If you’ve been learning to speak another language on Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, and it’s proved slower than you hoped, a little alcohol might boost your proficiency a few levels. This study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology claims to have found a link between moderate alcohol consumption and the ability to speak a foreign language more fluently.
The study observed 50 native German speakers, who were already fairly fluent in Dutch. Half were given a small dose of alcohol, while others were given none at all. Each was asked to have a two-minute conversation in Dutch with an interviewer, while native Dutch speakers watched and rated their fluency.
When asked afterward, the Germans did not believe the alcohol helped increase their fluency. However, the Dutch evaluators found that overall, those who had consumed alcohol spoke at a significantly higher level, especially when it came to word pronunciation.
Since there was no placebo used in the study, it’s unknown whether the effects of the alcohol were biological or psychological — but we all know that a little alcohol goes a long way toward boosting our confidence. It’s possible that the Germans who drank simply had more confidence than those who didn’t, and were therefore more likely to speak at a high level.
It’s safe to say, though, that alcohol can only take you so far. Don’t blame the Journal of Psychopharmacology when you’re nine whiskeys deep and wondering why you can’t even speak English, let alone Dutch.
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