Q: Is it true that drinking wine could help me learn a foreign language?
—Michael, Los Angeles
A: It might seem counterintuitive that alcohol—notorious for impairing memory, motor and cognitive functions—would be helpful with mastering a second language. But booze is also known to boost confidence and lower inhibitions, thus providing the push one might need to overcome nerves and show off linguistic abilities.
A 2017 study from Europe found that a small amount of alcohol—about one drink—may actually improve foreign-language skills. Researchers recruited 50 native German speakers, each of whom had recently passed a Dutch language exam. Participants were asked to hold a two-minute, recorded conversation in Dutch with an interviewer. Before the chat, half the participants were given some water to drink, while the others were given one alcoholic beverage. Those that had consumed alcohol performed "significantly better" than the control group, especially when it came to pronunciation. The study's authors speculate that alcohol's tension-reducing properties may help alleviate language anxiety, which is associated with feelings of unease and apprehension when learning or using another language.