Does alcohol help you speak a foreign language better?
I'll tell you the answer to that question in today's video.
So let me tell you a little story about the first semester I taught at a university in Korea.
So this was about my very first week, and the main class
that we have is a speaking class. It's kind of like your
homeroom class. These are the students that you teach
every day and you really get to know them.
So, at the end of that first week I had gone out to the convenient store to get something
and when I was walking back, I noticed my speaking
class was at a restaurant next to the convenient store.
So I saw them. They saw me. They were waving at me,
so I went in to say hello.
Now, these are university students so the table was just
covered in these green Soju bottles.
And Soju is...just the...probably the most popular alcoholic drink in Korea.
I sat down and we started talking and...
You know...they were a little more chatty.
I think most of them had a little bit to drink.
But the one person that really stood out was the girl to my left
whose English name was Ellen.
So Ellen was very shy and reserved. She really didn't speak that
much in class. She only spoke when spoken to.
So that night, I learned something. I learned that
Ellen was by far the most competent speaker in the class.
She just kept talking. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.
In fact, she wouldn't stop talking.
She was asking me about travel, what I thought about Korea, and even the other students
were asking her questions about how to say things in English.
But the thing is that night Ellen was pumped up
on the liquid courage of Soju.
That it had lowered her inhibitions...she did not
care about making mistakes. She just wanted to speak.
So one could probably come to the conclusion
that alcohol helped her speaking.
And yes. One could make that argument.
However, it's not entirely true.
The answer of really what was going on is a little more complex.
And that's what I want to talk to you about.
First, in order to understand what was happening that night.
We need to take a little more in-depth look at the speaking process.
So within the circles of language learning,
there is this theory called the Affective Filter Hypothesis,
which was developed by this guy named Stephen Krashen.
When you're learning a new language, you are
receiving the information, and then you're producing what you know.
But according to Krashen, there is this filter that we
put up that can make this process a little more difficult.
Because there are emotional factors that can affect our ability to learn.
These are all negative factors that affect our ability to learn a language.
Essentially, these factors raise our filter
and can block out the information we're trying to take in.
And it can also block the language that we're trying to produce.
Therefore, we need to lower our filters
so that the message get through.
That way we can learn more about a language
and then we can produce more of it as well.
So what do teachers do to lower a student's filter?
Well, you hear all sorts of ideas.
I'm sure a lot of students like that last one.
Basically, we need a low stress environment like this one...
But what if we can't all learn a language while at the beach?
So how else can we lower our anxiety?
I got an idea.
So now you should have a better idea
about how this is connected.
Drinking alcohol lowers people's anxiety.
This lowers our filter, and we become more
relaxed and comfortable when it comes to speaking.
Even if we're speaking a foreign language.
However, there are some serious drawbacks
to drinking and learning.
Let me give you three.
Number one - any positive effects you feel alcohol is
giving you from speaking is only temporary.
And the last thing you want to do is to rely on alcohol to speak.
Number two - grammar and pronunciation mistakes
that you make while drinking may become ingrained
bad habits that you might continue to make when you become sober.
Number three - drinking is just...it's not a very healthy activity.
And the bottom line is that the seemingly positive
effects that you think you might get from drinking alcohol
are not due to alcohol whatsoever.
They're due to the confidence in your own speaking ability.
That means that everything that you need
is already inside you. You just got to let it out.
Here are four ways that you can lower your anxiety
to help make you a more confident speaker.
Number one - don't expect perfection from yourself.
You need to realize that you're going to make mistakes
and that is perfectly okay. It's part of the language learning process.
If you're speaking to somebody and they correct you,
then try to keep that in mind and you move on.
And if you're speaking to somebody and they don't understand you,
then...you know, that's okay as well. It's going to happen.
Just try to express your thoughts or your ideas in a different way.
Number two - don't let your nervousness make you even more nervous.
Try to channel any nervousness into another emotion
like excitement. Because every time that you speak
you're getting to practice. You're getting to use the language
because that's how you improve and continue learning.
Number three - avoid translating all of your thoughts.
Don't try to think of every single little word that you want
to say before you actually speak.
Just think of the idea of what you want to say,
that's perfectly fine, but then just try and say it.
And let it come out naturally and unrehearsed.
Number four - identify what you think makes you anxious.
Because when you have a clear understanding of what
makes you anxious, then you have a better chance of
reducing anxiety. So what you can do is just take
a journal, you can write this information down, and then
go back and reflect on why it's making you anxious
and then it will help you in the future reduce that anxiety.
Okay, I hope some of this information helps.
And I hope it helps you become a better speaker.
And become a better speaker without having to drink alcohol.
In the comments below, let us know what challenges
you face when it comes to speaking.
This will help us understand where everybody is coming
from, and it should also be interesting to read
what challenges other people are going through.
Thanks for joining us today. We'll see you next time.