Jessica Booth
December 27, 2017 10:34 am
Fox

Alcohol isn’t necessarily known for making us more productive. But surprising new research finds that alcohol may make speaking a foreign language easier, and we’re intrigued…

The study, conducted by British and Dutch researchers, discovered that people spoke more fluently after  consuming a small amount of alcohol, even if they weren’t aware their speech patterns had changed. The study looked at 50 native German speakers who attended a school in the Netherlands and who had all recently passed exams that proved they were proficient in speaking and understanding Dutch.

During the research, half of the native German speakers were given water to drink, and the other half were given a small amount of alcohol. They then had a two-minute conversations with a Dutch interviewer in Dutch. The interviewers were not aware of who drank which substance, but scored each conversation in terms of fluency.

In the end, researchers found that the interviewers rated those who drank alcohol as speaking Dutch more fluently than those who drank water. The difference was the most significant when it came to pronunciation (ratings for grammar, vocabulary, and argumentation were pretty similar). As for the ratings from the speakers themselves? The participants who drank alcohol didn’t feel like they had done any better at all.

While this research might sound strange at first, it actually makes sense. Alcohol tends to make us less self-conscious, which could potentially give us more self-confidence when speaking a foreign language.

Of course, there are some important things to note here. One is that the participants drank a small amount of alcohol. Researchers said they believe that higher levels of alcohol wouldn’t have helped, and in fact, probably would have made the levels of fluency worse.

It’s also hard to know if these results were based on a placebo effect. Since all the participants knew whether they were drinking alcohol or not, they could have been experiencing the psychological effects of alcohol rather than the biological ones. The authors pointed out that future research should include an “alcohol placebo condition” (aka, something that tastes like alcohol, but is actually non-alcoholic) to really be sure of the results.

Still, we’re definitely keeping this in mind the next time we try to whip out our high school French at parties!

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