Attention distribution and cognitive load in a subtitled academic lecture: L1 vs. L2

Jan-Louis Kruger, Esté Hefer, Gordon Matthew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
339 Downloads (Pure)


In multilingual classrooms, subtitling can be used to address the language needs of students from different linguistic backgrounds. The way students distribute their visual and cognitive resources during a lecture is important in educational design. Students have to shift their attention between sources of information of varying density and relevance. If there is redundancy between these sources, there will be competition and possible cognitive overload. This paper compares visual attention distribution between subtitles and other sources of information through eye tracking and relates this to academic comprehension and cognitive load as measured through self-report questionnaires and EEG. The study provides promising results for the use of both first and second language subtitles in academic contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Eye Movement Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • subtitling
  • eye tracking
  • visual attention distribution
  • cognitive load
  • esotho first language (L1)
  • English second language (L2)


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