Science Proves It: Alcohol Helps You Speak A Foreign Language Better

We’re sure you’ve encountered this: friends who end up drinking a little more suddenly speak in straight English as if they’ve been doing it their entire lives. Maybe that could even be you, to the ridicule of your other friends! But why is that for some non-native English speakers, they suddenly turn into “spokening dollars” with a little help from our old friend San Miguel?

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Well, science has it figured out — sort of! British and Dutch researchers conducted an experiment that was recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Their findings? People in the study really did speak more fluently after a low dose of alcohol, even when they weren’t convinced, themselves!

The study featured 50 native German speakers who took classes taught in Dutch, and had a working proficiency with the language.

According to TIME Magazine:

Each person was asked to have a casual, two-minute conversation with an interviewer in Dutch. Before that chat, half were given water to drink, while the other half were given an alcoholic beverage. The amount of booze 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 weren’t aware which people had consumed alcohol. The participants were also asked to self-score their own performances, based on how fluently they felt they’d spoken.

In the self-ratings, as expected, the participants did not rank themselves lower or higher based on the alcohol’s effect. They felt as if the alcohol did not really contribute to their performance.

However, native Dutch speakers who listened to the recordings did rate the subjects in the alcohol group with higher fluency, specifically with pronunciation.

While it wasn’t made clear whether the alcohol had caused a placebo effect since the participants were aware they were drinking, it did establish that there was a causal effect between alcohol and foreign language fluency.

This study may be something to slap in your friend’s face with the next time they make fun of you for speaking English while a little tipsy!

Thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!