How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Foreign Language Skills?

Research suggests that drinking a small amount of alcohol can improve foreign language pronunciation, though not vocabulary or grammar.
Research suggests that drinking a small amount of alcohol can improve foreign language pronunciation, though not vocabulary or grammar.

Drinking alcohol might make you say some silly stuff, but it also appears to be something of a primer when it comes to foreign language pronunciation. It's not just the beer talking: In 2017, British and Dutch researchers determined that a group of German speakers studying Dutch were more eloquent after imbibing a small amount of alcohol -- even if they didn't realize it.

The alcohol didn't affect confidence levels, nor did it make the study group any happier about how they had performed. The researchers speculated that the alcohol might have reduced language anxiety levels, thus allowing the students to be more relaxed when speaking Dutch. They further explained that the study couldn't determine whether the effects were biological or psychological, or both.

"Future research on this topic should include an alcohol placebo condition to disentangle the relative impact of pharmacological vs. expectancy effects," the authors wrote in their summary.

We'll drink to that:

  • Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption might reduce a person's risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  • However,the purported benefits of alcohol are limited to about one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men.

  • People who drink moderately are more likely to engage in regular exercise than those who don't drink at all.

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    • Research suggests that drinking a small amount of alcohol can improve foreign language pronunciation, though not vocabulary or grammar.
      Research suggests that drinking a small amount of alcohol can improve foreign language pronunciation, though not vocabulary or grammar.