Getting the hang of a new language is always hard – also when learning Danish. Here are a few learning tips to improve your Danish language skills.
Listening to the language you’re learning is always helpful. It helps you get a feel for the tone of language and build your vocabulary. When learning Danish, listening is especially important because the spoken language is so different from the written language. Danish pronunciation is difficult to get the hang of, but the more you listen, the easier it will be for you to mimic the native speakers’ pronunciation. The Danish “Good Morning!” show “Go’Morgen Danmark!” is a good place to start your listening escapades. The content consists of everyday themes such as food, sports, current affairs, books, and the weather. The language is easy, the pronunciation is clear, and each theme is often illustrated with a few written words on the screen; perfect for beginners and intermediate learners. If your Danish is more advanced, listening to music and watching Danish films might be the right choice for you. Films such as “Blinkende Lygter”, “Den Eneste Ene” and “De Grønne Slagtere” are all comedies with great dialogue that also introduce you to the multifaceted phenomenon called “Danish humour”. Examples of artist singing in Danish are Hej Matematik (electro-pop), Medina (pop) and L.O.C (rap)
Since Danish is hardly spoken in any other country than Denmark, your best chance to practice your oral skills is to go to Denmark. And be adamant about speaking Danish – most Danes will love to practice their English (or Spanish, French, or German) on you. When you manage to make it clear that you’d like to communicate in Danish, Danes are generally very helpful – bordering on over-polite. They will complement you on every single phrase you get right, but as your oral skills grow more advanced, don’t be surprised if the compliments stop, and they instead start picking on your grammar and pronunciation. Danes are thankful if tourists know “please” and “thank you”, but if you plan on staying in the country for a longer time, expect people to be disappointed in you if you’re not fluent in Danish within a year.
There are lots of great books in Danish. From the fairytales of Hans Christian Anderson to the crime novels of Sara Blædel – there’s something for everyone. Start with children’s books by Ole Lund Kirkegaard and Bjarne Reuter, and work your way up to bestsellers by Leif Davidsen, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Jakob Ejersbo and Jens Christian Grøndahl. If books aren’t really your thing, try reading a Donald Duck magazine, or a Danish online newspaper.
Writing is the most difficult skill to gain proficiency in when learning a new language. The written word is permanent, and all your mistakes will be obvious to everyone. So start out slow: practice by asking questions in bab.la’s Danish forum, or why not try Tweeting, or updating your Facebook status in Danish? You can also look for a Danish penpal, start a blog in Danish, or write a letter to the editor of your favourite Danish newspaper.
Most importantly: Have fun!
It’s so easy to get stuck on grammar, vocabulary, correctness, and rules when learning languages that it’s important to cut loose once in a while and just have fun with it. And lucky for you, Danish is a fun language! Enjoy!