Alcohol can help you speak a foreign language more fluently, study shows
However speakers don’t notice improvements in their own abilities
By Park Si-soo
Do you feel uncomfortable and anxious when speaking a foreign language?
A study suggests drinking alcohol could be a solution — not just quelling nervousness but also helping you speak the language more fluently.
British and Dutch researchers published their finding this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. They found that people really did speak more fluently after a low dose of alcohol — even when the speakers did not think so themselves.
According to TIME magazine, the study included 50 native German speakers studying at Maastricht University.
All of the people in the study said they drank alcohol at least sometimes, and, because their classes were taught in Dutch, had recently passed an exam demonstrating proficiency in the language.
Each person was asked to have a casual, two-minute conversation with an interviewer in Dutch.
Before the chat, half of the respondents were given water to drink, while the other half were given an alcoholic beverage. The amount of alcohol varied based on the person’s weight, but for a 150-pound man, it was equivalent to just under a pint of beer.
The conversations were recorded and then scored by two native Dutch speakers who were not aware which people had drunk alcohol. The participants were also asked to rate their own performances, based on how fluently they felt they had spoken.
Unexpectedly, alcohol had no effect on the speakers’ self-ratings — those who had a drink were not any more confident or pleased with their performances than those who had drunk water.
But they did perform better, according to those who listened to the recordings. Overall, the native Dutch speakers rated people in the alcohol group as having better fluency — specifically better pronunciation — than those in the water group. Ratings for grammar, vocabulary and argumentation were similar between groups.
According to TIME, the authors point out that the dose of alcohol tested in the study was low, and that higher levels of consumption might not have these beneficial effects.
After all, the researchers point out, drinking too much can have the opposite effect on fluency and can even lead to slurred speech.