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Does drinking help you speak a foreign language?

| 167 comments | Category: learning languages, positive mentality

drinking

So here I am, a lad from Ireland (a country famous for its drink and its drinkers) in the Czech Republic (ditto).

The nightlife in Prague is great, but of course a lot of party-goers take advantage of the cheap beer! From the armies of 3-day tourists to the local 20-somethings, and of course to the expats. I have been lucky enough to be able to start socialising with some Czechs, although there have been some expats in the group too. None of them were English speakers, since I tend to avoid them (these were actually Portuguese, French etc. speakers).

I saw something interesting in how the other expats dealt with attempts to speak the language that I’d like to share and hear your thoughts on! They drank to have the confidence to be able to speak in Czech, as many other language learners that I’ve met do too. But before I get into that, I have a secret to confess!! Maybe I shouldn’t even be writing an article like this at all because…

I don’t drink!!

Nothing – zilch. No beer, no whisky, no vodka, no rum, no Irish coffee. I tasted beer once out of curiosity and found it revolting. I’d drink wine or champagne, but only when the social situation demands it, and never more than a single glass. No amount of peer pressure (and I’ve gotten lots!!) has ever convinced me to start drinking, and I honestly believe that the main reason that a lot of people start drinking is simply because of cultural norms and peer pressure; they can’t imagine going out to a pub or nightclub and not drink because everyone else is drinking! It would just be “weird”.

Rather than bore you with why I think it’s not healthy (including the famous glass of wine), why simply not drinking despite going out a lot has saved me heaps of money and thus helped me travel the world and have fun that I can remember the next day, and how much I adore not waking up with a hangover (I imagine it’s annoying; I wouldn’t know :P ), and the many many other reasons, I thought I’d give you my unique perspective on the common belief that drinking helps you speak a foreign language.

The illusion that beer creates

When people ask me why I don’t drink, instead of going down the path of a very boring conversation I don’t want to have (again) in a nightclub when I’d rather be dancing, I remind them of the Asterix comic strip; Asterix drinks a magic potion that gives him superhuman strength and he drinks it specifically when he needs to fight off the Romans or generally save the day. But Asterix’s sidekick Obelix fell into the cauldron full of the magic potion as a boy, and so he’s actually always strong and never needs to drink the potion.

This may just be a comic book, but the metaphor works for me; I’m Obelix! (Well, a little slimer!) I go out plenty, but I’ve never needed to drink to be able to enjoy myself. I’m always the first person to sing at karaokes and the first person on the dance floor, and I love talking to as many people as possible when I’m out. Based on this, and all of the many negative possibilities from drinking, you will have a hard time convincing me to try it; I just don’t see why I would need it.

And this is true for many people; there are plenty of very social people that could very easily be more relaxed and sociable if they just tried instead of waiting for beer’s permission to do so. Sorry for the big rant, but this is all leading up to the crucial point of people believing that they speak a foreign language better when they are drunk.

I honestly think it’s nothing more than an illusion. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, since I’m (obviously) purely speculating, but from my perspective getting drunk “helps” people speak a language for the following reasons and others similar to them:

  • They don’t actually speak it better, but think that they do.
  • They lose their inhibitions and feel more confident and less worried about making mistakes.
  • They stop thinking so much and just speak, without hesitating to search for the “right” word
  • They are usually shy, but suddenly become extrovert thanks to the alcohol

All of this can be done without drinking

Even if I’m completely wrong, and beer does actually help you speak a foreign language, it still has the big problem of it only being effective when you actually drink. You would then need to drink a lot and every day to be able to keep conversing; in that case you have much bigger problems in your life than just learning a language!!

Why should you wait for the small amount of hours a week that you are in a pub or knocking back some beers somewhere? Why not have all of these abilities all week long? :) Be Obelix!! Each of the points above and any others can easily be achieved when sober.

CONFIDENCE

Why do you need alcohol to achieve this?

In terms of language confidence, learning to ignore unhelpful negative criticism and remembering the compliments will make you feel that your level is quite high. I’m sure many people could tell me that my Czech is currently horrible, but I create situations where the results can only be positive such as acutally downplaying my level. I have found that starting by apologising for how bad my Czech is since I’ve only been learning it for 6 weeks (and apologising in pretty good Czech) almost always works as a method of fishing for compliments with someone telling me that it’s great how much I’ve learned in a short time and how they are amazed at how well I’m communicating.

Throwing in some slang words also helps as a break for them used to listening to the formal language from foreigners, and this almost always gets a good laugh or some form of a pat on the back. Getting compliments like this is a great external booster, and you should create situations where people will be positively reinforcing your progress.

I’ll admit that without this encouragement, I would find it very difficult to progress in a language. Otherwise, for general confidence go read self-help books or talk to your friends about it! If it is a psychological problem, then it has a psychological solution.

MISTAKES

If you make mistakes, who cares?!! The other expats I was with definitely know more Czech than I do (I kept asking them how to say particular words, or how a particular case declension was for some word and they knew), and yet for the early part of the night they would either speak English to the Czechs (even though English isn’t their native language), or simply not speak at all.

They waited until they had drunk enough so that they would be “ready” to speak. On the other hand, I was speaking non stop with an incredible amount of mistakes (I doubt I said a single sentence correctly all night), but I was communicating. I got to tell them about myself and learn about them, hear some jokes, make plans for the night etc.

Let me repeat that word; communicating.

This is what language is all about, not a list of grammar rules. If you wait until you don’t make any mistakes you will probably never speak, because you have to practise to iron out those mistakes. While I talked, they occasionally corrected my more serious mistakes and I learned a lot! When I’m ready, I’ll ask that they correct me more, but right now I’m focussing on communicating as best as I can.

My placebo of choice: Orange Juice!

It is definitely true that alcohol has a physical effect that can alter your state of mind, but at the end of the day it’s still a state of mind. Sometimes the alcohol may even just be acting as a placebo if you are naturally confident and extrovert.

What I do, is pick a nice healthy placebo! When I order my drink I look the barman in the eye and very seriously request his finest pint of OJ… on the rocks! I will very readily act silly, and talk about ridiculous things, maybe flirt a bit or get myself into some trouble and blame it all on the orange juice. If I’m dancing really badly then I can just use the excuse that I’ve had way too much OJ tonight! I have even been known to pour some OJ into shot glasses and knock it back and gasp a big Aaaah afterwards.

In fact, I’ve decided to add an option to this site for my readers to treat me to an orange juice! So if you’ve enjoyed any of my articles (not necessarily this one), or if my suggestions have helped you with your language learning progress, why not thank me by helping me have another one of my crazy nights out on the town? :P I’m not rich yet unfortunately, so an extra even tiny financial boost would always be appreciated :)

Am I mistaken in what I think about drinking and how you can achieve the same results sober? I have never tried getting drunk after all, so who am I to make such claims! Prove me wrong in the comments, or share your drunken language learning stories! Maybe someone can educate me about what I’m “actually” missing out on :) Of course, if you agree with me, I’d also love to hear that :D !

Cheers!

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  • jay

    Hi Benny

    I admire how you’ve achieved fluency so quickly in other languages.Do you use specific language products such as assimil or teach yourself to get youself started?

    Also, I’ve seen on the web courses where they insist on listening and not even to attempt to talk in the foreign language for quite some time. What do you think of this and have you incorporated this into your way of learning?

    Cheers!

    Jay

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Hi Jay! I appreciate your comment, but if it isn’t related to the post itself, then you can actually contact me directly in the link at the top of the site ;)
      I don’t use any specific language products. No CDs, no expensive courses etc. I’m sharing all my learning methods on this site. I usually buy a pretty good (based on reviews) grammar book and vocabulary book and get a few private lessons if I can afford it. Very soon I abandon it all and speak as much as possible as I’ve discussed in other posts.
      Web courses telling you not to attempt speaking are bogus and I 100% disagree with that. See this post for an example of how I was speaking the first day I started learning Czech. I also recommend starting to learn a language with a phrasebook rather than a course.

  • jay

    Hi Benny

    I admire how you’ve achieved fluency so quickly in other languages.Do you use specific language products such as assimil or teach yourself to get youself started?

    Also, I’ve seen on the web courses where they insist on listening and not even to attempt to talk in the foreign language for quite some time. What do you think of this and have you incorporated this into your way of learning?

    Cheers!

    Jay

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Hi Jay! I appreciate your comment, but if it isn’t related to the post itself, then you can actually contact me directly in the link at the top of the site ;)
      I don’t use any specific language products. No CDs, no expensive courses etc. I’m sharing all my learning methods on this site. I usually buy a pretty good (based on reviews) grammar book and vocabulary book and get a few private lessons if I can afford it. Very soon I abandon it all and speak as much as possible as I’ve discussed in other posts.
      Web courses telling you not to attempt speaking are bogus and I 100% disagree with that. See this post for an example of how I was speaking the first day I started learning Czech. I also recommend starting to learn a language with a phrasebook rather than a course.

  • Dale

    I wouldn’t think of trying to persuade you to drink. I’ve felt very strongly for a couple of decades now that what a person eats and drinks is a very personal decision and that it is extremely important for it to remain that way.

    I find your approach to language learning very interesting. You emphasize one aspect, which is using the language and communicating. As you keep pointing out, at least indirectly, learning a language in the real world is completely unlike learning it in a classroom setting. You are not receiving a grade and being penalized irrevocably for mistakes. You are trying to use a language that is new to you to talk to people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to talk to. That is a profoundly optimistic point of view. Every partial success is a success, not a partial failure.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks Dale!! I wish everyone thought like that. I always expect people to force their opinions on me that life without drink is impossible. A lot of places I’ve travelled to don’t have people with an open mind to attending social events without a glass of something in your hand. It’s disappointing, but luckily in being very social most people just presume I’ve already had a couple of drinks and they don’t bother me about it. I avoid the discussion whenever possible, but in this case was curious to hear my readers’ views!
      You are totally right; learning the language in the real world is nothing like in classrooms. I’ll be repeating this concept in various forms over and over again until I drill it into people reading this blog who may not get it yet :P
      I love your last quote, I’ll have to use it in a post some time :D The glass is always half-full when it comes to learning languages ;)

      • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

        I’ve gone through my entire language-learning career as both a non-drinker and a vegan, so if you think dealing with not drinking is a challenge, you’ll be unsurprised to find out that in each language I learn very early on how to say things like, “No, sorry, chicken is not vegan, even if it’s only a little bit.”

  • Dale

    I wouldn’t think of trying to persuade you to drink. I’ve felt very strongly for a couple of decades now that what a person eats and drinks is a very personal decision and that it is extremely important for it to remain that way.

    I find your approach to language learning very interesting. You emphasize one aspect, which is using the language and communicating. As you keep pointing out, at least indirectly, learning a language in the real world is completely unlike learning it in a classroom setting. You are not receiving a grade and being penalized irrevocably for mistakes. You are trying to use a language that is new to you to talk to people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to talk to. That is a profoundly optimistic point of view. Every partial success is a success, not a partial failure.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks Dale!! I wish everyone thought like that. I always expect people to force their opinions on me that life without drink is impossible. A lot of places I’ve travelled to don’t have people with an open mind to attending social events without a glass of something in your hand. It’s disappointing, but luckily in being very social most people just presume I’ve already had a couple of drinks and they don’t bother me about it. I avoid the discussion whenever possible, but in this case was curious to hear my readers’ views!
      You are totally right; learning the language in the real world is nothing like in classrooms. I’ll be repeating this concept in various forms over and over again until I drill it into people reading this blog who may not get it yet :P
      I love your last quote, I’ll have to use it in a post some time :D The glass is always half-full when it comes to learning languages ;)

  • http://www.radioclare.com/ Radio

    Hmmm. I’m afraid I don’t really agree with you on this one. That is to say, because I’m a very shy person and don’t like talking to people in English, never mind in foreign languages, I generally find that a glass of wine works wonders in helping me have conversations. I’d rather go to bed rather than sit in the trinkejo sober – there wouldn’t be any point me being there, because I wouldn’t have the confidence to socialise in Esperanto.

    So long as you know your limits, I think it’s okay – I normally stop after a certain number of glasses, and have only had one hangover in my life (that was unpleasant enough for me never to want another one!). Of course, too much alcohol is counter-productive, and when I get a bit too drunk, my brain seems to have problems distinguishing between my different foreign languages; there was one night at the IJK when I was so drunk I temporarily couldn’t remember any Esperanto and started speaking in German instead. Luckily to a German Esperantist…

    It’s really cool that you’re confident enough to do all the stuff you do without alcohol, but for those of us who are more socially awkward, the solution is more complicated than just reading a self-help book :(
    .-= Radio´s last blog ..Five minutes of fame! =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      I can see where you’re coming from Clare ;)
      However, I am not actually “naturally” confident, extrovert and non-socially-awkward. Just like with learning languages, this is something that I’ve developed in recent years. In university I was the guy in the corner pretending to send a text message…
      Travelling alone all of this time has made being sociable a necessity for me. It was either that or have no friends ever. It can be learned with the likes of self-help books, and advice from those who know what they are talking about, and of course practise. If we rely on the same small circle of friends we don’t have the motivation to try to make new ones. I don’t believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks for any talent; languages, social skills etc. ;)
      The only problem is that like I said in my post about speaking just English, there is a very tough and potentially lonely learning period to go through. I’m glad I went through that period rather than just drinking to be social.
      It can be learned ;)
      Anyway, my point wasn’t to try to convert the world to be sober. Just sharing my thoughts and curious to hear others’. If drinking a wee bit of wine works for you as long as you don’t overdo it, and as long as you’re happy with that then there’s no need to change it. As Dale said above, these kinds of things are personal decisions and we shouldn’t necessarily try to change people’s way of living.
      In summary, I mostly agree with your disagreement :D Thanks for the contribution!! :)

      • http://aeronode.tumblr.com james

        All right, you’ve acquired extroversion after growing up rather reticent. But you can’t deny that you’re white and actually decent looking which has a HUGE effect on how people respond to you, backed by numerous studies I’m too lazy to cite. Your photos alone would convince 95% of people that you’re extroverted without even interacting with you.

        There are handsome guys utterly inept with women. Then they learn just a bit about confidence and communication, and become Don Juans almost overnight. Sure, there’s learning involved, but it’s life on easy mode because he was born with an advantage that keeps him floating above water no matter what. There’s a much larger social safety net for someone who is not ugly, than for someone who is. Meanwhile, the hideous dude must put in his 110%, AAAAA-game at being witty, confident, interesting etc. because he’s got to overcome his appearance handicap. That’s just how looks are considered today by the vast majority of people during social and professional situations, that you have disregarded.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

          Now you’re using good looks or lack thereof as an excuse to drink?? Or the colour of my skin? Bloody hell, desperate people are incredible…

          I’m average looking. This argument is void.

        • http://twitter.com/sheriseology Sherise Alexis

          This is silly, I know some less than attractive people (imposing-looking black people too if you want to put race in there) who grew up introverted and overcame their hang ups. They could befriend various backgrounds and ages.

          Don Juans overnight? Are you honestly trying to make conversation with people. Or fulfill a 24/7 mission to find a girlfriend? (This is not a PUA site, btw.) 
          Walk before you run. Simple conversation before “Don Juan-tion”.Yipes.On the subject of simply trying to make friend as a shy person, it’s all about attitude. 

          I used to be really shy, but then I challenged myself. I think the first time I decided to not be shy was going up to 2 girls in my college tour and flat-out saying “well, I don’t know anyone here, can I walk with you guys.” I still cringe at the bluntness and awkwardness of that, but at least I made a decision to not be a wallflower.After that my formula was comment on something in common, or something interesting about them and spark conversation, from there.

          It works pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still intimidated by groups, and I tend to approach individuals at a time, but doing something is far more productive than making excuses.

  • http://www.radioclare.com Radio

    Hmmm. I’m afraid I don’t really agree with you on this one. That is to say, because I’m a very shy person and don’t like talking to people in English, never mind in foreign languages, I generally find that a glass of wine works wonders in helping me have conversations. I’d rather go to bed rather than sit in the trinkejo sober – there wouldn’t be any point me being there, because I wouldn’t have the confidence to socialise in Esperanto.

    So long as you know your limits, I think it’s okay – I normally stop after a certain number of glasses, and have only had one hangover in my life (that was unpleasant enough for me never to want another one!). Of course, too much alcohol is counter-productive, and when I get a bit too drunk, my brain seems to have problems distinguishing between my different foreign languages; there was one night at the IJK when I was so drunk I temporarily couldn’t remember any Esperanto and started speaking in German instead. Luckily to a German Esperantist…

    It’s really cool that you’re confident enough to do all the stuff you do without alcohol, but for those of us who are more socially awkward, the solution is more complicated than just reading a self-help book :(
    .-= Radio´s last blog ..Five minutes of fame! =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      I can see where you’re coming from Clare ;)
      However, I am not actually “naturally” confident, extrovert and non-socially-awkward. Just like with learning languages, this is something that I’ve developed in recent years. In university I was the guy in the corner pretending to send a text message…
      Travelling alone all of this time has made being sociable a necessity for me. It was either that or have no friends ever. It can be learned with the likes of self-help books, and advice from those who know what they are talking about, and of course practise. If we rely on the same small circle of friends we don’t have the motivation to try to make new ones. I don’t believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks for any talent; languages, social skills etc. ;)
      The only problem is that like I said in my post about speaking just English, there is a very tough and potentially lonely learning period to go through. I’m glad I went through that period rather than just drinking to be social.
      It can be learned ;)
      Anyway, my point wasn’t to try to convert the world to be sober. Just sharing my thoughts and curious to hear others’. If drinking a wee bit of wine works for you as long as you don’t overdo it, and as long as you’re happy with that then there’s no need to change it. As Dale said above, these kinds of things are personal decisions and we shouldn’t necessarily try to change people’s way of living.
      In summary, I mostly agree with your disagreement :D Thanks for the contribution!! :)

  • Dale

    Clare,

    Ordinare, mi ne afiŝas Esperante ĉe angla blogo. Sed vi menciis uzi Esperanton, kaj Benny kompreneble estas Esperantisto. Mi tute komprenas la sperton de ne havi la ĝustan vorton. Mi havas ĝin eĉ nacialingve en la angla. Certe mi spertas ĝin en Esperanto. Por mi, estas necesa simple uzi Esperanton, sen vortaro por interparolado kaj skribado denove kaj denove.

    Benny,

    Jes, certe uzi mian lastan frazon de mia lasta afiŝo.

  • Dale

    Clare,

    Ordinare, mi ne afiŝas Esperante ĉe angla blogo. Sed vi menciis uzi Esperanton, kaj Benny kompreneble estas Esperantisto. Mi tute komprenas la sperton de ne havi la ĝustan vorton. Mi havas ĝin eĉ nacialingve en la angla. Certe mi spertas ĝin en Esperanto. Por mi, estas necesa simple uzi Esperanton, sen vortaro por interparolado kaj skribado denove kaj denove.

    Benny,

    Jes, certe uzi mian lastan frazon de mia lasta afiŝo.

  • http://natural-language-acquisition.blogspot.com/ Keith

    Hey Benny! How can I learn to be the life of the party like you?
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..does speaking cause damage? =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Hi Keith! :)
      First thing you must do above all, is take people like me off a pedestal ;) If you believe that the world is black and white with just socially awkward people and party animals, you’ll never make the transition!
      I’m quite social now, but I also have my quiet moments, and I still have lots to learn! (That’s why I’m sticking to bloggging about languages for the moment :P ) But I can recommend that you read my friend’s blog where he mentions how talking the strangers isn’t all that bad. Taking it step by step is the key.
      Also don’t think too much. I find in western culture we tend to analyse everything way too much instead of going with the flow. I learned a lot from Brazilians for example who are extremely social. One thing that helps me is if I see a group of people I’d like to talk to, I do not stop and think to myself what a good way to start talking to them would be, or wonder if maybe they don’t want to talk to me etc. I go by the 3-second rule of if I’m close by then I will just say hi and start a conversation without thinking too much. If I wait any longer than 3 seconds then I’ll feel awkward approaching them. Even saying something silly is better than nothing. In Ireland we have an expression that “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet” and I go by that rule rather than try to feel intimidated ;)
      Hope this minor tips are some help!! I’ll be blogging more about socialising methods insomuch as it is relevant to learning languages ;) ;)

      • http://natural-language-acquisition.blogspot.com/ Keith

        Thanks for the reply Benny. First of all, I cannot take you down from the pedestal because you are made of gold, and gold is really heavy. I read the post you linked to. I don’t think I can do it. I have tried to do it once before. I really wanted to do it. I thought I could do it. I was kidding myself. I don’t have the stomach. I know there is more to it than just saying Hi. Maybe I will bring my camera and record video of what happens. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Thanks.

        • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

          One of the oldest language-learning tricks in the book for starting a conversation with a native speaker. Simply have some text in the foreign language with you (on written material, in your iPhone, etc.) that you don’t understand (or do, but are pretending not to). Then just say, “Excuse me, I’m still learning language x, so I’m not so good at it, so could you help me with this?” Bam, conversation started.

          That actually became apparent to me not because I was looking to start conversations, but because I genuinely wanted to know things and, too impatient to wait for a dictionary to be handy, I’d just ask someone nearby—a person on the train, in a bar, on the street, etc.

  • http://natural-language-acquisition.blogspot.com/ Keith

    Hey Benny! How can I learn to be the life of the party like you?
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..does speaking cause damage? =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Hi Keith! :)
      First thing you must do above all, is take people like me off a pedestal ;) If you believe that the world is black and white with just socially awkward people and party animals, you’ll never make the transition!
      I’m quite social now, but I also have my quiet moments, and I still have lots to learn! (That’s why I’m sticking to bloggging about languages for the moment :P ) But I can recommend that you read my friend’s blog where he mentions how talking the strangers isn’t all that bad. Taking it step by step is the key.
      Also don’t think too much. I find in western culture we tend to analyse everything way too much instead of going with the flow. I learned a lot from Brazilians for example who are extremely social. One thing that helps me is if I see a group of people I’d like to talk to, I do not stop and think to myself what a good way to start talking to them would be, or wonder if maybe they don’t want to talk to me etc. I go by the 3-second rule of if I’m close by then I will just say hi and start a conversation without thinking too much. If I wait any longer than 3 seconds then I’ll feel awkward approaching them. Even saying something silly is better than nothing. In Ireland we have an expression that “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet” and I go by that rule rather than try to feel intimidated ;)
      Hope this minor tips are some help!! I’ll be blogging more about socialising methods insomuch as it is relevant to learning languages ;) ;)

      • http://natural-language-acquisition.blogspot.com/ Keith

        Thanks for the reply Benny. First of all, I cannot take you down from the pedestal because you are made of gold, and gold is really heavy. I read the post you linked to. I don’t think I can do it. I have tried to do it once before. I really wanted to do it. I thought I could do it. I was kidding myself. I don’t have the stomach. I know there is more to it than just saying Hi. Maybe I will bring my camera and record video of what happens. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Thanks.

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ balint

    Very exciting topic! :D

    Actually, I’m also “doing” “reasearch” :D on this – just from another point of view.

    The folllowing is MY point opinion, no one has to agree with that and I want to emphasize that I don’t want to convince anybody about “my truth”.

    For me, drinking is a really socializing event which binds people together. And it is not about getting confident enough to do those things that you’d never do sober. Mind you, I find that after 7-8 beers (unfortunately I have to drink a lot to get drunk which means it is a costly hobby :D), I can find English words MUCH faster in my memory (so far, this is the only language I speak confidently, but I’m on my way with Spanish :D), therefore I can speak as fast as a native. And sometimes I’m surprised too that how “complicated” or “long forgotten” words come up!

    So there must be something in alcohol that “lubricates” mind and helps finding words and even correct grammar – again, for me. I don’t know how it work for someone else.

    Of course being always drunk is not an option. But still, verrrrry interesting this “why speak better when drunk” stuff.

    And I don’t mind hangover. If you know the right cure there can’t be any problem. ;)

    By the way, I really appreciate that Benny doesn’t want to convince others about “drinking is bad” – he just expresses his experience and that’s it!
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Effortless English összefoglaló – bónusz lecke =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks for your thoughts as always Balint ;)
      Thanks also for not trying to convince us of your truth! Nevertheless, I’m still not so convinced and haven’t heard a new argument that doesn’t destroy my placebo theory.
      Drinking isn’t social. Drinking is holding a glass of beer/wine and pouring it down your neck. When you are drinking, by definition you can’t talk. In the time between taking drinks what difference does it make holding a can or glass in your hand to not having one? Talking to people is social and drinking is something you can do at the same time, but isn’t (in my opinion) actually social at all. It’s just that you happen to be doing the same thing with everyone else. Playing football is social, going shopping with friends is social, and you could even argue that watching TV with your mates is social (although I wouldn’t think so). But the actual things themselves aren’t social; kicking a ball, passing your credit card to a salesperson etc. Socialising is being with people and interacting with them. If we can do anything together, I still don’t see what’s so special about pouring brewed and fermented starches down your throat. It’s only because society tells us to, so people go and do it. In another world we could pick something just as random to replace going drinking and some business would profit from it and promote it just as readily.
      Feel free to keep sharing these thoughts with me, I wrote this post because I genuinely want to understand and the thousands of drunk people I’ve met over the years have never given me any good arguments!
      I’d argue that you are remembering the words and speaking quickly simply because you are being social and relaxed. Can you compare it to being in a social situation where you were equally chilled out but there happened to be no beer and you couldn’t remember the words? If so, maybe you weren’t actually as relaxed simply because you thought that beer would help you. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy that could still be argued that it’s nothing more than a placebo.
      Hanging out with cool people is fun so your mentality changes and this will help the words flow, not necessarily the beer ;)

      • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ balint

        “I’m still not so convinced”
        I said I didn’t want to convince you, only share my thoughts ;)

        “Drinking isn’t social.”
        If I were you I’d really reconsider this. ;) Drinking is very social in the sense that people gather together, share thoughts, chatting, having fun, experincing good things, meeting other people. Sure, you can do that when you play football, going shopping, etc. But still, people tend to think drinking IS the common dominator. Alcohol destroys social barriers. OK, I don’t want to defend my poor alcoholic fellas. :D

        Anyway, what I wanted to say that when I’m drunk (not talking about black out, just a bit drunk), my mouth and my tongue moves easier. I mean physically. As they were “lubricated”, as I mentioned. I’m not talking about the psychological part (feeling relaxed, confident, etc), but pure physics. Maybe I should do more research on that. I’ll start it with a beer.

        When I was in Prague, I wanted to die there – I loved it. Not only the beauty of the city, but the amazing beers, man! How can you NOT drink there? :D (no offense, joking :D)
        .-= balint´s last blog ..Összefoglaló – 30. és 31. hét =-.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

          Yes, indeed if anything I’m the one trying to convince people rather than just simply share my thoughts :P I’ve gotten it off my chest so I’ll ease off now :)
          Thanks for your comments; I suppose I’ll never know what alcohol actually does since nobody seems to be able to describe it fully to me in a way that dissuades me from my placebo theory and I really have no interest in getting drunk to find out… I’m quite happy the way I am and if others are too, then as long as it’s in moderation and it’s not hurting anyone, there’s no real problem ;)
          Thanks so much for treating me to the mocktail!! :) Hugely appreciated!!!
          Cheers!! :D

    • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

      I wonder if what you’re hypothesizing is consistent with this study that says alcohol hinders learning. It could potentially be the case that, while alcohol hinders the acquisition of new information in language learning, it allows you to more easily access the information you have. I’d doubt that’s the case, but it wouldn’t be too hard to set up a study to check out the theory.

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu balint

    Very exciting topic! :D

    Actually, I’m also “doing” “reasearch” :D on this – just from another point of view.

    The folllowing is MY point opinion, no one has to agree with that and I want to emphasize that I don’t want to convince anybody about “my truth”.

    For me, drinking is a really socializing event which binds people together. And it is not about getting confident enough to do those things that you’d never do sober. Mind you, I find that after 7-8 beers (unfortunately I have to drink a lot to get drunk which means it is a costly hobby :D), I can find English words MUCH faster in my memory (so far, this is the only language I speak confidently, but I’m on my way with Spanish :D), therefore I can speak as fast as a native. And sometimes I’m surprised too that how “complicated” or “long forgotten” words come up!

    So there must be something in alcohol that “lubricates” mind and helps finding words and even correct grammar – again, for me. I don’t know how it work for someone else.

    Of course being always drunk is not an option. But still, verrrrry interesting this “why speak better when drunk” stuff.

    And I don’t mind hangover. If you know the right cure there can’t be any problem. ;)

    By the way, I really appreciate that Benny doesn’t want to convince others about “drinking is bad” – he just expresses his experience and that’s it!
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Effortless English összefoglaló – bónusz lecke =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for your thoughts as always Balint ;)
      Thanks also for not trying to convince us of your truth! Nevertheless, I’m still not so convinced and haven’t heard a new argument that doesn’t destroy my placebo theory.
      Drinking isn’t social. Drinking is holding a glass of beer/wine and pouring it down your neck. When you are drinking, by definition you can’t talk. In the time between taking drinks what difference does it make holding a can or glass in your hand to not having one? Talking to people is social and drinking is something you can do at the same time, but isn’t (in my opinion) actually social at all. It’s just that you happen to be doing the same thing with everyone else. Playing football is social, going shopping with friends is social, and you could even argue that watching TV with your mates is social (although I wouldn’t think so). But the actual things themselves aren’t social; kicking a ball, passing your credit card to a salesperson etc. Socialising is being with people and interacting with them. If we can do anything together, I still don’t see what’s so special about pouring brewed and fermented starches down your throat. It’s only because society tells us to, so people go and do it. In another world we could pick something just as random to replace going drinking and some business would profit from it and promote it just as readily.
      Feel free to keep sharing these thoughts with me, I wrote this post because I genuinely want to understand and the thousands of drunk people I’ve met over the years have never given me any good arguments!
      I’d argue that you are remembering the words and speaking quickly simply because you are being social and relaxed. Can you compare it to being in a social situation where you were equally chilled out but there happened to be no beer and you couldn’t remember the words? If so, maybe you weren’t actually as relaxed simply because you thought that beer would help you. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy that could still be argued that it’s nothing more than a placebo.
      Hanging out with cool people is fun so your mentality changes and this will help the words flow, not necessarily the beer ;)

      • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu balint

        “I’m still not so convinced”
        I said I didn’t want to convince you, only share my thoughts ;)

        “Drinking isn’t social.”
        If I were you I’d really reconsider this. ;) Drinking is very social in the sense that people gather together, share thoughts, chatting, having fun, experincing good things, meeting other people. Sure, you can do that when you play football, going shopping, etc. But still, people tend to think drinking IS the common dominator. Alcohol destroys social barriers. OK, I don’t want to defend my poor alcoholic fellas. :D

        Anyway, what I wanted to say that when I’m drunk (not talking about black out, just a bit drunk), my mouth and my tongue moves easier. I mean physically. As they were “lubricated”, as I mentioned. I’m not talking about the psychological part (feeling relaxed, confident, etc), but pure physics. Maybe I should do more research on that. I’ll start it with a beer.

        When I was in Prague, I wanted to die there – I loved it. Not only the beauty of the city, but the amazing beers, man! How can you NOT drink there? :D (no offense, joking :D)
        .-= balint´s last blog ..Összefoglaló – 30. és 31. hét =-.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

          Yes, indeed if anything I’m the one trying to convince people rather than just simply share my thoughts :P I’ve gotten it off my chest so I’ll ease off now :)
          Thanks for your comments; I suppose I’ll never know what alcohol actually does since nobody seems to be able to describe it fully to me in a way that dissuades me from my placebo theory and I really have no interest in getting drunk to find out… I’m quite happy the way I am and if others are too, then as long as it’s in moderation and it’s not hurting anyone, there’s no real problem ;)
          Thanks so much for treating me to the mocktail!! :) Hugely appreciated!!!
          Cheers!! :D

  • Jon

    im glad you brought this up
    i was recently at a disko in germany with a few german friends of mine and after about 2 drinks i wasnt drunk, but was communicating completely in german when before i would give up on forming sentences too complicated for me and just say it in english. after that i was convinced that whenever i drank and just got at least a bit tipsy, i would be able to speak much better in german.
    after reading this post im convinced otherwise. you made some pretty good points. so thanks for the info =]]

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks Jon!! :)
      I challenge anyone who thinks that beer really is making the difference to go out with my choice of drink and genuinely try to be naturally social. I’ll admit that it’s not quite like a switch you can turn on and off, but rather a skill that has to be learned, so it may take time. But once you learn it, you’ll see that maybe the beer was just showing you stuff that you could do anyway! :)

  • Jon

    im glad you brought this up
    i was recently at a disko in germany with a few german friends of mine and after about 2 drinks i wasnt drunk, but was communicating completely in german when before i would give up on forming sentences too complicated for me and just say it in english. after that i was convinced that whenever i drank and just got at least a bit tipsy, i would be able to speak much better in german.
    after reading this post im convinced otherwise. you made some pretty good points. so thanks for the info =]]

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks Jon!! :)
      I challenge anyone who thinks that beer really is making the difference to go out with my choice of drink and genuinely try to be naturally social. I’ll admit that it’s not quite like a switch you can turn on and off, but rather a skill that has to be learned, so it may take time. But once you learn it, you’ll see that maybe the beer was just showing you stuff that you could do anyway! :)

  • http://womenlearnthai.com/ Catherine

    This year I ran across an article stating that if you drink too much the night before, forget trying to do any language lessons the following day as you will not retain much of anything. Makes sense.

    On the other side, there are online groups set up for those who agree that partaking of alcohol helps with foreign language speaking. This also makes sense as one of the biggest hurdles of taking on a new language is getting enough confidence to speak freely.

    My fear is that, along with my tongue, all of the dirty words I tried not to learn will also be freed into the night.

    But, each to their own and all in moderation pretty much covers everything…
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Learning Thai is More Than a Study of Words & Grammar – Part 2 =-.

  • http://womenlearnthai.com Catherine

    This year I ran across an article stating that if you drink too much the night before, forget trying to do any language lessons the following day as you will not retain much of anything. Makes sense.

    On the other side, there are online groups set up for those who agree that partaking of alcohol helps with foreign language speaking. This also makes sense as one of the biggest hurdles of taking on a new language is getting enough confidence to speak freely.

    My fear is that, along with my tongue, all of the dirty words I tried not to learn will also be freed into the night.

    But, each to their own and all in moderation pretty much covers everything…
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Learning Thai is More Than a Study of Words & Grammar – Part 2 =-.

  • http://learnalanguageortwo.blogspot.com/ reineke

    •They don’t actually speak it better, but think that they do.

    I am not sure about this one.

    I believe that if one hits just the right amount one may actually speak better. Obviously, drinking for this or any other “practical” reason is stupid and dangerous.

    •They lose their inhibitions and feel more confident and less worried about making mistakes.

    Sure.

    •They stop thinking so much and just speak, without hesitating to search for the “right” word

    Sure

    •They are usually shy, but suddenly become extrovert thanks to the alcohol

    Sure. The last three of your points can be combined into one.

    I’d like to add that these factors are not purely psychological since we’re ingesting a foreign substance which (in large amounts) actually kills brain cells and inhibits some brain functions.

    I am not sure about speaking. One also needs to be able to string together a logical sentence. This becomes a bit difficult if one is talking under the influence.

    I was able to read Portuguese like a champ one merry night – considering the ridiculously small amount of exposure I’ve had to this language. The most impressive part was pronunciation – the most difficult sounds came naturally and actually sounded very good.
    .-= reineke´s last blog ..Learning Languages in Your Pajamas, Eating Captain Crunch =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Yes, of course beer’s effects are very real. My argument is just that we have these inherent abilities anyway ;) If we put our mind to it, we can do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING that we can do when drunk. Beer does not add abilities. If anything, ingesting a foreign substance which kills brain cells can only take away our abilities, as you’ve suggested.

  • http://learnalanguageortwo.blogspot.com/ reineke

    •They don’t actually speak it better, but think that they do.

    I am not sure about this one.

    I believe that if one hits just the right amount one may actually speak better. Obviously, drinking for this or any other “practical” reason is stupid and dangerous.

    •They lose their inhibitions and feel more confident and less worried about making mistakes.

    Sure.

    •They stop thinking so much and just speak, without hesitating to search for the “right” word

    Sure

    •They are usually shy, but suddenly become extrovert thanks to the alcohol

    Sure. The last three of your points can be combined into one.

    I’d like to add that these factors are not purely psychological since we’re ingesting a foreign substance which (in large amounts) actually kills brain cells and inhibits some brain functions.

    I am not sure about speaking. One also needs to be able to string together a logical sentence. This becomes a bit difficult if one is talking under the influence.

    I was able to read Portuguese like a champ one merry night – considering the ridiculously small amount of exposure I’ve had to this language. The most impressive part was pronunciation – the most difficult sounds came naturally and actually sounded very good.
    .-= reineke´s last blog ..Learning Languages in Your Pajamas, Eating Captain Crunch =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Yes, of course beer’s effects are very real. My argument is just that we have these inherent abilities anyway ;) If we put our mind to it, we can do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING that we can do when drunk. Beer does not add abilities. If anything, ingesting a foreign substance which kills brain cells can only take away our abilities, as you’ve suggested.

  • dzurisova

    Hi again,

    Although I must disagree with your statement that drinking doesn’t help one speak a foreign language, I agree with your reasons why one speaks better when drinking:

    - They lose their inhibitions and feel more confident and less worried about making mistakes.
    - They stop thinking so much and just speak, without hesitating to search for the “right” word

    Since drinking allows the above occurrences, one would argue that drinking then helps when trying to speak a foreign language.

    I must say that I’m usually an extrovert – like you, the first one the dance floor or up for karaoke and that’s without drinking. But I know from my Czech friends that when I do drink and get a little tipsy, the Czech flows out of me. In fact, after one night of intensive conversation with my father-in-law in Czech over svařak, the next day, he insisted that I speak like I did last night and I tried and tried but could not find the words. :)

    Now, I’m not sure, like Balint, if the liquor itself opens a part of your mind that is normally closed thus allowing you to process the foreign language better or if it merely relaxes one to the point he/she is able to do as you said, “lose inhibitions & think less”.

    Regardless of how it works – it does work – as you stated yourself that it allows the above occurrences. I know you say there is a placebo effect and perhaps that may be true. Perhaps next time a Czech friend of mine could boil the svařak without my knowledge (thus killing the alcohol) and see if I begin to speak Czech as well as I do while drinking svařak. I’m betting I wouldn’t – but unless a Czech friend is willing to trick me that way – I guess we’ll never know. :) P.S. – It will be difficult to find a Czech that’s willing to ruin a good glass of svařak by boiling it just for an experiment. ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks for another interesting comment :)
      I would argue that drinking doesn’t actually allow the above occurrences. My whole point is that people wait until they drink to let themselves be relaxed ;)
      Your anecdote about trying to speak the next day is interesting, but the social conditions are not the same. Someone ordering you to “speak fluent” is more stressful than being out and having fun. My whole problem is with the correlation. It’s faulty logic: you drink = you speak better, is actually in my mind: you are having fun + you are drinking = you speak better. Most people would at least agree with me that being relaxed without the alcohol helps a little bit. My argument is that drink’s contribution is much smaller than most people would admit so that the equation approximates to: having fun = speaking better :)
      If someone could learn to have fun without beer (admittedly it would take practise at first since it requires a complete change of mindset if you’ve been doing it all of your adult life) then they would be able to do absolutely everything that they can do when drunk.
      I can read a million anecdotes of people telling me they speak better when they are drunk and it still won’t convince me. Why are you speaking better when you are drunk? Is there a magical memory booster in beer? No – you are just more relaxed and less worried. This state of mind is also possible sober ;)
      I can see I am not going to convince people and that’s fine :) Just wanted an interesting discussion and I’m getting it! Still have to hear a good argument to thrash my placebo theory though :P Maybe the city should conspire against you and work on the boiled svařak without your knowledge :P

      • Gus Mueller

        Alcohol is banned in Olympic pistol-shooting because it dampens microtremors in the hands and helps shooters shoot better. So there!

    • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

      Studies like these, in which participants started acting drunk because they thought they were even though they were not, lead me to buy hard into the placebo effect argument.

  • dzurisova

    Hi again,

    Although I must disagree with your statement that drinking doesn’t help one speak a foreign language, I agree with your reasons why one speaks better when drinking:

    - They lose their inhibitions and feel more confident and less worried about making mistakes.
    - They stop thinking so much and just speak, without hesitating to search for the “right” word

    Since drinking allows the above occurrences, one would argue that drinking then helps when trying to speak a foreign language.

    I must say that I’m usually an extrovert – like you, the first one the dance floor or up for karaoke and that’s without drinking. But I know from my Czech friends that when I do drink and get a little tipsy, the Czech flows out of me. In fact, after one night of intensive conversation with my father-in-law in Czech over svařak, the next day, he insisted that I speak like I did last night and I tried and tried but could not find the words. :)

    Now, I’m not sure, like Balint, if the liquor itself opens a part of your mind that is normally closed thus allowing you to process the foreign language better or if it merely relaxes one to the point he/she is able to do as you said, “lose inhibitions & think less”.

    Regardless of how it works – it does work – as you stated yourself that it allows the above occurrences. I know you say there is a placebo effect and perhaps that may be true. Perhaps next time a Czech friend of mine could boil the svařak without my knowledge (thus killing the alcohol) and see if I begin to speak Czech as well as I do while drinking svařak. I’m betting I wouldn’t – but unless a Czech friend is willing to trick me that way – I guess we’ll never know. :) P.S. – It will be difficult to find a Czech that’s willing to ruin a good glass of svařak by boiling it just for an experiment. ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for another interesting comment :)
      I would argue that drinking doesn’t actually allow the above occurrences. My whole point is that people wait until they drink to let themselves be relaxed ;)
      Your anecdote about trying to speak the next day is interesting, but the social conditions are not the same. Someone ordering you to “speak fluent” is more stressful than being out and having fun. My whole problem is with the correlation. It’s faulty logic: you drink = you speak better, is actually in my mind: you are having fun + you are drinking = you speak better. Most people would at least agree with me that being relaxed without the alcohol helps a little bit. My argument is that drink’s contribution is much smaller than most people would admit so that the equation approximates to: having fun = speaking better :)
      If someone could learn to have fun without beer (admittedly it would take practise at first since it requires a complete change of mindset if you’ve been doing it all of your adult life) then they would be able to do absolutely everything that they can do when drunk.
      I can read a million anecdotes of people telling me they speak better when they are drunk and it still won’t convince me. Why are you speaking better when you are drunk? Is there a magical memory booster in beer? No – you are just more relaxed and less worried. This state of mind is also possible sober ;)
      I can see I am not going to convince people and that’s fine :) Just wanted an interesting discussion and I’m getting it! Still have to hear a good argument to thrash my placebo theory though :P Maybe the city should conspire against you and work on the boiled svařak without your knowledge :P

  • http://womenlearnthai.com/ Catherine

    There is no doubt in my mind that drinking helps people in social occasions. So it being a help where speaking a foreign language is involved is obviously included in the mix.

    For assisting the brain well into the future, there is also this argument…

    http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/healthissues/1119633942.html

    And like I mentioned before, moderation is the key.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Learning Thai is More Than a Study of Words & Grammar – Part 2 =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks for your thoughts Catherine ;)
      To counter a lot of the arguments in the link, you can see the page that I linked to in this post. A quote from it:
      “The moderate drinkers tend to do everything right — they exercise, they don’t smoke, they eat right and they drink moderately,” said Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a retired sociologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who has criticized the research. “It’s very hard to disentangle all of that, and that’s a real problem.”
      I’d be curious to know what those who abstain from drink who were used in the statistics in your link do apart from not drink. It’s not as clear cut as the only difference between the groups being drinking or not drinking. Some people choose not to drink because it’s healthier, but some people can’t drink because they already have heart conditions so they can’t for medical reasons, or maybe they do hard drugs instead for example. Your list is quite global, but in a lot of those countries the poor people may not drink because they can’t afford it, whereas rich people are a lot less likely to overdo it and will be very healthy for many unrelated reasons.
      I love how your link says “and the list goes on…”; it’s a one sided argument :) We could just as easily find (possibly equally biased) statistics about (moderate) drinking being bad and make a big list of them too. Obviously I’m a little biased in my opinion, but can you at least see that those studies can be taken out of context? ;)
      And I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but these biased statistics are very much promoted by the drinking industry (especially wine and how it’s famously “healthy”, so much so that now it’s practically unchallenged “common knowledge”). Nobody can profit from statistics or studies that show that even moderate drinking isn’t all that great, so you will rarely ever hear about these. Money makes the world go round (i.e. it’s the motivation behind a lot more that goes on in the world than we would like to think) and the drinking industry has very clever advertisements and subtle promotion of particular scientific studies to keep the current status quo.
      I’m still not convinced that even moderate drinking is all that useful. It does chill people out, but as I keep saying, that’s something they could do without the drink if they put their mind to it. The problem is that this involves work, and a change in mentality, and that is not an investment a lot of people are willing to make. I’m not going to convince many people of this and that’s fine. ;)
      Thanks for the interesting contribution!

  • http://womenlearnthai.com Catherine

    There is no doubt in my mind that drinking helps people in social occasions. So it being a help where speaking a foreign language is involved is obviously included in the mix.

    For assisting the brain well into the future, there is also this argument…

    http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/healthissues/1119633942.html

    And like I mentioned before, moderation is the key.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Learning Thai is More Than a Study of Words & Grammar – Part 2 =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for your thoughts Catherine ;)
      To counter a lot of the arguments in the link, you can see the page that I linked to in this post. A quote from it:
      “The moderate drinkers tend to do everything right — they exercise, they don’t smoke, they eat right and they drink moderately,” said Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a retired sociologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who has criticized the research. “It’s very hard to disentangle all of that, and that’s a real problem.”
      I’d be curious to know what those who abstain from drink who were used in the statistics in your link do apart from not drink. It’s not as clear cut as the only difference between the groups being drinking or not drinking. Some people choose not to drink because it’s healthier, but some people can’t drink because they already have heart conditions so they can’t for medical reasons, or maybe they do hard drugs instead for example. Your list is quite global, but in a lot of those countries the poor people may not drink because they can’t afford it, whereas rich people are a lot less likely to overdo it and will be very healthy for many unrelated reasons.
      I love how your link says “and the list goes on…”; it’s a one sided argument :) We could just as easily find (possibly equally biased) statistics about (moderate) drinking being bad and make a big list of them too. Obviously I’m a little biased in my opinion, but can you at least see that those studies can be taken out of context? ;)
      And I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but these biased statistics are very much promoted by the drinking industry (especially wine and how it’s famously “healthy”, so much so that now it’s practically unchallenged “common knowledge”). Nobody can profit from statistics or studies that show that even moderate drinking isn’t all that great, so you will rarely ever hear about these. Money makes the world go round (i.e. it’s the motivation behind a lot more that goes on in the world than we would like to think) and the drinking industry has very clever advertisements and subtle promotion of particular scientific studies to keep the current status quo.
      I’m still not convinced that even moderate drinking is all that useful. It does chill people out, but as I keep saying, that’s something they could do without the drink if they put their mind to it. The problem is that this involves work, and a change in mentality, and that is not an investment a lot of people are willing to make. I’m not going to convince many people of this and that’s fine. ;)
      Thanks for the interesting contribution!

  • http://jessdoesstuff.blogspot.com/ Jess

    That’s a great post, actually and I entirely agree that drinking is only helpful in lowering your inhibitions. . . . and the post reminded me of a conversation I had with a Mexican guy and a few Germans that I (English speaking Canadian) was sitting with at Oktoberfest in Munich.

    German Guy: “With one mas (litre of beer), I speak English!”
    Me: “With two mas, I speak German!”
    Mexican Guy: “With three, I speak Russian!”

    Funny, but also a good point on the fine line between lowering inhibitions and becoming unintelligible. ;)

    Kind of a good point between
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Books & Movies in July =-.

  • http://jessdoesstuff.blogspot.com Jess

    That’s a great post, actually and I entirely agree that drinking is only helpful in lowering your inhibitions. . . . and the post reminded me of a conversation I had with a Mexican guy and a few Germans that I (English speaking Canadian) was sitting with at Oktoberfest in Munich.

    German Guy: “With one mas (litre of beer), I speak English!”
    Me: “With two mas, I speak German!”
    Mexican Guy: “With three, I speak Russian!”

    Funny, but also a good point on the fine line between lowering inhibitions and becoming unintelligible. ;)

    Kind of a good point between
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Books & Movies in July =-.

  • http://www.insidethetravellab.com/ Abi

    Hi Benny,

    This no-alcohol thing might be the best ‘time management’ tip of all ;)

    I’ve nominated your blog for an award on my site http://www.insidethetravellab.com.

    Drop by if you get the chance and pass it on,

    If you want to continue the blog carnival:

    1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
    2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
    3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

    Hast luego, A bientot – and I’m afraid that’s as many as I know
    .-= Abi´s last blog ..15 Great Travel Blogs =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks for the link-love Abi!! :) For the moment, since this blog is still new I am going to be focussing on pure content. Later on when I have a long established reader base, I will consider sharing links with other sites directly in posts.
      Thanks so much for pointing to my site :) Looking forward to reading more of your comments!

  • http://www.insidethetravellab.com Abi

    Hi Benny,

    This no-alcohol thing might be the best ‘time management’ tip of all ;)

    I’ve nominated your blog for an award on my site http://www.insidethetravellab.com.

    Drop by if you get the chance and pass it on,

    If you want to continue the blog carnival:

    1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
    2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
    3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

    Hast luego, A bientot – and I’m afraid that’s as many as I know
    .-= Abi´s last blog ..15 Great Travel Blogs =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for the link-love Abi!! :) For the moment, since this blog is still new I am going to be focussing on pure content. Later on when I have a long established reader base, I will consider sharing links with other sites directly in posts.
      Thanks so much for pointing to my site :) Looking forward to reading more of your comments!

  • Nic

    You are extroverted, friendly person. You don’t need alcohol to be able to relax. I’m your polar opposite. Without the good feeling that alcohol provides me, it’s hard for me to mingle and have a good time because I get too tensed. I think it all depends on the person… Good feeling by drinking makes me a happier, more approachable person so I can have better times when socializing. But I know it’s something you don’t need.

    Nic

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Hey Nic, thanks for the comment :) I know what you mean, but I’m not naturally extroverted and friendly. I went to an all boys school and very rarely went out in university. When I first started travelling I found it extremely hard to meet new people because I was definitely super shy.
      Being less tense and learning to have a good time is a skill that can be learned like any other. Of course, I don’t know what it’s like getting off the drink and trying to be social after relying on alcohol for so many years, so maybe it’s harder to achieve than I may think, but it is definitely achievable to someone motivated enough :)
      The problem is that most people are comfortable in their current situation and don’t see any reason to change, or any real benefits to achieving the same results without drink. I won’t push the issue too much, I don’t plan on changing the world (not just yet :P )

  • Nic

    You are extroverted, friendly person. You don’t need alcohol to be able to relax. I’m your polar opposite. Without the good feeling that alcohol provides me, it’s hard for me to mingle and have a good time because I get too tensed. I think it all depends on the person… Good feeling by drinking makes me a happier, more approachable person so I can have better times when socializing. But I know it’s something you don’t need.

    Nic

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Hey Nic, thanks for the comment :) I know what you mean, but I’m not naturally extroverted and friendly. I went to an all boys school and very rarely went out in university. When I first started travelling I found it extremely hard to meet new people because I was definitely super shy.
      Being less tense and learning to have a good time is a skill that can be learned like any other. Of course, I don’t know what it’s like getting off the drink and trying to be social after relying on alcohol for so many years, so maybe it’s harder to achieve than I may think, but it is definitely achievable to someone motivated enough :)
      The problem is that most people are comfortable in their current situation and don’t see any reason to change, or any real benefits to achieving the same results without drink. I won’t push the issue too much, I don’t plan on changing the world (not just yet :P )

  • Vagner

    Hi lap,

    Wow! I’ve just found out your blog and I’ve just become your e-reader fan. It’s fantastic, man!
    About drinking. Well, I can’t tell you that I’m a non-drinker person, I enjoy it from time to time when I’m hanging out with friends, but I have to tell you: there’s no peer pressure – only pleasure!!! But in spite of enjoying it, I’ve never tried alcohol in order to boost my performance as an English learner. Therefore, I do think you’re absolutely right.

    P.S.: Binge drinking isn’t healthy at all.

  • Vagner

    Hi lap,

    Wow! I’ve just found out your blog and I’ve just become your e-reader fan. It’s fantastic, man!
    About drinking. Well, I can’t tell you that I’m a non-drinker person, I enjoy it from time to time when I’m hanging out with friends, but I have to tell you: there’s no peer pressure – only pleasure!!! But in spite of enjoying it, I’ve never tried alcohol in order to boost my performance as an English learner. Therefore, I do think you’re absolutely right.

    P.S.: Binge drinking isn’t healthy at all.

  • Johano

    I wonder if speaking a foreign language in a dream is easier, or the words seem to come more freely (it hasn’t for me). But it seems like the dream state might be a lot like the drunk state…?

  • Johano

    I wonder if speaking a foreign language in a dream is easier, or the words seem to come more freely (it hasn’t for me). But it seems like the dream state might be a lot like the drunk state…?

  • http://www.nerdynomad.com/ Kirsty

    Hey,

    Awesome post and great to see the commenters return after their mysterious absense.

    I couldn’t tell you he answer to this either… not because I don’t drink but because I don’t attempt to speak another languages when I do. I know how hard it is to understand Irish and Scotish people when they’re drunk so understanding another language would be a bit more than I could take I think, especially if I’d had a few too!

    Kirsty
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..The Custom WordPress Design Experiment: Part 1 =-.

  • http://www.nerdynomad.com Kirsty

    Hey,

    Awesome post and great to see the commenters return after their mysterious absense.

    I couldn’t tell you he answer to this either… not because I don’t drink but because I don’t attempt to speak another languages when I do. I know how hard it is to understand Irish and Scotish people when they’re drunk so understanding another language would be a bit more than I could take I think, especially if I’d had a few too!

    Kirsty
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..The Custom WordPress Design Experiment: Part 1 =-.

  • http://www.insidethetravellab.com/ Abi

    Yes and no. Yes, alcohol gives people a feeling of confidence (although I’m ready to believe your theory that they could give themselves that on their own.) No, in that it becomes progressively harder to remember what anyone just said….in whatever language ;)

    What I find very interesting is the strength of opinion on the subject. I knew someone who gave up drinking alcohol for a few months purely to save money. He still went out, he just asked for water and turned down offers of drinks because he didn’t want to feel he was shirking his round.

    Everyone had an opinion – and many people seemed to interpret his choice as a criticism of their own behaviour.

    Of course, if he’d been a girl, they’d just have assumed he was pregnant…..;)
    .-= Abi´s last blog ..Some Like It Strong.. =-.

  • http://www.insidethetravellab.com Abi

    Yes and no. Yes, alcohol gives people a feeling of confidence (although I’m ready to believe your theory that they could give themselves that on their own.) No, in that it becomes progressively harder to remember what anyone just said….in whatever language ;)

    What I find very interesting is the strength of opinion on the subject. I knew someone who gave up drinking alcohol for a few months purely to save money. He still went out, he just asked for water and turned down offers of drinks because he didn’t want to feel he was shirking his round.

    Everyone had an opinion – and many people seemed to interpret his choice as a criticism of their own behaviour.

    Of course, if he’d been a girl, they’d just have assumed he was pregnant…..;)
    .-= Abi´s last blog ..Some Like It Strong.. =-.

  • cestina

    I think this is one occasion where I disagree with you Benny. I’m an occasional drinker and certainly don’t need alcohol to relax and have a good time. Nor do I have any inhibitions about making a fool of myself when speaking a foreign language and I haven’t in any way ever felt tense when doing so, even right at the beginning.

    But I have noticed over the years that if I happen to find myself in a social situation where drinking is happening and I am joining in, then my tongue does become “looser” and the language flows with apparently greater ease. Words, and more to the point, grammatical constructions bob up that I didn’t even know I knew . What is hard to tell “from the inside” though is whether it just all seems more fluent because one is less in control of what is going on, or whether it really is more fluent.

    There must have been some proper scientific studies about this aspect of language learning…..

    • Genevieve

      Hello, Cestina!

      You said that you had been ‘learning’ Czech for several years (a few weeks a year over there for the first three years and then six months at a time).

      Did you mean that you spent 3-4 CONSECUTIVE weeks in the Czech Republic every year for the first three years, and then spent six months there, six months in your home country, six months there, six months in your home country, six months there, six months in your home country and so on … ? Or have I got it wrong?

      Please explain as I would like to give your way a go as it sounds great!

      Best regards

  • cestina

    I think this is one occasion where I disagree with you Benny. I’m an occasional drinker and certainly don’t need alcohol to relax and have a good time. Nor do I have any inhibitions about making a fool of myself when speaking a foreign language and I haven’t in any way ever felt tense when doing so, even right at the beginning.

    But I have noticed over the years that if I happen to find myself in a social situation where drinking is happening and I am joining in, then my tongue does become “looser” and the language flows with apparently greater ease. Words, and more to the point, grammatical constructions bob up that I didn’t even know I knew . What is hard to tell “from the inside” though is whether it just all seems more fluent because one is less in control of what is going on, or whether it really is more fluent.

    There must have been some proper scientific studies about this aspect of language learning…..

    • Genevieve

      Hello, Cestina!

      You said that you had been ‘learning’ Czech for several years (a few weeks a year over there for the first three years and then six months at a time).

      Did you mean that you spent 3-4 CONSECUTIVE weeks in the Czech Republic every year for the first three years, and then spent six months there, six months in your home country, six months there, six months in your home country, six months there, six months in your home country and so on … ? Or have I got it wrong?

      Please explain as I would like to give your way a go as it sounds great!

      Best regards

  • Ashley

    I totally agree with you. Great post! By nature, I happen to be really shy. Without alcohol, I am more than capable of being outgoing. The only thing about going out that I don’t like is everyone else trying to force me to drink. It’s not like I don’t try to force them to stop.
    Being the sober one, I can assure you when people think alcohol makes them more able to speak languages, they’re wrong 99.9% of the time. It makes them *think* they’re more fluent. I notice quite a bit of mistakes they don’t make sober.

  • Ashley

    I totally agree with you. Great post! By nature, I happen to be really shy. Without alcohol, I am more than capable of being outgoing. The only thing about going out that I don’t like is everyone else trying to force me to drink. It’s not like I don’t try to force them to stop.
    Being the sober one, I can assure you when people think alcohol makes them more able to speak languages, they’re wrong 99.9% of the time. It makes them *think* they’re more fluent. I notice quite a bit of mistakes they don’t make sober.

  • mark

    hey there, Benny, Dia duit agus konnichiwa!

    great blog.

    i’m sorry if this has already been addressed, but why not try really observing some of your own language-learning friends while THEY are getting drunk? you can compare their fluency level sober and drunk. do so a few times and, well, maybe it’s not great scientific evidence but you might gain a little insight anyway. i personally think that after say, one drink you’re better off than without, but after that there’s no point. drink slowly and you might have a chance to keep your benefit–say, one drink per hour or less.

    pé scéal é–go raibh míle maith agat as an blag iontach so, agus go n-éiri leat agus do líofacht! mark i Mericeá.

    • Funzdi

      Hello, I do not drink either and I have had plenty of time to observe friends in such circumstances. They certainly believe that they speak better, but I would say that it is the opposite.
      On the other hand, they do speak more, and some of them even feel the urge to speak in a foreign language, even when no foreigner is in sight.

  • mark

    hey there, Benny, Dia duit agus konnichiwa!

    great blog.

    i’m sorry if this has already been addressed, but why not try really observing some of your own language-learning friends while THEY are getting drunk? you can compare their fluency level sober and drunk. do so a few times and, well, maybe it’s not great scientific evidence but you might gain a little insight anyway. i personally think that after say, one drink you’re better off than without, but after that there’s no point. drink slowly and you might have a chance to keep your benefit–say, one drink per hour or less.

    pé scéal é–go raibh míle maith agat as an blag iontach so, agus go n-éiri leat agus do líofacht! mark i Mericeá.

    • Funzdi

      Hello, I do not drink either and I have had plenty of time to observe friends in such circumstances. They certainly believe that they speak better, but I would say that it is the opposite.
      On the other hand, they do speak more, and some of them even feel the urge to speak in a foreign language, even when no foreigner is in sight.

  • ALicia

    HAHAH. Je me souviendrai toujours d’une cuite phénoménale durant laquelle j’ai appris à répéter Me iamo alicia, como te iamas ? (ou dequoi du genre)

    et la première chose que je me suis assurée le lendemain en me réveillant, c’est que j’étais bien encore capable de le dire !!! loll.

    J’oublie jamais ces nuits d’ivresse. ;)

  • ALicia

    HAHAH. Je me souviendrai toujours d’une cuite phénoménale durant laquelle j’ai appris à répéter Me iamo alicia, como te iamas ? (ou dequoi du genre)

    et la première chose que je me suis assurée le lendemain en me réveillant, c’est que j’étais bien encore capable de le dire !!! loll.

    J’oublie jamais ces nuits d’ivresse. ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

    Thanks for all these great comments and the interesting discussion :) All disagreements also appreciated – interesting to hear people defend the other view outside of a pub environment, where I absolutely can’t take them seriously… although I’m still not convinced :P On this occasion, I’ll agree to disagree with those of you who prefer your drink :)
    @mark The post was inspired when I was actually observing my language learning friends as you suggested. They wasted half of the night not trying to speak Czech because they were waiting for beer’s permission.
    I also agree that for some people they simply “think” they speak better, but there’s nothing magical happening, they are just more relaxed (as I said, possibly just because of the placebo effect…) so they’ll speak more. They almost never speak better though. The argument may work for one drink, but definitely not when they are actually drunk.
    The purpose of the article wasn’t really to get people to give up drink, but just to realize that they CAN speak a language even if there isn’t a “glass of wine” in sight ;)

    • Mariebobr

      Hi, I am Czech and I don’t like Czech beer ;-) Actually, I almost do not drink and definitelly not use alcohol for being more sociable. Your post was very interesting and reading the comments even more. I absolutelly agree with your theory about placebo but I do understand the oppositte side as well. It is possible to learn to speak to people and to learn to speak a language even if you are afraid of strangers or of making mistakes. The point is that for some people it is that difficult to practice that they rather choose a smoother way: alcohol. For me it took about two years to forget about being shy and I still experience moments of absolute unwillingness to talk – then I just don’t push it. And some people might have even greater trouble overcoming the bad feeling; I do understand it is much easier to use a bit of alcohol, the question is: does it help for the moment or does it help in the general language-learning process?

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

    Thanks for all these great comments and the interesting discussion :) All disagreements also appreciated – interesting to hear people defend the other view outside of a pub environment, where I absolutely can’t take them seriously… although I’m still not convinced :P On this occasion, I’ll agree to disagree with those of you who prefer your drink :)
    @mark The post was inspired when I was actually observing my language learning friends as you suggested. They wasted half of the night not trying to speak Czech because they were waiting for beer’s permission.
    I also agree that for some people they simply “think” they speak better, but there’s nothing magical happening, they are just more relaxed (as I said, possibly just because of the placebo effect…) so they’ll speak more. They almost never speak better though. The argument may work for one drink, but definitely not when they are actually drunk.
    The purpose of the article wasn’t really to get people to give up drink, but just to realize that they CAN speak a language even if there isn’t a “glass of wine” in sight ;)

    • Mariebobr

      Hi, I am Czech and I don’t like Czech beer ;-) Actually, I almost do not drink and definitelly not use alcohol for being more sociable. Your post was very interesting and reading the comments even more. I absolutelly agree with your theory about placebo but I do understand the oppositte side as well. It is possible to learn to speak to people and to learn to speak a language even if you are afraid of strangers or of making mistakes. The point is that for some people it is that difficult to practice that they rather choose a smoother way: alcohol. For me it took about two years to forget about being shy and I still experience moments of absolute unwillingness to talk – then I just don’t push it. And some people might have even greater trouble overcoming the bad feeling; I do understand it is much easier to use a bit of alcohol, the question is: does it help for the moment or does it help in the general language-learning process?

  • http://www.pluginid.com/ Glen Allsopp

    This post made me laugh.

    Benny, you definitely seem like the kind of guy I would like to party with. The type that doesn’t need permission from others (or alcohol) to have a good time!

    If you’re ever in Amsterdam, let me know.
    .-= Glen Allsopp´s last blog ..My 6 Week Challenge: Learning About Myself =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Cheers Glen!! I’ll be in Brazil until Christmas, but have yet to decide where I’ll be from January. I thought you were only going to be there for 3 months. Or is it a permanent move?
      Would be a pleasure to meet you when our travels align!

  • http://www.pluginid.com Glen Allsopp

    This post made me laugh.

    Benny, you definitely seem like the kind of guy I would like to party with. The type that doesn’t need permission from others (or alcohol) to have a good time!

    If you’re ever in Amsterdam, let me know.
    .-= Glen Allsopp´s last blog ..My 6 Week Challenge: Learning About Myself =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Cheers Glen!! I’ll be in Brazil until Christmas, but have yet to decide where I’ll be from January. I thought you were only going to be there for 3 months. Or is it a permanent move?
      Would be a pleasure to meet you when our travels align!

  • Marko

    Hahaha– I literally just happened upon this blog today, and I have to say, this is a delightful entry with which to become acquainted with one.

    I once met a Peruvian on a night out after a few beers, and even being out of practice by about a year or two, I managed to unexpectedly wow him with my Castilian. I was proud that I managed to make such good use of Spanish even after so long, but disappointed that I probably wouldn’t have even tried, had I been more sober.

    Nowadays I have little contention with alcohol in small doses, and even now I occasionally do enjoy that evening glass of wine, but that story goes back to a time when I drank a good deal more alcohol, and for all the wrong reasons (of course, that time was university). Point being– alcohol does seem to break down barriers of hesitation for some, but it’s never worth the disappointment. I make it a point not to drink in particularly “social” settings, because I’d rather be proud of what little confidence I can muster up, then how much I can amass just by being dependent on a drink to do all the work.

    That said, I think I’m off to have a morning glass of orange juice in your honor. Glad I found this blog!

  • Marko

    Hahaha– I literally just happened upon this blog today, and I have to say, this is a delightful entry with which to become acquainted with one.

    I once met a Peruvian on a night out after a few beers, and even being out of practice by about a year or two, I managed to unexpectedly wow him with my Castilian. I was proud that I managed to make such good use of Spanish even after so long, but disappointed that I probably wouldn’t have even tried, had I been more sober.

    Nowadays I have little contention with alcohol in small doses, and even now I occasionally do enjoy that evening glass of wine, but that story goes back to a time when I drank a good deal more alcohol, and for all the wrong reasons (of course, that time was university). Point being– alcohol does seem to break down barriers of hesitation for some, but it’s never worth the disappointment. I make it a point not to drink in particularly “social” settings, because I’d rather be proud of what little confidence I can muster up, then how much I can amass just by being dependent on a drink to do all the work.

    That said, I think I’m off to have a morning glass of orange juice in your honor. Glad I found this blog!

  • Luciana

    Ei Benny!
    Como você vai ser carioca se não bebe uma cerva! Rsss
    Aproveita que nossas cervejas tem 0,0001 de alcool!
    Brincadeira menino eu tenho que concordar com você, é possível alcançar o estado mental próprio pra uma festa com um suco de laranja, afinal é mais uma dependência psicológica (nesse caso é claro). Mas eu acredito que é uma convenção social que muitas pessoas usam pra ‘conectar’ umas com as outras. É tipo um rito de passagem, sei lá. Tipo “eu confio na pessoa que eu fico bêbada junto” . No entanto eu já usei a bebida pra ter coragem de praticar meu inglês no início e depois de conquistar alguma confiança parei – não de beber é claro, mas de depender da bebida pra praticar uma lingua! Rss

    • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

      Eu aproveitei muito de suco de laranja no Brasil. Mesmo assim conectei com as outras que ficaram bêbado ao meu lado.

  • Luciana

    Ei Benny!
    Como você vai ser carioca se não bebe uma cerva! Rsss
    Aproveita que nossas cervejas tem 0,0001 de alcool!
    Brincadeira menino eu tenho que concordar com você, é possível alcançar o estado mental próprio pra uma festa com um suco de laranja, afinal é mais uma dependência psicológica (nesse caso é claro). Mas eu acredito que é uma convenção social que muitas pessoas usam pra ‘conectar’ umas com as outras. É tipo um rito de passagem, sei lá. Tipo “eu confio na pessoa que eu fico bêbada junto” . No entanto eu já usei a bebida pra ter coragem de praticar meu inglês no início e depois de conquistar alguma confiança parei – não de beber é claro, mas de depender da bebida pra praticar uma lingua! Rss

  • RayRay

    That's pretty cool that you do not drink! It *sometimes* seems impossible to not to, it's quite a cultural norm consuming the liquid-legal drug. I recall that even as I was growing up, alcohol was a frequent part of my family's gatherings.

    Although I want to share with you a unique situation in which something happened to me that has never happened before. I hadn't thought it plausible.

    My boyfriend is Russian. He speaks English fluently, although with a slight accent. He immigrated to Canada when he was just 17. His parents still reside in Russia and they sadly do not know very much English.

    In an attempt to communicate with them; I've purchased a self-teach Russian book and have been watching Russian cartoons in an attempt to perhaps learn some Russian. My attempts haven't been futile; I've learned about 50 different Russian words. I also attempt speaking with them and we do have long conversations – without either party comprehending.

    But one day, when I was entirely intoxiated, my boyfriend spoke with me in Russian. He claims that he had an entire conversation (with me understanding and responding) in Russian. This conversation is a “black-out” to me. I don't remember it at all. Now, I by NO MEANS push ANYBODY to drink to the point where they can't remember. I also don't recommend drinking everyday. I seldom drink. My boyfriend isn't a liar and has a pretty stable memory.

    Now, keep in mind that my story has nothing to really do with learning Russian. It's very possible that perhaps because I was intoxiated I wasn't conscience about my accent in Russian; and that I wasn't nervous about finding the proper words. It's also possible that I know more Russian than I thought I had. (Hey, I've been hanging around Russians for months and watching Russia media.)

    I just found it funny that it happened. XD

  • stacy

    hey man, basically what you're saying is that you're extroverted as fuck. And that's all great and dandy for you, but some people aren't that way, and they aren't gonna talk until they've had those few beers. And if that helps them, then it's great, and maybe they can learn to be more like you, and not need the booze, but the booze is a tool that they are using, and there's nothing wrong with that.
    Normally I enjoy your articles, but this one sounds like you're saying, “hey, look at me, I have an absurdly extroverted personality so I don't to drink to make as ass of myself”. It makes the rest of us who probably do need to drink to do be friendly like you are naturally feel shitty. Alcohol's a tool, and it's fun, but if you don't need that tool then you don't have to knock on people that do.
    Also, not gonna lie, it's pretty creepy when guys don't drink. You're putting yourself at an unfair advantage in terms of looking for that special someone for the night, and a sober guy can really easily take advantage of drunk girls/guys. If that's not you, I apologize.

  • Lan

    Wow, did you really read all this in his post? I didn't interpret it like this at all. The fact is that there really is something called peer pressure, and he's probably making a statement against it, in a way. I'm a non-drinker because, as an Asian, my metabolism doesn't help and I feel sick after just one beer. My social life would be so much better if I could actually hold my drink and just “blend in” with my friends who drink a lot. It's tough to explain that I don't drink, and being known as that person who doesn't drink and being made fun of, etc. etc. Anyway, regardless of my or anyone's reasons for not drinking, I have to say that it's pretty annoying that so many people just don't respect those who don't drink! My guess is that Benny just had his share in life of getting peer pressure to do something that he simply doesn't want to do, and that he wrote this post to show that maybe drinking is overrated sometimes… I think it was a very encouraging text for me, I felt great seeing that there are other people who don't drink (although for different reasons) and just don't care about what others think! I'd like to reach that level of confidence! Either that or just get the necessary enzymes to metabolize alcohol :D

    With that said (to stacy), from my own experience of drinking my half-beer, getting fully drunk and speaking a foreign language, what I can remember is that it does help you to speak more, but not necessarily better… those were my two cents. ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Sober guys take advantage of drunk girls? That is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. Drunk guys are by far more likely to take advantage and ABUSE girls. I don't know what cave you have been living in if you think otherwise.
    In my own case I've never brought a girl home drunk. How I chat up girls means that they haven't ever even had one drink if we go on to the next level. I don't use nightclubs and bars for this as I find drunk girls extremely un-sexy – the furthest I would go in that situation would be to ask for a number and try to get to know her when she isn't under the influence. It's sad that people can't think outside of the box if they are looking for a partner and think the only way in the world to meet them is where they are intoxicated. I'm amazed you've actually suggested that drunk guys are morally superior to sober guys.
    The rest of your response just shows pure laziness in not trying to be social until you have beer's permission and I've already responded to these typical answers in this post. The only reason I'm so extroverted is because I used to be very shy, but I decided to WORK on the problem, get over my fear to meet new people and learn to be social. The time this investment takes is longer than the 2 seconds it takes to drink a beer, so most people take the lazy route. I understand it, but alcohol is not a tool. It's a chemical product that damages your liver and your brain cells.
    When you say ridiculous things like drunk guys being more prince charming than sober guys you give me the very ammunition I need to “knock on those of us who do need a drink”. You're just inventing excuses at that stage and clinging at straws to prove me wrong.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks for your response Lan :)
    I'm glad you can see what I was talking about with peer pressure. My metabolism could handle drink but I choose not to. This decision gets on people's nerves a lot…
    My solution to avoid getting made fun of etc. is to avoid the issue altogether. I've worked really hard over the last years on the typical psychological issues we naturally have for being introvert and it means that when I'm out I am very relaxed and talk to everyone. Sadly they presume I'm drunk based on this (despite the fact that I'm very lucid), but luckily it means the “not-drinking” issue never comes up, since I never raise it.
    I find responses like Stacy's frustrating because it belittles all of the work and embarrassment I had to go through in the last years to get here and seem “naturally extroverted”. Like I have a magic power out of reach of mere mortals or something. I'm not saying that it's not hard work, but when you are willing to make that investment the lifelong benefits are amazing :)
    You're right that this post was inspired by the continued peer pressure I get when people discover that I don't drink. I am happy to have people tell me that I'm wrong, but after over a decade of socialising with drunk people I have yet to get a logical argument after they say that. Stacy's drunk-prince-charming claim is a funny example (and admittedly, the first time I've seen it), but people will invent any nonsensical argument to defend a way of life they've had for decades. I would be equally stubborn about not wanting to give up pizzas or chocolate for example.
    I won't force people not to drink, but on my blog people have to accept that I'm going to give you the cold hard facts of why I don't think you should ;) When I'm out, I generally avoid this discussion unless someone gets aggressive about it.

  • Stutz

    It's nice to hear about someone else who simply doesn't drink. I am like that, too: no, it's not for religious or moral reasons, I just find nothing particularly enjoyable about it. Some people seem to find being drunk on a par with sex for the amount of fun it is, and they're incredulous that you don't. I have allowed myself to bow to peer pressure and get drunk (or nearly so) on three occasions (I'm 29). It was only somewhat entertaining, and far, far less satisfying than having a great conversation with a group of friends — and conversation doesn't give you a headache in the morning. And like you, I find the taste of beer revolting. Most wine tastes as I imagine battery acid might taste, and gives me heartburn like I imagine drinking battery acid might. Likewise for hard alcohol. Needless to say, my drunk experiences relied heavily on sweet mixed cocktails.

    The thing you have going for you, unlike myself, is that you seem to be an extrovert: the first to sing karaoke or get on the dance floor, as you say. I'm a born introvert, find dancing tedious and awkward (especially in night clubs, which are generally obnoxious), am bored and uncomfortable in bars (the local pub isn't quite the center of the social scene here in the US as I'm told it is in the UK/Ireland), and am similarly bored and uncomfortable at parties. Lucky for me, at my age most of my friends are married with kids, and have grown out of the night clubs/bars/parties phase of life!

  • http://www.dreaming-in-italian.com/ ER

    “* They don’t actually speak it better, but think that they do.
    * They lose their inhibitions and feel more confident and less worried about making mistakes.
    * They stop thinking so much and just speak, without hesitating to search for the “right” word
    * They are usually shy, but suddenly become extrovert thanks to the alcohol”

    Wow, those all applied to me. I have always been introverted and sometimes find it difficult to be outgoing in social situations, and I would almost always use alcohol as a crutch. When I was drinking a lot in Italy, I distinctly remember feeling really good about my Italian-speaking abilities after a few drinks. It was like it would just roll off my tongue. Looking back on it now, it's pretty clear that I just didn't feel as inhibited or self-conscious as I would sober.

    Luckily, I've been sober for over 18 months now and like you said, Benny, I can now remember all of my traveling experiences. I felt awkward going out at first, but then I realized that no one really cares whether I'm drinking or not, and life is a lot better (and healthier) now. Now I just focus on mental ways to loosen up, and it's been working pretty well. Cheers,

    ER

  • http://www.facebook.com/alysia.raine Alysia Christina Raine

    Hey Benny,

    I totally know what you mean. I love hanging with my friends at the bar while they're drunk and I'm sober. I used to be a heavy drinker back when i was studying at university, but since then I've developed an allergic reaction to alcohol, so now I can't have any, which is definitely fine with me. I feel a lot healthier these days and I've saved so much money!

  • Dddddddddddd

    Hi Benny,

    I'm portuguese and also don't drink. Ever…

    When I'm asked why, it always turns to a boring conversation. Like if I'm preaching my moral superiorty or something.

    As an Astérix fan, I had the chance to use your Obélix story and I got a laugh from a pretty blonde girl :)

    Hope you don't mind but I'll always use from now on.

    Grande abraço de Portugal,
    D

  • Dasha

    Benny, I know that you've posted this article days y days ago :) but I've just found the post from the russian blog, where they tell about drinking and learning languages. actually, it's the translation of your post into russian.
    if you didn't see it yet, i leave you the link
    http://lingvomania.info/2010/poliglotu-etanol.html

    saludos!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Hi Dasha!
    Thanks for your comment – I ran that article through google translate (since I don't speak Russian yet), and it's actually not the translation of my post. It's an interesting agreement with what I said, written entirely by the author, so I'm happy to see it! Thanks for letting me know ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    That's great! Hope the Astérix story helps you and makes it more interesting :D

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Yeah it's great – I'm all about going out and dancing, but there's no need for all of us to be drinking ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks for sharing your story! It's great to see how you are doing fine without alcohol ;) We have all of this social potential within us without needing the crutch of alcohol! :)

  • Abby

    I know this is really late, but I appreciate what you've said here. I agree that alcohol is unnecessary for a good time. In high school, I played in a marching band, and we went to all of the high school (American) football to play a half-time show. If our team was up, we were all in a great mood, cheering and screaming, no booze required. Even me, a known introvert and least likely to “go crazy.”
    I don't mind occasionally drinking, but I wouldn't do it just to release my inhibitions. I like your OJ idea, though. Might give it a try sometime.

  • j_a3

    Hello Mr. Lewis,

    Though I admire your post's premise, namely, that one need not drink to speak, I find that my German becomes much more fluid over a single Hefeweisen, than without one–one beer would surely rule out the “I really speak like crap, but I think I speak well” effect. I learned my german mostly while speaking with natives in Germany, always with hefeweisen-in-hand.

    I am vaguely familiar with research suggesting that knowledge is blood-alcohol specific, some going so far as to suggest that one should keep learning conditions the same as testing conditions. For example, for those who smoke while studying, smoking before a test would be advantageous.

    Therefore I am curious to see if you incorporate or notice some specific things that aid your language fluidity that are reminiscent of the time you originally learned it.

    • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

      Interesting thought. Smell is known to work that way, so I wonder if there’s a connection.

  • Matt

    It's funny, but in all of this, nobody seems to have made the point I'd like to make: I drink beer (and wine and occasionally other things) because I like it. I'm not going to claim it makes me any better at any languages though… nor do I insist that you like it.

  • Emĉjo

    Sal kara,

    Pretty interesting actually, I realized reading the post that I actually always behave like I'm drunk when speaking some other languages, like czech (wich I can , a bit) or polish (wich I almost can't), mixing slang wiht politeness, speaking to unknown people, and so on.
    Thus, I believe alcohol does change something, and is able to change the state of mind for a day and get consciousness of all this shy-beeing / mistake-fear matter of fact, this consciousness may stay on a longer time.

    Fakte mi iom surpriziĝas ankaŭ ke nun vi igis vian aferon komercaĵo kaj volas vendi iun metodon por lerni lingvojn. Nu, mi kredas ke iuj homoj ja bezonas konsilojn, ĉu ne? Ne ĉiu lernis aŭ volas lerni E-on.
    Ĝenerale mi volas diri al vi, mmh, certe mi ĵaluzas pri via scipovo de tiom da lingvoj, kaj samtempe, nu, iel vi hezitas franclingve, kaj eĉ esperante ofte erarumas. Do mi volas diri al vi ke oni bezonas pli ol 3 monatojn.
    Mi mem post unu monato en Ĉeĥio povis babileti (mi lernis ĉeĥan proks. samrapide kiel vi, mi kredas), mi samopinias ke la komenco rapidas, nu, sed post unu jaro kaj duono en Germanio mi daŭre lernas kaj lernas novajn vortojn. Kaj mi nur post tuta jaro estis “flua”, sed eĉ nun mi ne konsideras min flua, kvankam mi parolas kun mi mem preskaŭ nur germane. Do, mmh… Sed mi kredas ke plejparte mi ĵaluzas vian sukceson. Sufiĉe malmature.
    Mach mit Sprachen weiter, irgendwann reden wir deutsch miteinander.

    See you,

    Emĉjo (Cassandra)

  • Nic

    Ha, it reminds me how I forced you to just “taste” the spritz in Italy… :D

    Nic

  • Rom

    Hey Benny,
    I’m very interested in starting to learn your guide to languages, but I was curious if you had Russian available??
    Sposibo,
    Rob

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      The Russian translation is almost ready and will be added (as a free update) in a few weeks ;) The price will be raised then though for new purchasers.

  • http://twitter.com/JakePendragon Diego T. Guimarães

    É, cara… Sou muçulmano, então simplesmente não possso beber… Então o negócio é café forte e puro (sem açúcar) ou limonada suiça (sem açúcar também)… Isso que é bom… Mas suco de laranja não é má pedida também… :D

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Viu? ;) Eu gosto da vitimina C pra festejar :D

  • http://twitter.com/Catrino Alejandro Cabrera

    Que tal, soy Alex de Puebla, México.
    Tienes mucha razón sobre como las personas empiezan a hablar en otro idioma cuando estas “hasta atras”, hoy y por pura casualidad empece a ver tu trabajo y tu filosofia sobre el aprender idiomas, y en verdad es inspirador, desde la escuela estuve estudiando ingles y puedo decir que domino la lectura y la comprensión pero me cuesta hablar con otros, sobre todo por ese “miedo” a equivocarme. Espero que con tus consejos pueda en poco tiempo dominar de una vez por todas mi ingles y comenzar con otro idioma.

    Muchas Gracias. Saludos.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Mucha suerte Alex!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Ha! That’s a funny ultimatum :D I’ll have to remember it :P

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    There are a lot of people who don’t drink! They just aren’t very voicy because the drunkards get all the attention ;)
    Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Queroooo :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Queroooo :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Queroooo :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Queroooo :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    It’s just insecurity. The best way around it is to not bring any attention to it. I go out and have fun and have *something* in my hand. Even a Coke or OJ makes them feel better – they usually start ranting and raving only if my hands are empty. It depends on the culture though. Many don’t dare annoy you if you simply say you don’t drink.

    • http://twitter.com/chavaevy Evelyn MacPhee

      Thank you! I will try that.

  • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

    No one notices whether you’re drinking or not when they can’t peel you away from the dance floor.

  • http://delw.in/ Delwin Campbell

    Delightful post. I don’t drink as well — which, as you can imagine, is difficult for a college student! — and it’s nice to see there are others out there. My drink of choice is ginger beer, which combines the burning sensation of ginger with the sugar and carbonation mouthfeel of a soft drink. It’s too strong for most of my friends, and sadly, it’s rare to find (the more mild ginger ALE can be found, but once you’ve had ginger beer, there is no compromise), but I can’t get enough of it.

    I also love all kinds of juices — orange, cranberry, apple, carrot, lime, lemonade, even this weird mix of kale/carrots/apples/tomatoes/spinach that seems to be popular — especially mixed in with a little seltzer. I loved your story about OJ at the bar, that’s hilarious.

    It’s hopeless to convince others why drinking is not necessary though. Time and time again I’ve seen college students get “drunk” on two or three cans of a cheap light beer (that no doubt tastes like shit!). I get as happily drunk as they do on green tea. It’s a kind of pathetic thing to see, people relying on alcohol to make a party happen, people thinking that there cannot be fun without beer. But what can you do?

    Anyway, great as always to hear your stories! :)

    • http://twitter.com/chavaevy Evelyn MacPhee

      I am delighted to be reminded that I am not the only one who doesn’t drink.

      I love all the stories.

  • http://delw.in/ Delwin Campbell

    Delightful post. I don’t drink as well — which, as you can imagine, is difficult for a college student! — and it’s nice to see there are others out there. My drink of choice is ginger beer, which combines the burning sensation of ginger with the sugar and carbonation mouthfeel of a soft drink. It’s too strong for most of my friends, and sadly, it’s rare to find (the more mild ginger ALE can be found, but once you’ve had ginger beer, there is no compromise), but I can’t get enough of it.

    I also love all kinds of juices — orange, cranberry, apple, carrot, lime, lemonade, even this weird mix of kale/carrots/apples/tomatoes/spinach that seems to be popular — especially mixed in with a little seltzer. I loved your story about OJ at the bar, that’s hilarious.

    It’s hopeless to convince others why drinking is not necessary though. Time and time again I’ve seen college students get “drunk” on two or three cans of a cheap light beer (that no doubt tastes like shit!). I get as happily drunk as they do on green tea. It’s a kind of pathetic thing to see, people relying on alcohol to make a party happen, people thinking that there cannot be fun without beer. But what can you do?

    Anyway, great as always to hear your stories! :)

  • Will Cheatham

    It’s a consensus among health experts now that drinking 1 drink a day for  women or 2 drinks a day for men is actually healthier than not drinking; it decreases the risk of many health problems later in life, including, paradoxically, dementia. And ‘drink’ means any alcoholic drink, not just red wine; the alcohol is a good thing in small amounts.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    You’ve been a bit hypocritical in this post, saying that I’m “so intent on convincing others”, and then expressing how I’m not curious enough or worldly enough and should really have given in my now at least just once.

    Otherwise thanks for the comment.

  • Noemie Bauduin

    Love the OJ story !!!
    I’m actually one of those persons who have to drink to feel more confident and speak foreign languages, and I’m not really proud of it, but sometimes it can help…and the day after, I feel more confident to try it without drinking any kinds of alcohol :)

  • guest

    I came upon this article googling “drinking and foreign languages” after having my own positive experiences with the combination. I didn’t start drinking until a couple of months ago for reasons similar to yours. However, having allowed myself the chance to try it, I can personally attest to the fact that, as someone who drinks (a little), loves foreign languages (a lot), and has never been hungover or blacked out (ever), drinking and speaking foreign languages is just a lot of fun.

    Sure, doing it sober is fun, too. It’s just a different experience to do it while inebriated– one that’s certainly worth experiencing at least once. For me, it just accentuates the mental ecstasy I experience while dancing through different tongues. You may claim that this feeling is achievable while sober but I can honestly say that it’s not. It’s a feeling that is poetic, beautiful, and, indeed, almost universal, judging from both the comments and personal anecdotes. 
    Comparing drinking orange juice to alcohol intoxication is not only intuitively fallacious but also ignores the neurochemical basis for alcohol’s effects, which you acknowledge but seem to dismiss as irrelevant. Just because it’s a “state of mind” doesn’t mean it can be self-induced, and the same is true for other such neurochemical states. Drinking is seen as social precisely because of its neurochemical effects; it’s not some kind of coincidental societal arbitrariness. Also, it’s possible to get a little tipsy without getting as drunk as you seem to be talking about, and more often than not that’s enough to do the trick!Too much of anything is a bad thing, and that certainly applies alcohol. Nonetheless, as a fellow language lover, I highly encourage you to experience this at least once!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    Thanks Christine :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    In that study, was a non-alcoholic placebo used as a control? Most of the time it’s always about drinking vs not drinking, which is a very different social dynamic with too many parameters to say that it’s the alcohol itself that’s helping if people are indeed more confident.
    I still say it’s the placebo effect.

    • AM

      Hi, Benny.

      I think you’ve been a bit too dismissive in your response to Chael (and in your overall opinion of scientists, it seems).

      In the roughly 50 comments I read through, Chael’s was clearly the one that shed the most light on the topic of your post. I really do admire your can-do attitude, but please try harder not to let your stance on this or any other issue blind you to contravening evidence. Avoiding confirmation bias is difficult (for everyone), but is worth doing.

      Science, and not anecdotes and personal experience, is the best way to learn what is true. …and yes, controlling for placebo effect is standard practice in science.

      I believe I have found a report on the experiment Chael mentioned. Yes, the experiment was placebo-controlled. No, the advantage obtained by study participants who received alcohol was not placebo effect.

      All you had to do (all I needed to do) was a quick search:


      Guiora et at. (1972) examined the effect of alcohol to test a hypothesis regarding inhibitions against pronouncing foreign languages authentically. Perceptual evaluations indicated that adult subjects who imitated Thai speech material ten minutes after ingesting 1–1.5 oz of alcohol did so better than subjects who received a placebo; these, in turn, did so better than subjects who consumed 2–3 oz of alcohol.

      Based on that, the real answer to:

      “Does drinking help you speak a foreign language?”

      is:

      “Yes (but only with very few drinks).”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Asiyah-FreeThinking-Humanist/100002498583217 Asiyah FreeThinking Humanist

    As a non-drinker I enjoyed reading this article. Not so much for the advice on how it drinking affects(or doesn’t) the ability to learn a language but it is refreshing to hear from someone who shares the same principles I do about drinking. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/chavaevy Evelyn MacPhee

    I know PLENTY of people with this problem. I also AM one of the people with this problem. I was married for a while to a rock musician and I wore earplugs to his gigs. The more he played and didn’t wear earplugs, the more of his hearing he lost. This proved to be a social and expensive problem.

    You are SO not alone.

    I love my solitude, too.

    Speaking or attempting to speak a foreign language also makes me tired. And some of those kind people for whom English was not a first language got tired when they tried to speak English to me for any length of time.

    I am pretty good at handwaving and projecting meaning, it seems.

    Have fun, wherever!

  • http://twitter.com/chavaevy Evelyn MacPhee

    When I embraced not drinking, in France, even., I found I had more trouble with people trying to force, coerce or persuade me to drink when I didn’t want to.

    I didn’t think the article was arrogant or trying to persuade people not to drink. To me it seemed like it was sharing personal experience, which I always enjoy.

    Currently, one of my medications has a side effect of possible seizures with consumption of alcohol. I ABSOLUTELY do not want to have a seizure in public or in private. Good grief!

  • http://twitter.com/chavaevy Evelyn MacPhee

    Your placebo is one of my favorites.

  • http://askandembla.com Nik Matt

    I’m not sure if this has been pointed out yet (as reading 111 comments on any website will usually just end up making me very annoyed), but your Asterix & Obelix analogy would mean you’re drunk all of the time. Asterix has a potion to become super-strong (or drunk, in this case), and Obelix is always super-strong (or drunk).

  • http://www.facebook.com/DAAWDM Denise A Wz

    I came across your blog here through a different link my husband shared, and I have been enjoying reading your thoughts. This entry, in particular, is very interesting to me. I will say simply that I am a drinker, and I have had both positive and negative experiences with alcohol and language (humorous in hindsight, mostly, though). Up until reading your thoughts here, I haven’t had any reason to explore the question of connection (if there really is one) between alcohol and communication (I want to emphasize *communication* here because it’s more than about just speaking, if that makes sense).

    I know I am WAY late entering this discussion, and I want to take some time to absorb the different thoughts I’ve read here. I’ve read a few comments that I personally identify with more than others; however, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a situation where a non-drinker was pushed to drink alcohol (though that may have to do with my own social circle, and we are all very accepting/non-judgmental people at the outset). I have a dear friend who, for reasons I’ve never asked, is a complete non-drinker. I respect that choice tremendously…as I respect everyone’s right to their choice, whatever their choice may be (and on much more than this particular subject).

    I am a naturally open and outgoing person, always have been. I am married to a man who, like you, is more “naturally” introverted, but has learned to be a lot more open in social settings. He and you are both (FAR) better traveled than I am, though I have been very fortunate to have traveled a lot (and am looking forward to more down the line). I drink more alcohol than my husband, admittedly, depending on setting (he prefers Coke, usually) ~ and I can go for weeks without touching a drop of alcohol. In that, I simply *enjoy* alcohol for itself, and I enjoy non-alcoholic drinks, too. (Mmmmm….OJ….)

    I mention all of this mainly because I think that *becoming/training to be* outgoing is such a big part of socialization and communication that is entirely outside of the topic of alcohol. And I mentioned all of it to get to this…

    There is another angle to alcohol and communication that I haven’t seen anyone comment to. I can speak to, first hand, the simple fact that alcohol has, in certain situations, smoothed my uncertain tongue in terms of speaking in a different language — and I say that as someone who is not in any way shy, or typically uncertain about my words. I *think* in most settings, I’m fairly confident and am comfortable enough in my own skin that speaking …and attempting to communicate in another language… is something that doesn’t *usually* bother me (my husband is Dutch, so I will admit sheepishly to a bit of embarrassment about my inability thus far to pursue the language; my study schedule hasn’t really allowed for much until *very* recently). Any lack of confidence I might have -I really do not believe- would be affected one way or the other by consumption of alcohol…because drinking alcohol is, itself, situational. Moods are fluid…and everyone experiences what they feel differently — and not necessarily consistently. So alcohol can (and often does) enhance whatever is in *that* moment…and not always in a positive ways.

    The example that comes to my mind is the (American) military. These are men and women who travel, sometimes extensively, into other countries to live (I say this, too, as the daughter of a retiree and as an ex-wife of a retiree). The U.S. military is -culturally- very “alcoholic”, and by this, I mean that although drinking is not explicitly encouraged, there is almost always alcohol at social events. However, in all the different countries where members of the military (and sometimes their families) live, that alcohol culture does not necessarily translate into better communication with locals in “name-the-location” — and if anything, translates into far worse.

    I guess my point of this overall ramble is that *everyone* has a unique way of approaching communication…and everyone has their views about alcohol (to drink, to not drink, when and where is “appropriate” to drink, etc etc etc). Do I think that alcohol and communication *can* be served well together? Yes. Is that always the case? No.

    Do I think your approach is really terrific? Hell yes, I do. I’m one of those folks who may not *share* your view where alcohol is concerned (and that’s okay), but I completely respect your absolute right to that choice, for all of the reasons you named.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna pour a glass of wine. Reading about all this booze is makin’ me want some. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/harlin.seritt.9 Harlin Seritt

    Most drinkers believe it or not, drink responsibly — the ones who go out and have 1-4 drinks in one night and that is it. If they do that and they enjoy it, it is ok if they do and ok to encourage them to enjoy themselves. The other drinkers who drink too much obviously should be doing OJ shots. If Benny prefers OJ shots over booze then so be it. I definitely don’t see the harm in it either way as long as you know you’re responsible for your own actions (even if you are drunk). Cheers!

  • Alex

    Wow.This is so true…I google’d it and BANG.It’s my case.I’m usually not confident when speaking my second language english(even though i’m pretty good at it)But when i’m drunk,it just comes out automatically,don’t commit mistakes and i feel like i’m speaking it perfectly.I guess i have to stop being so negative and stop worrying about the mistakes or what people might say.Thank you for this article :)

  • http://twitter.com/atlasatlasphere atlasphere

    And yet another perspective on this topic…

    THE FIFTH PRECEPT: DIET FOR A MINDFUL SOCIETY by Thich Nhat Hanh

    Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to
    cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my
    family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and
    consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being
    and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body
    and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use
    alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that
    contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films
    and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my
    consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my
    parents, my society and future generations. I will work to transform
    violence, fear, anger and confusion in myself and in society by
    practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a
    proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the
    transformation of society.

  • http://www.blessedisthekingdom.com Fr. Christian Mathis

    Agree that it is confidence, rather than alcohol, that best helps someone to speak a language. That and not being afraid to make mistakes so that others can correct them!

  • Anna 89

    I found the man for me! :D (just kidding) But I have to say that I do agree with you! And I always think about Obelix when people want me to drink. ^_^ I like your posts. Congratulations! Anna

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Glad you are enjoying them :)

  • Anthony

    I realize how old this post is but I have to say, Benny, this post and your reply to the comments is possibly the best thing I’ve ever read on the internet! I only found your website today and being from County Cavan myself, I was shocked to find out that someone so inspirational like you are too. I also don’t drink and have had everybody I’ve met trying to convince me to do otherwise for years now yet they never have a good excuse as to why I should. I agree with absolutely everything you said here and I’m so glad to find someone else on the “sober team”! I’m looking forward to learning a lot on your website! :D

  • Bhavna Vanan

    Hi there, I completely agree with you! I don’t drink either because I don’t need to! I don’t need to drink because I am already a good dancer, singer, joker, happy person, etc. Some Introverts swear by alcohol saying it have them the social skills needed to advance forward. But remove the alcohol and they are still the same scared little person. Whereas if you work at your confidence and conversation, dance, singing skills without alcohol, over time you will actually improve and you don’t need anything to get started! It’s like dumbo and the magic feather!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katleen-Rousseau/754065649 Katleen Rousseau

    oh wow!! :) I’ve just reconised myself in that text!!! …. the communication part. The Obelix part. Even the orange juice part ^^’ hahaha!! …still, I’m too curious to taste different things to be a complete non drinker of alcool, but you get the idea :)
    I’ve discovered your blog a few days ago, and I can’t get enough! :)
    And, btw, I’m from Québec, and I found your ”How to speak french like a quebecker” post very fun and great!! :) well done! keep going!

  • Katie Richey

    Hi Benny!

    I just discovered your “language hacking” blog today and I love your encouraging posts! I lived in Japan for a few years and eventually felt comfortable with my limited level of Japanese since I could get around and have some friendly conversations with natives, but always felt inferior when stuck-up expats bragged about how much kanji they could read or how much slang or other non-necessary words they had picked up. It made me feel like I really had no fluency at all around them, which overshadowed the fact that I could actually have a great time in Japanese with native speakers! Native speakers actually never made me feel bad about my skills, it was
    always the non-native speakers who felt they had something to prove.

    So I really appreciate your perspective of foreign language fluency and that communication is most important, not test levels. Also, I don’t drink and feel the same way you do about it. So cheers for the great blog and I am excited to read more!!

  • Bella

    Great blog! It’s really Interesting getting your perspective on all of this. I’ll say this about alcohol (for me, personally). I don’t think I speak better with alcohol now, but there was a time when I’d been speaking Latin for a little while and it helped me break through. I too am a naturally shy person who has learned how to be extroverted, but I think there was still some internal register keeping me from speaking as I really could. I had an unusually large passive knowledge of my language (13 years of intensive study), and alcohol released the floodgates on it. Now, I prefer not to drink when I am speaking as I find it a distraction, but for about 2-3 nights two years ago, it made all the difference in the world. Another difference is that it was my first true spoken second language (I’d learned and spoken German, Spanish and Russian when younger and in immersion environments, but never got to a point where it stuck beyond the immersion experience), and I think I needed that boost to get past the point I’d gotten in other languages (all learned before I’d ever been tipsy in my life).

  • melike

    Hi
    Great article;) I agree with you. English is my foreign language,my mistake is thinking in my native language first then I translate it to English,so it causes me not to speak fluently. All my concern is trying to put right words to right order but I always fail.When I am drunk and speak, I know I speak better, cause I never think , just try to communicate, I have been trying to solve my English problem for a while. I ‘ve found few solutions. And decided to do that if I can imitate myself as if I am drunk :) and observed that how babies speak, they imitate their relatives and I am watching series with English subtitles and trying to repeat them with their accent. It begins to work for me :)

    Thankssssss

  • Jon Markle

    What a refreshing chat about travel sans alcohol! Thank you.

  • Holly Keenan

    Dude, you are fricking awesome. You’re a non-drinking vegetarian just like me! I must admit, after reading your blog for a little while, I assumed that the way you made so many friends in your travels must be through sharing the popular pastime of alcohol consumption. As a non-drinker myself, you can’t imagine how relieved I am to hear otherwise. I always felt like maybe I was “missing out” on what many of my friends maintain is an essential experience when meeting up with locals our age in other countries. Glad to hear this is not the case :-)

  • ~Ti

    thanks Bennie! I love meeting new people and I’m getting excited about travelling to learn new languages- starting with french in france. I was just worried about being forced to drink by society when i travel. Drinking doesnt fit in with me either bcos i dont need it at all to socialise and its just who i am not to be interested! so its great reading a blog of a polyglot who has great travel experiences without bending to rules of soceity!

  • Simon James Pryor

    J’ai trouvé que, ayant bu trop, c’est-à-dire plus de plusieurs boissons, je pense que je peux parler mieux mais j’oublie ce que je veux dire et je manque la vocabulaire pour le dire. En général, je ne pense pas qu’être ivre aide la conversation même si on risque parler plus et avec plus d’assurence. Je ne partage pas avec votre point de vue que c’est simplement un “placebo”, parce qu’on fait grand-chose quand on est ivre qu’on ne ferait pas sans alcool, à part de parler en langues étrangères. Moi, j’ai vu plein de gens qui ont faits des choses incroyablement stupides après un ou deux boissons. Bien sûr que je ne parle pas d’expérience!

  • Juan Camilo Yanquen

    Hi Benny:

    Just found your blog, seems very interesting for me. I’m learning english and portuguese (my native language is Spanish). Here in Bogota (Colombia) we have an event every tuesday for “language interchange” in a Bar, I think my english flows better with two beers and less than five…. :D

    Hasta luego.

    Juan Camilo.