HCI) or psycholinguistics, the agenda of “attention-focus” research can be shifted from a cognitive perspective to a learner-centred approach; understanding online language learning and teaching spaces as mediated by technology; second/foreign language learning; and online teaching culture.
Taking a method that has traditionally been used within a positivist paradigm, the authors exemplify the potential of eyetracking to advance online language learning research – extending it in ways compatible with a sociocultural paradigm. This is evidenced by two pioneering studies in which an innovative combination of methods allows participants, whose gaze focus was recorded during synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC), to reflect back on their involvement. Eyetracking is combined with stimulated recall interviews that trigger deep reflection on learner and teacher strategies by directing participants’ recollections on their attention focus.
The rich, multifaceted results shown by this original and innovative use of eyetracking methods in a sociocultural framework suggest a way forward in researching online learning by integrating insider and outside views coherently and systematically.