Struggling To Better Speak A Foreign Language? Help Is Just A Sip Away.

What science has to say about the way you speak.

There's no telling if it causes a certain biological reaction or it's just "liquid courage," but alcohol actually improves foreign language skills. At least, that's what a group of British and Dutch researchers discovered in a study recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology

In the experiment, the researchers studied the effect of a low dose of alcohol on the Dutch-speaking skills of a group of 50 native German speakers studying at Maastricht University, a school located in the Netherlands near the German border. The school's classes are taught in Dutch, and these 50 students had recently passed a Dutch proficiency exam.

Half the students were given water, and the other half were given alcohol, and then each student had a two-minute chat with an interviewer in Dutch. Then the researchers asked the students to evaluate their own performance, and both groups scored themselves equally. 

But here's where it gets interesting: Two native Dutch speakers, unaware of which group was which, rated all 50 students' performance. And they gave higher marks to the students who were a bit inebriated, especially in regards to their pronunciation.

These results mirror those of a 1972 study that showed small doses of alcohol improved Americans' pronunciation of Thai words. Now this group of British and Dutch researchers wants to know whether the effect is a biological one or a psychological one.

And don't go thinking that getting drunk will turn you into a veritable Rosetta Stone. Drinking too much, the researchers warn, reduces language fluency, especially because your speech gets slurred. Chalk it up as yet another reason to drink responsibly.

Cover photo via Robert Mathews / Unsplash

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