For the majority of foreigners who live in Denmark, learning the Danish language comes with the territory of relocating to the country. It’s not always an easy process, but it can be a rewarding one.
We asked our readers what learning Danish had changed for them. We received a lot of interesting answers and input – thanks to all who took the time to answer our survey.
Some said that learning Danish was a personal decision while for others, it was a requirement of immigration rules.
“It was my own decision to learn the language to be able to understand what is happening around me in daily life (on public transport, in the shop, on the street, what my colleagues are chatting about when they don’t use English), and with the hope that I can easier build up some social connections with locals! If I live in a foreign country, then it’s the minimum to speak and understand the language at some extent,” said Dorina.
“I’m still in module 1 [of the national language school programme, ed.], so no change (to my life) yet, but I can see that my colleagues are valuing my effort very much,” she added.
Pedro told us that “as a person who’s lived in a few countries since I was very young, I do understand the enormous value of completely emerging oneself and learning the language of your current home.”
“It opens up a whole new world in a sense and it helps you to be fully engaged into a new society. And I’ve felt that the locals truly appreciate it when someone knows their language,” he said.
“That’s especially true with Danish since relatively there are so few speakers in the world,” he added.
“Regardless of my own desire to learn I do need to learn to pass a few language exams to fulfil my visa requirements, for permanent residency and hopefully citizenship exams,” Pedro also said while adding that knowing Danish would likely broaden his career options while in Denmark.
Lizzie meanwhile said she had begun learning Danish “because I decided to stay in the country after graduation, so it made sense to learn Danish, so I can integrate easier.”
“I’m from outside the EU. It was compulsory for me to learn (Danish) on a reunification visa,” Barry said.
Being able to speak Danish had a range of impacts on the lives of our respondents.
“After 10 years I still work in a predominately English workplace,” Barry said, adding that he used the local language “when out shopping and (for) other simple everyday interactions.”
Learning Danish has “enabled me to engage and become involved in society, build a social circle independent of my wife’s social circle and become more eligible in my previous professional field,” wrote Lyle, who was required to learn the language to meet visa requirements.
“Danes hold you in a higher regard when you engage in Danish even if you attempt and you suck a bit,” he said.
Another reader, Iulian, said language classes were a good place to “meet people having the same obstacles and make new friends.”
“And it is free now,” he noted.
“I have a nice relation with my 70-plus year-old neighbour who speaks only Danish. He helped us with so many things so far, things I would have not known if he would not have told me. It was possible because I learned some Danish, enough to understand each other,” Iulian said.
“Finding work and internships I think has been easier” with Danish, wrote Lizzie, adding that even at international companies, Danish can help you feel more at home.
“Almost everyone speaks Danish in the breaks,” she said.
“It’s allowed me to communicate with others, especially at my son’s vuggestue [childcare] where many don’t speak English as much as the general population,” Pedro added.
Dorina told us that “A whole new world opens up by understanding what’s going on around me.”
“The biggest achievement of starting the language is that I can already catch some words from locals and be able to differentiate words within a sentence when they speak,” she said.