Welcome back to the last in my short series on ‘Digital Danish’, a roundup of some of my favourite online and app resources available to help you learn, practice or connect with others in Danish. I’ve already discussed the wonders of Duolingo, DR Ligetil and Instagram in my previous posts and today I’m going to share with you two more handy-to-know websites.
First up this week…Basby
I might as well be frank. Basby is not a sexy website. In the words of my web-designer husband, it looks erm…not great. However, we should bear in mind that old phrase ‘never judge a website’s usefulness by its unattractive design’ (I think that’s right…) because, actually, Basby is great for grammar and particularly nifty for one thing in particular, namely practising how to choose between words with similar meanings.
Take this example: should you use hvornår, når or da when you want to say ‘when’? Each grammar exercise provides a little explanation of the difference between the targeted words, and models these briefly with some sample sentences – and then you simply crack on with your practising. There are usually many different examples to practise with, but the site breaks it down into pages of around four or five sentences at a time, and once you’ve completed each page, clicking ‘Check’ gives you immediate feedback on what you’ve got right and what you’ve got wrong.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t give you a reason why something’s wrong, but I think that’s better in a funny way, because it forces you to study that explanation again and try to work it out for yourself. Which, like your parents forcing you to eat your vegetables as a child, is annoying but ultimately good for you.
As we all know, Danish spelling doesn’t always have an obvious relationship with Danish pronunciation! So, what do you do if you’re struggling to know how to pronounce a new word (or even a familiar word that you’ve just forgotten how to say out loud!)? Well, ideally, you’d ask the nearest available Dane, but failing that, Forvo is a good second best.
Forvo sells itself as ‘All the words in the world. Pronounced.’ and it’s basically a place where native speakers can record themselves pronouncing things correctly. All the words in the world is a pretty lofty aim, but it’s definitely on the way there, and currently offers over 17,500 Danish words or phrases for your listening pleasure. If you fancy a taster, here it is telling you how to correctly pronounce the delightful ‘selvfølgelig’!
If you’re particularly looking for help with pronouncing verbs, you could also try Basby again, which offers a verbeliste, where you’ll find not only a handy verb table with 6 tenses or forms for each verb, but also a recorded pronunciation guide for each one. Winner!
So that’s it for now for Digital Danish! Thinking back to the first post of this series, where I discussed the changes that easy-to-access digital resources have brought to the language learning experience, it’s pretty clear that learning Danish has been a very different process for me compared to learning any of my other languages. Books and classroom-based learning – and real-life experiences – for Danish are scarce where I live (as they might be for you too), and so as a learner abroad, I really depend on these digital resources to help me learn and improve my Danish language skills.
I’ve enjoyed collating these resources for you and I hope that you’ve found some of these suggestions useful. As always, if you have any other great digital finds to share, please let me know with a little comment below!
Til næste gang, vi ses.