Over the past couple of month, I mainly featured Expat feedback from fellow students in my language school in Copenhagen.
Recently, I decided to review the format of the interviews with new questions, so that we can all dive a bit more into the process of learning Danish.
I sincerely appreciate the time spent by all the expats to write down their thoughts and share their feedback. In the coming months, my plan is to push on featuring more feedback from students coming from all over Denmark and different schools. We have so much to learn from all our individual experiences, and I really hope you enjoy all these inspiring interviews.
This week, Sade who is from the Philippines and lives in Esbjerg (Jylland), accepted to share her experience of learning Danish!
I sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading this post, where she shares a very insightful feedback.
Thank you Sade!
My name is Sade (shar-day). I’m a 26-year-old Filipina living in Esbjerg, Denmark with my husband. Although I first visited the land of Vikings in 2015, I officially moved here in 2016.
I graduated with a degree in journalism, but somehow ended up as a poet and creative writer. Currently, I volunteer for Mentornetværket. My hobbies include eating, surfing, complaining about the weather, and petting other people’s dogs or cats.
I began attending sprogskolen mid-April 2017. Last September, I passed the test to be in module 3.4. The school is currently managed by AOF.
How did you find the registration process at the school when you enrolled?
The registration process was a bit cumbersome, but okay enough. Since I’m married to a Dane, we had to wait for my “opholdstilladelse” (Residence Permit) to be approved before I could enroll. We were told that I would be contacted immediately by the municipality once everything was in order. I guess they forgot, because weeks passed by without any news.
In the end, a student from the school advised me to call the job center and gave me the number of the employee in charge of the language school. I talked to some friends who were already attending it, and most of them said they also encountered problems or miscommunication or misinformation during the registration process.
Have you taken breaks?
Only the standard 1-2 week vacation during summer.
How did you find the various modules at school?
You start in an introductory class where they teach you the basics such as pronouns, basic sentence structure, and simple greeting/conversational phrases. You also get more information about the language school system and a quick overview of Danish society (for example what a CPR number actually is, how to navigate the municipality website, etc.).
Your stay there normally lasts a month, however I stayed only for a week. I was alone in the class, as there weren’t any people who enrolled at the same time as I did.
I remember being annoyed during one particular day in class, because in the middle of it, one of the other teachers suddenly went in our classroom with the janitor. They seemed to talk about the layout of the room, then the janitor proceeded to begin drilling or hammering. All this in the middle of a student having her lessons? Yikes.
Things further continued on the wrong foot when they had to transfer me to the first class for module 3.1.
The teacher informed me they would send me my new schedule via e-mail over the weekend, which they never did.
So I came to school on Monday, which was my old schedule with them. They then informed me that my class was actually on Tuesday.
I came back the next day, only to be informed that since I am in module 3, my class was located at a different school. When I arrived (2 hours late) at that different school, the classroom printed on my schedule was also the incorrect location.
This is only the tip of the iceberg regarding my…quite exciting beginning at the language school.
Let’s just say it tested my patience!
This was the most challenging for me, since most of the people in my class were already far ahead and they were already in the middle of the book we were using.
One has to double-time if they want to catch up on the same level everyone else is already in. I’m pretty sure I spent 2 weeks cramming all the lessons in the book the class had already covered.
One is expected to master the basic phrases such as: Hi, Goodbye, How are you?, Where do you come from?, My name is, etc.
Here, one begins to develop their listening skills and reading comprehension skills. One is expected to know the prepositions, and expand their vocabulary.
We also did a lot of writing exercises. We practiced writing short personal e-mails and letters, and learned the proper way to write them (proper intro and outro, proper format, etc). We were also trained to skim-read.
By now, one should be already ”independent” – in that the student should be able to read/write/listen/talk without much guidance or supervision. The topics we talk about get more serious here.
Before, we normally talked about personal stuff such as hobbies, vacations, family, cooking recipes, etc. The topics in this module are now about traffic, school system and the environment.
E-mails are longer, and one is expected to use slightly more advanced words. One learns how to write their CV and respond to job offers, and one develops their reading comprehension skills. Proper pronunciation of words is stressed.
Focus on topics concerning Danish culture, history, and society. More advanced words used. One’s vocabulary is expanded exponentially.
The class regularly does refresher exercises, wherein the teacher tests whether one still remembers how to use prepositions, inversion, etc. We also learn about when and how to use the passive form for verbs.
Much focus is spent on argumentative style of communication.
For example, one is asked to discuss the pros and cons of social welfare with the class. Additionally, we write different essays and are being trained to spot and correct grammatical and typographical mistakes.
The listening aspect is as difficult as it’s ever been.
In the previous modules, the recordings being played where spoken with moderate volume and speed.
Now, the speaker is the everyday Dane who maybe mumbles, talks too fast, or uses slang. Students develop their ”talesprog”.
Day classes vs evening classes?
I only went to the day classes. We used to have around 18 hours/week of education, but the municipality and school recently reduced it to 15 hours/week.
Most of us in our class are unemployed and married to a Dane.
In the beginning, I believe the module 3 classes were exclusively held in Hededammen, which is separate from the main school in Spangsbjerg Møllevej, perhaps due to lack of classrooms in the latter.
Our class was composed of (less than 10) students from module 3.1 to 3.3 – which I think was not so good, in that it was way too difficult for those still beginning, and too easy for those already on their way to 3.4.
I imagine it must be a struggle for the teacher to accommodate different needs and levels of students.
It would be much easier – also for the students – to separate the different modules so no one gets left behind or gets too bored during the lessons.
A lot of the newcomers who were still module 3.0 were complaining that the class was too difficult for them. They spent only a month in the introductory class before they were transferred to ours, and they couldn’t follow the lessons most of the time. I remember a couple of classmates actually went home in the middle of class because they felt helpless and uninspired.
It was also understandably challenging for them, since they got transferred to our class in the summer, and by then we grew from less than 10 in the class into nearly 20 students.
Anyway, since I learned Danish relatively fast when I was still in 3.3, I was transferred to the ”final class” for module 3.4-3.5.
This was personally good for me since it challenged me more, but the lessons still feel very rushed and the class overcrowded (also nearly 20) for such a short schedule.
We meet twice a week for the aforementioned 15 hours – 3 hours of which are spent in the study center where students are expected to work with and study Danish independently (for example, by reading news articles, answering readily-printed grammar exercises, etc.). You basically choose what you want to do, especially if there is something specific you need/want to work on.
I personally think this ”study time” is useless and not optimal. I already study at home. And if we students wanted to read or see Danish news, or read a Danish book, or whatever, we can easily do that at home, and, to be honest, we prefer to do that at home. We come to the language school to learn in a school-setting, not to waste time at the makeshift library, which doesn’t even have enough/good resources or study materials.
To be honest, the days where we have ”study time” are the most dreadful for me and my classmates. We feel lazy and unmotivated, and we are only there for our attendance to be checked. For us who are unemployed and whose sole focus is on language school, we desire to ACTUALLY be educated in by a teacher. We want to get the most out of this experience and opportunity, and doing ”independent, unsupervised exercises” that one normally already does at home in their daily routine is, quite frankly, a waste of time.
I question whether this ”study time” is just some excuse for AOF and the municipality to save money and pass that off as quality education. I guess we will have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I know I am coming off quite towards the negative scale when talking about the school. It’s not that I enjoy nitpicking or am pessimistic or will only see the negative side of things – I am just trying to be honest in sharing my thoughts and experience. I am pretty sure if you ask anyone else who goes to our school, they’ll relay their own experiences with perhaps the same sour or indifferent note.
From poor communication, general disorganization, lack of resources, to certain school employees being outright rude when you interact with them – Esbjerg’s sprogskolen needs a lot of improvement.
Which Danish study books did you use during the various modules?
We used “Videre Mod Dansk: Trin For Trin, Modul 3“ in the beginning.
When we moved to the next and final class, we began using “Danske Stemmer” by Birte Langaard.
They are both pretty helpful, and the first one is especially easy to understand and is quite suitable for beginners. The former has more grammar-related exercises than the latter, which is discussion-based.
What do you do outside of school to practice your Danish?
I read and watch the Danish news sometimes. I always study our lessons at home, even if I don’t have any homework. There’s also this language app called Duolingo which is pretty neat.
Besides this, I talk to some Danish friends in Danish, even though they probably don’t understand me half the time! And my volunteer job requires me to write a lot of e-mails in Danish, which has significantly improved my writing skills.
Have you read Danish books that you think are worth reading for other students?
They are mostly English crime/thriller/mystery books translated into Danish. One can easily find them at the bookstore.
Have you watched Danish movies that you think are worth it for other students?
The Afdeling Q detective movies are cool. Anything with Mads Mikkelsen is always a hit – particularly Adams Æbler, Jagten, and De Grønne Slagtere. I also really liked Vagten, which stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
BROEN and Forbrydelsen are also interesting – though those are TV shows.
Have you listened to Danish music that you think is worth listening to for other students?
I’d say MØ, but then again her songs are in English. However there are Gnags, Marvelous Mossell, The Floor Is Made Of Lava, Kellermensch, Agnes Obel, and Mads Bjōrn.
Speak, write, and read as much as possible, even when you are too lazy to do it. Incorporate Danish in your everyday life – whether when you’re listening to the radio, or reading books, or skimming magazines, or singing in the shower.
When I watch shows on Netflix, I usually use Danish subtitles instead of English. Besides expanding my vocabulary, I feel as though this helps train my reading skills as well.
Find somebody you can practice your Danish with and do not ever be afraid to screw up or make mistakes. Whether it’s a Danish neighbor, your partner, a classmate, or whatnot. If your social circle isn’t that big, then join hobby clubs or volunteer for a job where you’ll be forced to talk and interact with Danish people.
I personally find that re-writing words I already know and writing down new words in a notebook, helps with my memorization. The more you repeat something and the more you are exposed to something, the better you’ll (hopefully! probably!) be at it.
Also, try to be patient with other Danish people, especially with your partner 🙂
I can’t count the number of times me and my husband ended up biting each other’s head off during a discussion about Danish grammar!
Follow Sade on Social Media!