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Eye Scanner Can Tell If You've Mastered a Foreign Language

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By monitoring the unconscious eye movements of someone as they read, an algorithm is able to work out how proficient they are.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have written an algorithm that assesses a person's unconscious eye movements as they read, as a means of measuring their proficiency in a foreign language.

Credit: Chris Raven/EyeEm/Getty Images

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have written an algorithm that monitors a person's unconscious eye movements as they read, to assess their proficiency in a foreign language.

Yevgeni Berzak and his team used an eye tracker mounted on a desktop to evaluate the competency of English language students.

Using factors such as how long a person's gaze remained on a word, the team compared foreign language students to native speakers who performed the same exercise. An algorithm then estimated the participants' language proficiency score based on eye-tracking data, comparing the results to scores on two standardized language tests. The results show a strong correlation between eye movements and reading proficiency.

As a next step, the researchers are building a tool to determine a person's abilities while they are reading online, which could serve as the basis for creating personalized online learning tools that modify text to match skill level.

From New Scientist
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