As well as present-giving, mulled-wine-drinking and tree-decorating, it’s pretty traditional at this time of year to start taking stock, to look back and think about what you’ve managed to achieve over the past year. So, with this in mind, I bid you welcome to my 2015 end-of-year Danish-learning review!
This year, I have…
I started to learn Danish on the 3rd January this year. Yes, I can be that precise because I wrote it in the front of my note book to remind me. At that point, I could say tak and…well, only tak really… From initially struggling to understand the concept of putting en and et at the end of a word to say the, I’m now studying the past perfect to be able to say that I had done something – I call that progress!
Reaching the last stage of my Duolingo Danish tree means that I think I’ve now studied a good share of the essential things needed to be able to communicate with others and understand them in most normal, day-to-day situations. I’m not saying I’m an expert on all those things I’ve studied, but compared to only being able to say tak, I have to admit that I’m pretty pleased with how far I’ve come over the last year.
As with most families, my TV watching is dictated to a certain extent by what my husband also wants to watch. The good news, though, is that he is pretty open-minded about watching programmes with subtitles, which means that, even before I started learning Danish, we had already watched and enjoyed a few danske serier over the last couple of years.
However, this was the year when I really started using my ears, rather than just relying on my eyes, while watching these series. From doing this, I’ve managed to pick up lots of handy little conversational phrases (Borgen used a lot of ’selvfølgelig’, for example), and helped my ear to tune into real Danish pronunciation – and I’ve also regularly annoyed my husband by muttering back little snippets of dialogue to myself that I just wanted to try rolling around my tongue after I’d heard them!
At the very start of my Danish studies, I’ll admit that I viewed learning this language as more of an abstract, intellectual challenge – could I learn to construct correct sentences in a language that was quite different to the Romance languages I had studied before? But as time went on, I started to take a different view of my Danish-learning challenge – could I use what I’d learnt to communicate with real Danes?
Of course, my problem is that there is a dearth of real Danes living in my region. Despite getting the chance to meet Danes face-to-face every now and then, these are pretty rare occurrences. But since adapting my attitude to my Danish learning, I’ve still managed to get in some speaking practice thanks to the wonder of Skype and sources like TalDansk Online.
I’m really grateful to my TalDansk partner Natasha, who freely donates her time to give learners like me the chance to practice conversing, by giving me a friendly space to try to piece together the different bits of Danish I’ve picked up over the months into real-time chat. I was really nervous before our first session, but Natasha was relaxed and helpful, and we’ve talked about (and sometimes, muddled through!) lots of topics over the last few months, from the weather to what’s happening in Game of Thrones. If you’re learning on your own, like me, I really recommend taking the leap into online video-chat – you won’t regret it!
Last but not least, I’ve had a ball sharing my Danish learning experiences with you over the last four months alongside my three fellow bloggers, and I’m looking forward to continuing this little adventure in your company in 2016. I’ve blogged about apps, birthday songs, cooking, telly watching and more – I wonder what’s in store for the coming months?
And that’s 2015 in the bag!
So, what does your 2015 review look like? Why not take a little time out this week to look back and celebrate your achievements for the year? Feel free to share any proud moments in the comments below!