How I learn Danish

I moved to Denmark in April 2014. In August 2014, I started to learn Danish in Studieskolen, the most popular language school in Copenhagen. In December 2016, I finally passed the Prøve i Dansk 3, the State’s exam of the Danish language.

This article is about how I learn Danish: tips, tricks, and personal opinions.

Expectations

Before I moved to Denmark, I’ve heard about the Danish language only that it’s nearly impossible to learn it. In fact, I can’t say it isn’t hard, but it’s definitely possible. Low expectations and strong intention to do my best to learn the language, made me feel happy after every small success I made.

Environment

Learning the language in school is important but it’s impossible to learn it only in school. I did and do my best to use the language as much as possible in everyday life.

People

It’s hard to practice Danish with danes because most of them have a good English and switch to it if they see you are a foreigner. This is why, for the first 6–12 months, I was not able to practice my verbal Danish anywhere other than at the language school. But at some point, I just stopped to switch to English even if my interlocutor did it.

UI

I switched all my devices and accounts to Danish. For the first week, it was pretty hard to read labels and notifications, but in the end, it has brought me a big favor: how else would I know that “Like” is “Synes godt om” in Danish?

Songs

Danish songs are also good to better understand the language. After some time, I started to understand songs for children and later on it was better and better.

Books

I was reading my daughter’s school books with a dictionary. It was a good source for new words, although reading Astrid Lindgren’s books gave me a lot of new words about knights and horses which are not so useful in the real world.

Podcasts

It’s not so hard to read, but it’s hard to understand the spoken Danish. Listening podcasts and radio helps a lot to train the spoken language understanding ability.

Here is a list the Danish podcasts that I listen:

TV and news

Usually, I don’t watch TV because I don’t have time for that, but I’m pretty sure this is also a good practice. Instead, I read the news. DR is a good source for news and a great possibility to practice your reading skills.

Flashcards

Flashcards are the best thing that helped me to get a good vocabulary. Anki is the best flashcard-application I have found. Thanks to this app, I have learned about one thousand danish words in a year. The only drawback is that it is pretty time-consuming to fill new words in Anki’s database.

Duolingo

Duolingo is a perfect website to start learning Danish. It gives you a set of basic phrases and a good first feeling about the grammar and the sound of the Danish language.

Language school

All the ways of practicing Danish that I just mentioned above are about a half of my language practice I had last years. The other part was the language school. Three hours, two times in a week, the same amount of time spent on homeworks. I glad that I am done with that. But this does not mean I know Danish good now. The exam was just a milestone on a long way of learning the Danish language.