The Connection Between Booze and Language Learning
FINALLY here’s some news we all wanted to hear! Alcohol really can make you better at learning a foreign language. I mean, it really does make sense. Have you ever experienced being in a Parisian restaurant, attempting to practice your French, only to be stared down by a snooty waiter? All of the sudden, your tongue turns to mush and café and caca start to sound the same. Fear of messing up or sounding silly makes us stutter and hesitate, mix up our verb tenses, and flub our pronunciation. According to studies, alcohol can lower your inhibitions enough that you feel more comfortable making mistakes, which makes you less tongue-tied in the first place.
In a study, college English speakers were asked to perform a pronunciation test in Thai, a language in which they had no previous experience speaking, after drinking various amounts of alcohol. Those who drank 1.5 ounces of alcohol performed better on the pronunciation test than those who had drunk an alcohol-free placebo. 1.5 ounces of alcohol relaxed the subjects’ egos enough to not feel silly when pronouncing the sounds of a language very different from English. But those subjects who drank 1.5 ounces of alcohol also performed better than those who had consumed 2 and 3 ounce drinks. Everything in moderation, ladies and gentleman.
This doesn’t mean you should go to the nearest liquor store and purchase a personal of bourbon and a flask. What it comes down to is, a little bit of anxiety can drastically affect your ability to “perform” your language. Developing strategies to lower anxiety and raise self-esteem, like relaxation activities, listening to music, watching funny videos, or keeping a journal, can help improve confidence when learning a language.
Another useful tip is to practice those potentially nerve-racking scenarios, over and over… and over again. Surround yourself with positive language-learners that you can bounce positive energy off of and that can support your desire to learn. A sense of humor and a positive outlook are key traits for any language learner.