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- Alcohol has been shown to have positive and negative implications on our health and behaviour. However, as it turns out, a small amount of alcohol might give people confidence to speak another language better. However, the researchers stress that only a small dose had this effect, and lots of alcohol probably does the opposite.
Alcohol has its pros and cons. Some research has shown that drinking in moderation can be good for you, but the downsides are well reported. In fact, just being tipsy can negatively impact your children if you’re a parent.
However, a new study takes alcohol’s side, showing that a bit of dutch courage can be beneficial if you speak more than one language.
The research, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, investigated the idea is that alcohol improves our ability to speak in a foreign language.
Researchers tested how a low dose of alcohol could impact 50 German participants’ ability to speak in Dutch, which, as students at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, they had all recently learned to speak, read, and write in.
They were randomly assigned to either be given the equivalent of just under a pint’s worth of alcohol, or a placebo (no alcohol). They were then asked to speak Dutch. They were rated by two native Dutch speakers who did not know whether they had been given alcohol or not.
Those who had consumed alcohol were rated significantly higher by the native Dutch speakers, specifically on their pronunciation, compared to the other group. However, when asked to rate themselves, the German subjects didn’t rate themselves any better or worse based on the group they were in.
“Our study shows that acute alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language in people who recently learned that language,” said Dr Inge Kersbergen, one of the authors of the study from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society. “This provides some support for the lay belief (among bilingual speakers) that a low dose of alcohol can improve their ability to speak a second language.”
However, other researchers on the team, Fritz Renner and Jessica Werthmann, stressed that more research is needed, and that only a very low dose of alcohol was used in this study. After all, it is well known that higher amounts of alcohol impair cognitive and motor functions, such as the ability to remember, pay attention, and act appropriately.
“Higher levels of alcohol consumption might not have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language,” Renner added.