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Drinking alcohol can make you better at languages


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It is well-established that alcohol impairs cognitive function but a new study has found that a swift drink could actually help improve your foreign language skills.

The study looked at whether Dutch courage would boost people’s ability to speak a second language – or whether it would turn their words into Double Dutch.

It looked at 50 native German speakers who were studying at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and had recently picked up the local language.

The group were given either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink and then held a conversation in their non-native language.

Dutch courage foreign language skills research
(Philip Toscano/PA)

Researchers found those who were slightly intoxicated had better pronunciation than their sober colleagues.

Dr Inge Kersbergen, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, who was involved in the study, said: “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.

“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.”

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While a couple of drinks might improve your fluency, the effect wears off if you have one too many.

Dr Fritz Renner, who was one of the researchers who conducted the study at Maastricht University, said: “It is important to point out that participants in this study consumed a low dose of alcohol.

“Higher levels of alcohol consumption might not have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language.”

The research is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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