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Turns Out, Having A Few Drinks Does Improve Your Foreign Language Skills

Turns Out, Having A Few Drinks Does Improve Your Foreign Language Skills

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We’ve all had a few drinks and suddenly thought that this moment is the precise time to whip out those rusty foreign language skills from year seven. “Oh, you’re French?” we say nonchalantly to the unimpressed barperson. “Well actually, je parle français!”

Turns out, our mastery of foreign languages while a few in may not be entirely in our heads. According to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, drinking alcohol can actually improve your foreign language skills.


In the study, researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University, and King’s College London gathered 50 German people who had recently learned to speak Dutch. They were then either given a low dose of alcohol or a control beverage with no alcohol, and were asked to have a conversation in Dutch for a few minutes.

Their abilities were then graded by two native Dutch speakers who were unaware which participants had been given alcohol. The results showed that those who were slightly buzzed were better at speaking Dutch than their sober counterparts, particularly when it came to pronunciation.

It seems unusual, given alcohol is known to reduce cognitive functions like the ability to stay focused and recall facts (or where we put our phone!). But the researchers’ hypothesis is that the alcohol helped to reduce social anxiety and improve confidence, meaning the participants were more willing to test out their Dutch in conversation. Hey, they call it Dutch courage for a reason.

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The researchers were quick to point out that only a low amount of alcohol was used in the testing and that they can’t say the same would happen when you’re a few more drinks deep. However, if you’re ever in a foreign country and ever want to remember how to ask where the discoteca is, having a couple of bevvies might just help jog your memory.

(Lead image: Elevate / Pexels)

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