I am ashamed to admit that I don’t. I have been aware that, after spending eighteen months learning it a long time ago, that I simply don’t speak enough Danish. To be fair, as a freelancer and mum, I do spend half my day working on my own and writing in English and the other half with my son, to whom I speak English. But increasingly, for my own ease, I have been speaking English to Danish people I converse with. I excuse this by thinking it is easier (but for whom – me certainly but it is a big assumption to think that it is easier for them) or that I am with my son and I want him to understand and also not pick up my odd accent, which often makes people think I am Norwegian. But these are just that, excuses.
Recently I went to a craft workshop run by a Danish lady and attended by other Danes. I think they must have thought I was incredibly shy but the reality is – I was too shy to try and speak Danish. I came home tearful and frustrated – I know I can manage to communicate but I have lost the confidence to do so. I am fearful that my accent isn’t any good anymore and that, after the horrible experience of attempting to speak German in Berlin for 18 months and getting a negative reaction, people won’t understand me or just reply in English.
So I decided that no matter how nerve wracking it is, I am going to speak Danish to Danes as much as I can again. I have been doing so for a few weeks now and actually it is gong OK. They can understand me and are actually engaging in conversation rather than simply responding so my confidence is growing. I am going to watch The Killing (Danish version) again as a) it is amazing and b) it will help me get my ear back in tune.
I don’t want to waste all that hard work no matter how scary it is at times. As I tell my son being brave is being scared of something but doing it anyway (actually stolen from Tale of the Brave but nontheless a valuable concept).