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Learning Danish: Cracking the Norse Code, Pt. 2

Danish, the language of love… Said absolutely no one ever :P Danish is not typically regarded as being as beautiful as the romance languages like French or Italian, but this Nordic language has an undeniable charm. Most Danes speak pretty good English, but learning the local language will help you so much when looking for a job after your studies. Plus, if your future partner turns out to be Danish, it may indeed become a language of love for you one day 😉

Three Languages for the Price of One

Danish shares common origins with both Norwegian and Swedish, meaning that there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between the three Scandinavian languages. In real life, this means that a lot of things written in Norwegian can be understood by a Danish speaker. Some Danes can understand Swedish, but this is more common in Copenhagen where people are living in much closer proximity to the Swedes. But learning one language and getting a good portion of two others free doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Free Danish Classes

To get you on your way to learning Danish, the municipality offers free Danish classes to all enrolled as students at Aarhus University. You just pay a 2000kr deposit which is returned when you have completed a module and no longer wish to continue learning the language. You can also get your deposit back if you pause your Danish language education and decide to take a semester or more break before starting again.

When you receive your invitation, you will be invited to enroll in classes at one of the various language schools in the city. Your options are Clavis, Sprogcenter Midt, UCplus, and A2B. The most popular ones amongst my friends are Clavis and Sprogcenter Midt. Clavis is the language school that the municipality refers you to automatically, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. Sprogcenter Midt on the other hand, is very popular because they offer classes at the university’s Student House. This is where I take my classes, and I would definitely recommend it because I like being in a (usually) all-student atmosphere where I can meet new people of a similar age :D

How Much Work Am I Looking At?

The number of classes you attend per week depends on which language school you choose to attend. For example, my friends who attend Clavis language school tend to go for 2 hours every Monday and Wednesday, whereas I only attend class one day a week but for 2 hours and 45 minutes each time (and in modules 1 and 2, there is normally the option for classes on either Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday). To be totally honest, I didn’t want to give up two evenings per week, but I did consider switching to Clavis when I heard that they got more classroom contact hours. However, I feel that my Danish is progressing just as well as my friends going two days a week, so I stuck with Sprogcenter Midt as that’s what works best for me 😊

There’s also another reason why I don’t mind having slightly less classroom hours – you’ll get a ton of homework either way xD. You only do as much Danish homework as you can manage, and some weeks you don’t get round to it if you are super busy. My teachers have never hassled us about this as it’s up to you how much effort you put into the course – it’s not their 2000kr deposit lost if you fail the test :P But it does help to try and do as much of the homework as possible because it allows you to put what you have learned into practice and offers the chance to get personal feedback on your writing and pronunciation.

Learning Danish Outside the Classroom

Have you ever heard people say that you only truly learn to drive after you have passed your driving test? Learning a new language is a bit like that! You learn the language in the classroom, but you learn how the Danes communicate in everyday life when you start practicing in the real world. Watching Danish TV shows and listening to Danish music are always a good place to start. Some of my favourite Danish songs (with not-too-difficult lyrics) that I can recommend are:

Tættere End Vi Tror (feat. Tessa, Lukas Graham, Mads Langer, Jada, Benjamin Hav, Clara & Don Stefano) – P3. A really nice song released during the pandemic to remind people that they’re not alone! <3

Fra Start – De Danske Hyrder. Just a fun song!

Ibiza (feat. B.O.C) – Benny Jamz, Gilli & Kesi. If you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll hear it in the Friday Bars :D

Another way to help your Danish along is to read signs when out and about. Small things like knowing that ensrettet means one way can actually come in really handy, so always have a translation app ready to continue learning on the go.

Start Learning!

Reading about learning Danish is great, but there’s no time to start like the present! Crack out an app like Duolingo or Babbel to learn a few basics before you begin classes - your Danish friends will love to hear you try and speak their language. And if you feel shy then just do it the Danish way and have a few drinks for that little extra confidence 😉