Learning Danish

I really believe that learning at least some language of your new country helps you feel happier and more settled. One of the reasons I felt unsettled in Berlin was the fact that my German was very basic and people in my neighbourhood were unable or perhaps unwilling to help me out by trying to speak English or understand my pronunciation. I became unwilling to even try to speak my basic German due to the reaction.

When I moved to Denmark in 2008 I was lucky enough to have some freelance work which enabled me to study Danish intensively at VUF in Frederiksberg (there are plenty of schools all over the city). The Danish government are very keen to assist people to learn Danish so once you have a CPR number your are eligible for free language school tuition (you pay a basic fee for books and examinations which you get more than your money’s worth).

Language school is also a great way to make new friends who are all in a similar situation to you and come from a diverse geographical background. They are all also keen to learn the language and also about the new culture. I met almost all of my good friends here in the first few months at language school.

The structure of the course that I took was great. The first module is all about speaking and getting a feel for what seems at first to be a very complex language and it gives students confidence and helps you stick around for the harder modules.

My disclaimer is that I am a bit of a girly swot and enjoy studying new things and doing well at them if I can so I put a lot of effort into studying Danish. I almost stalked my neighbours to try out my new skills, which must have been very tedious when my conversations were at the level of a six year old.

The next modules do get tougher and there where times when I was ready to pack it in. If I hadn’t had my son a month before my final exam I would have completed the full course so I am pleased that I stuck with it.. Of course not everyone goes that far and as the course moves on you find that in most cases the daytime classes are very female dominated as men tend to be in more of a hurry to get employed and continue studying in the evening. If you are working I heard from someone today that Studieskolen are offering an e-learning and class blended course, which is great to fit in around your own life.

My advice is, that if you can spare a few months of mornings or evenings, take the opportunity to have some free language lessons and no matter how painful it feels use what you learn out there with real Danes.


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