First of all, I wish you a very happy New Year 2019 and many successes with learning Danish!
Another month, another article collaboration with the expat newspaper “The International“.
Every month I share my personal experience about the process of learning Danish in Denmark. This is a really cool free newspaper with a lot of insights from various expats in Denmark. You can find the newspaper at these locations all over the country.
Make sure to follow them on Instagram: @theinternationaldenmark
Here is my article in case you didn’t read it yet 🙂
Speaking Danish at work
A New Year always brings new challenges and projects. About two years ago, I decided that I would speak Danish a year later. This has been one of the longest projects I’ve taken on. Even though I speak Danish, I am still being challenged every day and aim at becoming a better speaker. I want to share with you my experience from speaking Danish at various workplaces in Denmark. Yes, you can definitely step your Danish level up and avail of your colleagues to improve!
THE BAR ENVIRONMENT
When I decided to study Danish full time at school, I obviously needed a job to practice it. The bar is a great outlet to use your Danish skills. I remember starting on my first day and thinking if I should speak in Danish, or stick to English to be on the safe side. I decided to use English in the first month, but switch to Danish as soon as I would become more comfortable with the space, menu and drink list! Quickly enough I found myself speaking Danish to Danes. A bar attracts regulars, which is a fantastic opportunity to speak Danish. We had a lot more locals than tourists, this meant I really got to talk about various topics, such as culture, language, work and life. I had the chance to meet so many t es of Danes from all over the country. This also helped me to better identify accents from Jutland, Zealand and even Bornholm! Though, I am still struggling to spot the accent from Fyn…
THE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT
Throughout the past four years, I have also experienced office work. Unlike the bar environment where every conversation is very spontaneous and totally unexpected, the office talks seem to be a bit more predictable. You know who your Danish colleagues are, whether they speak slow or fast, articulate or not, have a tough accent to understand or make an effort to be understood. There is less uncertainty in regards to what might come out of the conversations, compared to in a bar environment. Use moments like lunch breaks, Friday bars, e-mails, a quick ride in the lift or even a coffee break to test your Danish skills. We know that Danes really like to speak English, but they definitely love to speak Danish. Even if it is not a deep conversation, the simple fact to engage in Danish will show that you are trying. Ultimately this means, that you want to integrate further.
CHALLENGES & VICTORIES
Let’s be honest, learning Danish is a real challenge but absolutely achievable. When I look back at the past four years, I found that when I met a Dane for the first time and engaged in English, our conversations stayed in English over time. It can be tough to switch to Danish full time. Not because you cannot do it, but because English was the language you both used when you met. Funny enough it is a bit the same with my wife. English is still predominant; however, we also mix Danish and French, which no longer affects the level of our conversations. Speaking Danish at work can be challenging because you come across specific vocabulary relating to your industry. There is also a difference between speaking Danish with colleagues and presenting a full on technical product over the phone. It is an ongoing challenge which we might all face at some stage. My professional Danish network has been very supportive all along, and still is. This is motivating and very rewarding as a learner. Do not give up!
Let’s make 2019 a year where we all challenge ourselves with Danish and show our peers that we can do it.
You can also download the full newspaper here