Beer consumption helps with foreign languages

Written by on October 24, 2017 in Leisure - Comments Off on Beer consumption helps with foreign languages

A research experiment conducted by scientists at the University of Liverpool, the King’s College London and Maastricht University comes to a conclusion people living in foreign countries, so-called expatriates, might have been waiting for: Alcohol consumption actually helps people speak foreign languages better.

Of course this does not mean whoever intends to speak a foreign language should be hopelessly drunk. But it does mean that during conversations in a foreign language, a glass of beer might help to do so more successfully.

The scientists involved in the experiment wanted to see whether the popular belief, according to which alcohol does improve the ability to speak a foreign language, is just the usual crackerbarrel joke or actually accurate.

Fifty native German speakers, who had recently learned Dutch, were split into two groups. The members of the first group received drinks with a low dose of alcohol, while those who were part of the other group got non-alcoholic beverages. All participants took part in a discussion in Dutch with a so-called ‘blinded experimenter’, who did not know why exactly he or she was having that conversation.

Alcohol does actually help people with their foreign language skills.

Afterwards, observers who did not know about the nature of the experiment either, and the participants themselves, evaluated the language skills demonstrated during those conversations.

The outcome: Participants who had consumed alcoholic beverages got significantly better ratings for their language skills from the observers. Their Dutch seemed a lot better, in particular their pronunciation, compared to the participants who had consumed non-alcoholic drinks.

At the same time, alcohol proved to have absolutely no effect on the participants’ self-ratings of their Dutch language skills.

Officially, the conclusion of the experiment sounds like this: “Acute alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language in people who have recently learned that language.” Cheers.

The study was just published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology and can be accessed here.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com