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Emotional embodiment

People experience different emotions when reading in their first and second language.

When people read stories, they are often captivated by the emotional experiences of the characters, to the point that they begin to physically experience those emotions as well. This phenomenon is called embodiment and was documented by Francesco Foroni of the International School of Advanced Studies in Italy in 2009.

The theory of embodiment is valid in the mother tongue; however, a study by Foroni showed that it breaks down in acquired languages.

His hypothesis is that this is because, in first language acquisition, people tend to learn emotional language while experiencing the corresponding emotions. In contrast, adults tend to acquire second languages in more sterilized environments, such as classrooms, where they do not have the opportunity to experience the emotions while learning the vocabulary that describes them.

From this research we conclude that learning a language in context creates a deeper emotional connection.

The cognitive capacities of our brain are impressive and the environment in which we develop will allow us to manifest the maximum performance of these.


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