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This eye-tracking study establishes basic benchmarks of eye movements during reading in heritage language (HL) by Russian-speaking adults and adolescents of high (n = 21) and low proficiency (n = 27). Heritage speakers (HSs) read sentences in Cyrillic, and their eye movements were compared to those of Russian monolingual skilled adult readers, 8-yearold children and L2 learners. Reading patterns of HSs revealed longer mean fixation durations, lower skipping probabilities, and higher regressive saccade rates than in monolingual adults. High-proficient HSs were more similar to monolingual children, while low-proficient HSs performed on par with L2 learners. Low-proficient HSs differed from high-proficient HSs in exhibiting lower skipping probabilities, higher fixation counts, and larger frequency effects. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the weaker links account of bilingual language processing as well as the divergent attainment theory of HL.


This work was originally published in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, available at



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