Friday, August 30, 2013

Pludselig Kan Jeg Forstå Dig!

So... all of a sudden, I can speak Danish.

I'm not sure when the shift happened from me feeling like I just didn't understand enough Danish to converse to suddenly feeling fairly comfortable with it.  The change seemed to just appear from thin air.

It's a nice change.

Last week, I was hunting for a used digital piano on what is basically the Danish equivalent to Craigslist.  I wasn't feeling terribly optimistic, because I'd never had a response from anyone I'd ever contacted from the site about anything.  This time, however, I felt at least confident enough to write my inquiries in Danish, so I responded to two ads.  And within an hour, I had responses from both.  I arranged to take a look at one of the pianos, and when I was biking there, I decided I would try to get through as much of the conversation as possible in Danish.

We ended up doing the entire deal in Danish, and he actually seemed surprised to find out that I wasn't Danish.  Point for me!

And just now, while out walking the dog, I struck up a conversation with a woman who's daughter I normally see walking their dog.  She asked me where I was from, and when I told her, she said (in Danish, of course), "Oh, yes, I thought I heard a bit of an accent."  She was then surprised to learn that I'd only been here a little over a year.

Granted, I've gotten pretty used to responding to the kinds of questions other dog owners ask, so it wasn't anything too complicated, but I'm feeling a little bit proud of my Danish skills lately.

It's refreshing to suddenly understand most of the conversations going on around me.  There are still countless words that I don't know, but I'm feeling more and more confident that I might be able to do fairly well on my PD3 exam in November.


  1. Congrats!

    As someone still in module one of Danish (feeling like I'm never gonna understand), have you done much outside of school to learn, Or has it all been through school?
    I feel like I'm never gonna learn through school alone, but don't have the courage to go out in public and force my incompetence on everyone until I get there :/

    1. Sorry for the delayed response! I did try to learn Danish a bit before I moved here, but didn't really have much success (a lot of my first posts are about those failed attempts, actually). I still started with module 1 when I got here. I think it's important that the school you are in uses a teaching style and speed that works for you. Module 1 is definitely tough, so I'd say it's worth sticking with it. But if you feel like the rest of the class is having an easier time with it, you might want to see if there are other schools in the area that might have a process that works better for the way you learn. I've found that Studieskolen works for me, but I know it doesn't work for everyone.

  2. Thanks for the reply!

    I think I do pretty well in school, probably ahead of most my class. But my concern is; class is my only exposure to Danish. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself after hearing about other people being fluent in only a few months, maybe my expectations are too high.
    So I was more wondering if school was your ONLY source of education while in Denmark? Or were you forcing yourself to converse in Danish while out at the shops, have other natives to practice with, etc?

    1. I was in the exact same situation during my first module or two. I had basically no interaction with Danes and no real opportunity to speak Danish outside of class. To be honest, the only major change to that so far has been getting our dog. I spend a lot of time walking him every day, and that has a tendency to draw Danes in to start conversations with me. The more comfortable I became in those situations, the easier it became to stick to Danish when going into stores or having other everyday interactions with Danes. One thing that I will say is that it's best to take the whole "I became fluent in Danish after a few months" with a big grain of salt. Often, those people already spoke a language that was really similar to Danish, and so already understood most of what was going on around them. Or, they only took classes here for a few months, but learned on their own somewhere else for a year beforehand. People tend to exaggerate A LOT with regards to their language skills. It took me a year to start being comfortable trying to have longer conversations with Danes, and pretty much all of them are shocked that I can speak any Danish after "only a year." It takes time. Don't let the exaggerators get you down!

  3. Thanks for that, it's what I wanted to hear! I think it's a reasonable goal to set myself, to be able to at least hold a basic conversation after one year.
    Also I shouldn't forget to say that I've been following your blog since December, and I always look forward to your updates ;)