Munich's Oktoberfest draws to an end and along with it two weeks of beer-fuelled cross cultural bonding. This year 6.3 million tourists visited the city to try on Lederhosen, Dirndl and practice a few German phrases.

But after the beer has been flowing, the phrase books lie abandoned. Just a couple of drinks deep the visitors are convinced their foreign language skills have improved.

A new study suggests they might be right.

According to the research published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, alcohol really does improve our foreign language skills.


To do this the researchers from the UK and in Holland created their own bilingual beer fest.

The study conducted by the University of Liverpool, King's College London and Maastricht University in the Netherlands collected 50 native German speakers.

These German students, who had recently learned to speak Dutch in Maastricht, were given sample doses of alcohol and a zero-alcohol control beverage.

They were then given a chance to converse in Dutch, which was rated by native speakers.
Those who received alcohol were rated as better speakers, particularly where it came to pronunciation.

So it shows that a glass or two can help your foreign language skills to shine.

However, don't get carried away. Dr Fritz Renner, one of the researchers told Science Daily that "Higher levels of alcohol consumption might not have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language." Just the right amount might be the soupcon you need to overcome second-language social awkwardness.

But why does booze help? It certainly doesn't help with any other high-level cognitive functions, like driving a car or making life decisions.

"We need to be cautious about the implications of these results," said Dr. Jessica Werthmann of Maastricht, but she did suggest that "One possible mechanism could be the anxiety-reducing effect of alcohol."


If nothing else it lends new scientific credibility to the term "Dutch courage".