Drinking Alcohol Makes You Speak Foreign Languages Better, Science Says

Being bilingual, trilingual, or better is an amazing thing. After all, languages open the gateway to connect to people from completely different countries and walks of life and it’s definitely a worthwhile skill. However, if you struggle with your español or can’t seem to remember anything besides “bonjour” from your high school French class, maybe having a drink will help?

  1. Alcohol can help you speak other languages better. Yep, you read that right. Having a few drinks, whether of beer, wine, or even hard liquor, can up your linguistic skills and help increase your fluency, according to a study published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.
  2. Researchers put this theory to the test and it worked. British and German researchers did a study on 50 native German speakers studying at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. All of them took Dutch classes and were considered fluent in the language. To test their skills, they split the students in half, giving one side water to drink and the other alcohol, then having all of the students engage in a recorded conversation in Dutch, which were then rated by native Dutch speakers. Those speakers rated the students who drank alcohol much higher on their language skills. Who knew?
  3. There are a few caveats, of course… This study doesn’t imply that you should go out and get hammered and expect to be fluent in Japanese tomorrow. You’ll need to have a base level of fluency in a given language to start with — don’t expect to suddenly know a language you’ve never learned in the past. Plus, it’s worth noting that this was a controlled study that measured language skills in one particular language, Dutch. This could change if other languages were tested.
  4. You shouldn’t get hammered. In the study, the participants only had a small amount of alcohol — they weren’t pounding shots or hammering a six-pack of beer. In fact, drinking TOO much can have the opposite effect, making you even worse at speaking your own language, let alone another one.
  5. The effect is limited to pronunciation and fluency but not grammar and vocabulary. That means you might sound a bit more like a native speaker if you’ve had a bit to drink, but you won’t suddenly know how to conjugate difficult verbs or know words you’ve never heard before, which makes sense. Alcohol isn’t magic, after all, even if it feels like it sometimes!
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