Beer enhances ability to speak foreign language: study

A study has found that drinking a pint of beer may boost foreign language skills.

According to researchers it is well known that alcohol impairs cognitive, motor functions and mental functions, including the ability to remember, pay attention and inhibit inappropriate behaviours.

Executive functions are also important when speaking a second, non-native language, so alcohol would be expected to reduce the ability to speak a second language.

However, the findings showed that alcohol increases self-confidence and reduces social anxiety, both of which might be expected to improve language ability when interacting with another person.

"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," said Inge Kersbergen, from the University of Liverpool, IANS reported.

"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," Kersbergen added.

In the study, the team tested the effects of a low dose of alcohol - just under a pint (460ml) of 5 per cent beer, on participants' self-rated and observer-rated ability to converse in Dutch.

The researchers noted that participants who had consumed alcohol had significantly better observer-ratings for their Dutch language, especially pronunciation, compared to those who had not consumed alcohol.

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 randomised to consume either a low dose of alcohol or a control non-alcoholic beverage, before they chatted with an experimenter in Dutch for a few minutes.

The exact dose of alcohol varied depending on the body weight of participants, but was equivalent to just under a pint (460ml) of 5 per cent beer, for a 70kg male.

The chat was audio-recorded and participants' foreign language skills were then rated by two native Dutch speakers who did not know if the participant had consumed alcohol or not.

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, ANI reported."