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Contrast and font affect reading speeds of adolescents with and without a need for language-based learning support

This pre-study investigates the effects of the font type and the contrast between the colour of the text and the colour of the background on the reading speed of readers a) with different age groups and b) with a different need for language-based learning support using state-of-the art eye-tracking technology. We determine no significant difference between participants who were or were not receiving learning support (special support with a specialist teacher) due to language-based reading disabilities when reading the font type Open Dyslexic. This suggests that this font increases the reading speed of participants who receive learning support for language-based learning disabilities. Comparison of the reading speed for different passages of text displayed in different colour combinations indicates that a contrast of light text on a dark background may improve reading ability and reading performance. Both of these findings have significant implications for foreign-language teaching.

KEYWORDS: eye-tracking, font type, colour contrast, reading speed, reading comprehension, learning support, language-based learning disabilities

Heiner Böttger. Full Professor of English Didactics and EFL at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany. Chairman of the Early Language Learning Advisory Board, founded in Munich. Present research mainly focuses on the preconditions for language learning and the role of memory within the language acquisition process. Explores how children develop communicative competences, which language strategies they use and when, the brain processes underlying language development and the jigsaw pieces for acquiring three or more languages. Author of over 150 papers on English didactics and language research.

Julia Dose. CSc in Education, Research Assistant at Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt. Explores characteristics of inclusive foreign language teaching for students with learning support. Research member of LEARLab with main focus on eyetracking and EEG studies. Since 2012, has taught Biology and German as a First and Second Language at different high schools. Was a member of the Learning Support Team at the Franconian International School implementing a German Inclusion Programme for students with special needs.

Tanja Müller. CSc in Education, Lecturer in English Didactics Dpt at the Catholic University of Eichstaett- Ingolstadt. Holds a degree in Sociology with focus on market and opinion research. Research interests cover early English language learning, socially fair educational programmes, testing and assessment in educational contexts, blended and e-learning approaches, distance learning. Since 2015, has been acting as an expert for the Brussels European Research Executive Agency in the Horizon 2020 framework.


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