Learning Danish

The Danish government offer free lessons to all foreigners during their first three years in the country. Learning Danish is a requirement for non-EU citizens. However, although this is not my case, I started Danish lessons at the beginning of January.

Danes like to think that Danish is a very difficult language to learn. However, the CIA thinks otherwise, ranking it with the easiest languages to learn – so there is a lot I need to live up to!

learn Danish

Cartoon by Jolik

So what is my opinion on what I have seen so far?

The service provision

Danish for foreigners is taught in a number of schools in Sonderborg. However, for some reason it is only one school that is subsidised by the government. As is often the case, lack of competition does not tend to result in an optimal outcome.

Furthermore, as learning Danish to a certain level is a requirement for residency for non-EU citizens, the system is built on a series of module exams. I am perplexed since teaching to the exam is frowned upon for Danish citizens, so why is this the education offered to foreigners?

The lessons

Going from university level education to Danish lessons, where I am essentially at the level of a primary school kid (if that) has been  a shock to the system. Nevertheless, luckily our teacher has taken up the challenge of answering the questions we come up with. Him knowing a number of other languages also helps him show us the links between Danish other languages we know.

Verdict (so far)

The system so far feels quite chaotic, and not particularly well-equipped to handle well-educated foreigners. However, I HAVE actually learnt some Danish, which means that the aim is being reached.

12 thoughts on “Learning Danish

  1. Those sprogskole owned by the municipality / kommune don’t offer suitable teachings for well-educated immigrants. This might sounds a bit snobbish, but people with longer school background would be bored in trying to learn Danish in those places. I have heard so many (bad) stories from my friends who went to LærDansk and the likes.

    But of course, I realise it might not be easy to find a private school (still paid for the kommune) in smaller cities such Sønderborg. I liked my school a lot and the way they taught their students – it’s a private school in Copenhagen.

    • I am slowly coming to the same realisation as you (even if it might sound snobbish!). As far as I know the only option here is LaerDansk. I wouldn’t say that it is bad, but I would definitely not say that it is great either! But maybe I should look into it! Do you know how you can find which schools are covered by the kommune? In my case I just received a letter telling me to show up at X place and X time (and they got the wrong date on that one!)

  2. I don’t know if the rules have changed or not, but during the 3 years where you are supposed to learn Danish, the kommune is obliged to finance your Danish education, no matter WHERE. You need to research about this rule.

    I found the school on my own, and I just told them my CPR number (there was a placement test and all) and they sent the bill to my kommune. Simple as that.

  3. I think only one school in Sonderborg leads you to do the module exams…and the kommune only finances the course if it leads to the module from what I can find out.

    Will keep digging though!

  4. Hi Ann,

    What a coincidence for me that my drawing was found by Michael and added to your blog. I’m happy to meet you all. 🙂
    I just started learning danish – by myself…
    I’m living in Poland. Two years ago I got an idea about learning sth new. And I chose danish. But I didn’t find any school down here that would provide with any danish lessons. It’s much easier to find swedish school, norwegian school but danish… as if this never existed. So I must rely on by myself.

    just wanted to say hello 🙂
    greets from Krakow
    and good luck with danish


    • Welcome to the blog :).
      I started ‘formally’ studying Danish in January. It’s going slowly but surely.
      Was wondering what resources you are using to learn Danish on your own…The book I like the most for self study is Complete Danish, but I’m curious as to what works for you!

      • Hi Ann,

        I’m using “Colloquial Danish” by W. Glyn Jones and Kirsted Gade. Recordings provide with four different voices (male and female ones) of differrent speed and accents – that’s why I chose this book. Text contains useful phrases, not these ones like: “Does your father smoke the pipe” you cannot use anywhere and anyhow 😀
        I also make slow steps, mostly in pronounciation – which is hard I must say… reminds Klingon’s language hehe 😀

  5. oh, c’mon , sooner or later your brain will start to think “danish”, cause now you’re living in Danmark and working with Danes (not mentioning Michael). My brain still think “gobble gobble gobble” hehe 😀 😀

    • Haha – that’s true…it is not as ‘gobble gobble gobble’ as it used to be…now it is ‘gobble gobble word gobble gobble’ :P. Hopefully all the gobbles will soon turn into words 😉

  6. I will say that the ones in the “LærDansk” circuit have actually beefed up their teacher requirements since I left. They now require that their teachers have the education of “Dansk som andet sprog” which helps because just because you speak a language, it does not guarantee you are equipped to teach that language to others.

    • Hi Kelli. Our teach has said that to teach at LaerDansk he needs to have a masters…probably the same thing that you are saying! The teaching is OK, but it goes very slow. The fact that the group started in November, I joined in January, and up to 2 weeks ago people were still joining the group doesn’t help (and still more people might join in the future).

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