Say What? Study Says Alcohol Improves Foreign Language Skills

CBS Local — If you’re looking to impress some friends by learning a new language, a new study says you may want to have a drink before showing off your new skills.

According to a multinational experiment, researchers in England and the Netherlands found that consuming a small amount of alcohol made it easier for someone to speak in another language. The study followed 50 German students studying abroad in the Netherlands and had them communicate with a native person in Dutch.

The researchers found that the students who had been given a dose of “Dutch courage” before the conversation scored better in the eyes of their Dutch partners. Although the drinkers themselves said they didn’t notice an improvement, their Dutch observers added that the drinkers’ pronunciation of their language was better compared to the students who had not been given alcohol. “One possible mechanism could be the anxiety-reducing effect of alcohol,” Dr. Jessica Werthmann of Maastricht University said in a press release.

The three colleges involved also added that alcohol’s ability to increase feelings of self-confidence could play a role in the improved language skills. The research team cautioned that the benefits were limited to small amounts of alcohol and that getting fully drunk won’t turn a novice into an experienced speaker. The students in this experiment were given roughly one pint of beer for every 150 pounds of body weight.

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