Ever wondered why you were suddenly able to draw on that high school French in bars while travelling around Europe, or why strangers would descend upon you hoping to practise their English?
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology has found that a bit of Dutch courage might be the key to boosting your ability to speak a second language.
Researchers tested 50 native German speakers who had just learned Dutch. Some were given a low dose of alcohol, and others a control beverage with no alcohol, and were asked to have a conversation in Dutch.
Their conversations were rated, and the speakers who were slightly inebriated received the better results - especially when it came to pronunciation.
Alcohol may impair your memory, making it harder to pay attention and recall facts, but on the other hand, it also boosts your self-confidence.
While the researchers, from University of Liverpool, Maastricht University, and King's College London, couldn't measure exactly how much influence alcohol had upon the results, it might play a major part in improving the confidence of the person speaking the second language.
"We need to be cautious about the implications of these results until we know more about what causes the observed results," said Dr. Jessica Werthmann of Maastricht University. "One possible mechanism could be the anxiety-reducing effect of alcohol. But more research is needed to test this."
However, researchers warned that consuming a greater amount of booze will not enhance your multilingual performance.
"It is important to point out that participants in this study consumed a low dose of alcohol," said Dr. Fritz Renner of Maastricht University, according to Science Daily. "Higher levels of alcohol consumption might not have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language."
Or presumably your native language, if you drink enough.
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