Earlier this week, there was a Twitter chat on the subject of self-study vs. classroom learning – you can check out the #WeDoLanguages hashtag , if you fancy catching up with that debate. I was interested to see what people said, as I’ve spent the last year studying Danish on my own.
You might think, given my circumstances, that I would be a natural proponent of the self-study method. And I am, of course. After all, you can learn at your own pace, and focus on the things that are important or useful to you.
But, this week, I’ve really started to feel the lack of a Danish teacher and a Danish class in my life.
Growing up, I was one of those kids who always quite enjoyed learning, and I still look back fondly on my time in school and university. Although I’m older now, and have left my formal studies behind, I have to admit that I remain a fan of being in class.
As an adult, I have taken evening classes or lessons in a whole variety of interests, from Spanish to ju-jitsu, screen-printing to cupcake decorating, roller derby to crochet, just for the joy of learning something new – but also of being with other learners in the company of a good teacher.
A good teacher gives you confidence, shows you how to negotiate complex ideas, corrects your misunderstandings and opens doors in your mind. A class of fellow students provides camaraderie and friendship, people to share and discuss ideas with, to practice with, and to empathise with you when things get challenging – as they always do at some point.
And this is what I’ve started to feel I’m missing out on as I study Danish on my own. I miss the buzz of being in class, I miss the motivation provided by learning with others, I miss the structure and depth of understanding provided by a teacher who knows their stuff. I’m getting by okay on my own, with the help of my previous language learning experience, my books and modern technology but…it’s not the same!
I live in a town which only offers evening classes in the most common languages – French, Spanish and, on occasion, beginners’ Italian. There’s no Danish. Neither are there any Danish lessons in any nearby towns either. So, it looks like I’ll be carrying on studying alene for a while yet. Waah! I’m starting to feel a little like Bridget Jones, singing ‘All By Myself’ in her pyjamas… 😉
If you’re lucky enough to have a Danish teacher and a class, why not show them some appreciation this week? Let your teacher and fellow students know if they’re making a difference to you – and if you have any stories from your Danish language classrooms that you’d like to share, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment below!