Are stories just as transporting when not in your native tongue?

Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim*, Elena Cilento, Ewelina Piotrowska, Raymond A. Mar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We spend much of our time consuming stories across different types of media, often becoming deeply engaged or transported into these stories. However, there has been almost no research into whether processing a story in one's non-native language influences our level of transportation. We analyzed three existing datasets in order to compare engagement with English-language stories for those who reported English as their first language and those who reported English as their second language. Stories were presented as text (Study 1), audio (Study 2), and short films (Study 3). Across all studies, equivalent levels of narrative transportation between language groups were found, even after accounting for age and years of English fluency. These results are in contrast to some previous proposals that emotional reactions are attenuated during non-native language processing, despite equivalent levels of comprehension. Our evidence indicates that individuals processing a narrative in their second language feel just as transported into the story as those processing the same narrative in their native language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-309
Number of pages25
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • bilingualism
  • discourse
  • emotion
  • narrative transportation
  • second language processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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