Tracking the eye movement of four years old children learning Chinese words

Dan LIN, Guangyao CHEN, Yingyi LIU, Jiaxin LIU, Jue PAN, Lei MO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Storybook reading is the major source of literacy exposure for beginning readers. The present study tracked 4-year-old Chinese children’s eye movements while they were reading simulated storybook pages. Their eye-movement patterns were examined in relation to their word learning gains. The same reading list, consisting of 20 two-character Chinese words, was used in the pretest, 5-min eye-tracking learning session, and posttest. Additionally, visual spatial skill and phonological awareness were assessed in the pretest as cognitive controls. The results showed that the children’s attention was attracted quickly by pictures, on which their attention was focused most, with only 13% of the time looking at words. Moreover, significant learning gains in word reading were observed, from the pretest to posttest, from 5-min exposure to simulated storybook pages with words, picture and pronunciation of two-character words present. Furthermore, the children’s attention to words significantly predicted posttest reading beyond socioeconomic status, age, visual spatial skill, phonological awareness and pretest reading performance. This eye-movement evidence of storybook reading by children as young as four years, reading a non-alphabetic script (i.e., Chinese), has demonstrated exciting findings that children can learn words effectively with minimal exposure and little instruction; these findings suggest that learning to read requires attention to the basic words itself. The study contributes to our understanding of early reading acquisition with eye-movement evidence from beginning readers. Copyright © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-93
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number1
Early online dateAug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Lin, D., Chen, G., Liu, Y., Liu, J., Pan, J., & Mo, L. (2018). Tracking the eye movement of four years old children learning Chinese words. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 47(1), 79–93. doi: 10.1007/s10936-017-9515-x


  • Eye movement
  • Reading
  • Storybook
  • Print
  • Picture


Dive into the research topics of 'Tracking the eye movement of four years old children learning Chinese words'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.