Those who dabble in learning a new language sometimes find that alcohol — in moderation — helps them speak more fluently. In a way, that makes sense: It’s been shown that a beer or a glass of wine can lower inhibitions, which may make it easier for some people to overcome nervousness or hesitation.
But on the other hand, alcohol has also been shown to impair cognitive and motor functions, negatively affect memory and attention, and lead to overconfidence and inflated self-evaluations. So do people really speak non-native languages better after drinking, or is that just their liquid courage talking?
To answer that question, British and Dutch researchers conducted an experiment, published this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. And it turns out, people in the study really did speak more fluently after a low dose of alcohol — even when they didn’t think so themselves.
The study included 50 native German speakers who were studying at Maastricht University, located in the Netherlands near the border with Germany. All of the people in the study said they drank alcohol at least sometimes, and, because their classes were taught in Dutch, had recently passed an exam demonstrating proficiency in the language.