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Alcohol improves foreign language skills

Alcohol improves foreign language skills

Alcohol improves a person's foreign language skills.

A study conducted by University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London found that those who spoke two languages became more fluent in their second language with a bit of Dutch courage.

Writing in an introduction to their study, they said: "The researchers tested the effects of a low dose of alcohol on participants' self-rated and observer-rated ability to converse in Dutch. Participants were 50 native German speakers who were studying at a Dutch University (Maastricht) and had recently learned to speak, read and write in Dutch.

"Participants were randomized to consume either a low dose of alcohol or a control beverage that contained no alcohol, before they chatted with an experimenter in Dutch for a few minutes. The exact dose of alcohol varied depending on participants' body weight, but it was equivalent to just under a pint (460ml) of 5% beer, for a 70kg male.

"The chat was audio-recorded and participants' foreign language skills were subsequently rated by two native Dutch speakers who did not know if the participant had consumed alcohol or not (observer-ratings). Participants also rated their own Dutch language skills during the conversation (self-ratings).The researchers found that participants who had consumed alcohol had significantly better observer-ratings for their Dutch language, specifically better pronunciation, compared to those who had not consumed alcohol. However, alcohol had no effect on self-ratings of Dutch language skills."

However, the study also found that the alcohol helped people who recently learned that language to speak it better.

Dr Inge Kersbergen, from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, added: "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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