In Denmark, the major language spoken is Danish. The language of Denmark shares similarities with other Germanic languages, so if you speak German or English you'll pick up some similar words. However, it also is unique. For many, Danish can prove a challenge to learn, but as with any language foreign to the learner, as long as you stay with it and put in the work you'll pick it up little by little until you become fluent. It takes time and practice. If you are interested in learning the language of Denmark there are ways you can do just that.
Why Learn the Language of Denmark?
Danish, the language of Denmark, is known as a northern Germanic language. It is spoken predominately in Denmark although you'll find it also is spoken in northern Germany and in regions of Southern Schleswig. There are some communities that additionally rely on Danish. Those communities are in Sweden, Norway, Canada and the United States.
During World War II, many Danish citizens moved from Denmark to flee the war. Danes were typically not allowed to enter into North America, but they were permitted entrance into South America. That's why explorers will find pockets of Danish-speaking individuals living in Brazil and Argentina (there are several European pockets in these regions).
One of the reasons why you might want to learn the language of Denmark is because of its historical significance. Danish is considered an Old Norse language, which is what people in the region and those around Scandinavia spoke during the Viking Era.
If you were to combine Swedish along with Danish, you'd create one of the oldest European languages in history. Eventually, the language broke off based on tribal movements, which is why Swedish and Danish broke apart and became two different languages.
The Danish language remained relatively primal until the 16th century. Then, when the Protestant Reformation took hold, it spread new technologies throughout Europe, including printing. This helped standardize the language of Denmark and develop it further. Modern German and some Latin did have an influence on the continued evolution of Danish, but nearly all traditional forms of Danish no longer exist.
Is Danish Hard to Learn?
The language of Denmark shares similarities with German. However, there are several differences within Danish that make it a challenge to learn.
Most new languages are a challenge for people to learn because the language differs from their own. If you were to transition from English to Japanese, then you'd find it difficult to learn because Japanese doesn't have shared sounds or vocabulary. Shared sounds are what make going from English to French or English to Spanish easier. With that said, someone who spoke Korean wouldn't have as much of a problem learning Japanese as these languages share similarities with one another.
Danish is a language known to be difficult to learn because it has 27 phonemically different vowels. Learning how to say these different vowels and use them in words is tricky. Vowels have a much larger impact than consonants on how certain words are said and their influence on letters.
In modern times, Danish is not spoken commonly in large parts of the world, and there isn't just one form of the language, either. This also makes it a challenge to learn as there are different dialects. You'll find different dialects of English if you were to go the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia or the United States, and while you might find different pronunciations of the language, the dialects do not vary all that much.
In Denmark this is not the case. There is a difference in the language not only with how words are pronounced but also in how words are spelled and represented. This makes it especially different to learn as it really comes down to where you're visiting and, even then, you'll likely visit different locations.
For example, you will find at least 18 different regional dialects in the small country of Denmark. That is like traveling to Vermont in the United States to find 18 different forms of English, 18 different forms of spelling and 18 different ways to phrase certain words. In many instances, Danish is especially difficult to learn because even if you do learn the language (or at least enough to get by), you may end up in a different part of Denmark where what you learned is of no use to you. Call it a moving target of sorts. In any event, there is no single language of Denmark.
In order to truly learn Danish, you'll not only need to learn the basics, but you must learn how to adjust the way you say words and spell words based on the region of the country you're in. That is if your practical application of Danish is to be of any use to you at all.
If you spend enough time in Denmark, you'll eventually get the hang of it, but for the average traveler who just wants to know enough words to get by, say hello, ask for the bathroom and request a restaurant bill, it is more of a challenge.
Tips to Learning Danish
In Danish, you'll find some similar letters, yet you'll also find letters and symbols that won't look familiar and you won't know how to say or pronounce the letter. That is why you need to take advantage of these few tips and tricks for learning Danish:
Use an Audible Tutor Program
You can teach yourself how to write a language without ever reading it. You'll learn how to write a certain word based on its English equivalents and go on from there. That's fine, but when you need to say the word (or letter) out loud you won't know how to do this.
That is why you need an audible tutor. You need to hear the symbol, how to say it and how it influences other letters. This is the only way you will be able to catch on to learning Danish.
There are several audible tutor programs out there. Rosetta Stone is reputed to be one of the best. Its software not only does the reading of the words and letters out loud to you, but it also has a sensory feature that will listen to how you say the words and letters, and then tell you if you are saying it correctly. It's like having a personal tutor in your own home!
If you don't start out with a program like this from the beginning, then you open yourself up to problems and other issues further down the road. That is exactly why you need to take advantage of a program like Rosetta Stone.
If you're not sure you want to pay money to learn Danish, then there are other options available to you. Duolingo is a great option. In many ways, Duolingo is like the free version of Rosetta Stone. It'll show you visible flash cards and say the words out loud for you to hear. There is also a feature in the mobile application that listens to how you say the word and tell you whether how you're saying the word is correct or not. The audio feature isn't as well-defined as Rosetta Stone, but it's an excellent way to go without spending any of your hard-earned money.
Hire a Tutor
Realistically, the best way to progress with learning Danish is to hire a tutor. You can take out an advertisement online to see if there is a Danish tutor in the area. If you live closer to a larger city or around regions of the United States where there are Danish communities you might find this option.
Interacting with a Danish speaker will help not you not only learn how to say certain words and how certain letters interact with one another, but also you'll be able to communicate with the other person openly and work on specific words of use if you plan to travel to a Danish-speaking area. Rosetta Stone has some online tutoring features, but a personal tutor is best because you can watch their mouth formations, which is helpful in saying certain words.
Enroll in a Community College
You need not enroll as an active student in the community college itself as you can likely just audit the class. However, a community college course is an excellent option as you receive the best of all educational worlds. You'll have a tutor who can speak the language and work with you on the language (most community college courses for Danish will not be excessively large, so you'll be able to seek more one-on-one help.) You'll also gain access to valuable learning materials and books, and a study plan will keep you on track and hold you accountable in your efforts to learn.
Watch Danish Speaking Movies
Watch as much Danish-based entertainment with the subtitles on. It's amazing what you can pick up from the television.
Stick With It
If you're looking to learn the language of Denmark, you will probably need help. It is tricky and can be a challenge, but as long as you stick with it and take advantage of the different tips and pointers, you'll be able to catch on.