Learning a language means tilvænning, adaptation. Applying your knowledge to the new language and making it work for you. And, in the case of moving to a new country – let’s say Denmark – adapting your life, too.
What really helps you to learn Danish is to immerse yourself in it, and that is fairly easy to do when you are in Denmark: Danish newspapers, magazines (and sometimes a limited choice of books) are available in every supermarket.
More books, music, magazines and films are available at the Danish public library. Some Danish libraries are open without personnel being around, but in the larger ones, librarians are very helpful in assisting you. And, as a bonus, they are your easiest chance to have a talk with a real-life Dane (but that is another story).
The only thing is that all of the above only work well if they become a habit to you: tilvænning. So, for example, instead of checking headlines online in your own language, try starting the day with Danish headlines – and follow up with the ones in your mother tongue.
You’ll make tilvænning a lot easier on yourself if you follow your passions, interests or guilty pleasures, because they will ensure that you will come back for more. Harlequin books, gardening, motorcycle maintenance, sailing, fantasy – as long as it is in Danish and it has your interest, it is fine. That way you’ll pick up more Danish than you ever would expect. One of the main reasons for this is that you already know words in your own language, and you know the context these are used in. This will make it easier for you to learn new words – without even having to use a dictionary! I’ll never forget the first Danish book I read: “Tre søstre”, about Danish Queen Margrethe and her two sisters Benedicte and Anne-Marie. And I remember the two words I learned from that book: “tilbage” (back) and “nederdel” (skirt). Well, in the case of the latter, pictures help, too…
But have you considered changing the operating system of your smartphone to Danish?
The same goes for your computer. If you have to change computers, and you know that you are going to stay here a bit longer, why not buy a Danish one? All of a sudden those pesky æ’s, ø’s and å’s are at your fingertips!
I know it is a very first-world kind of approach, but if you think about it, it actually makes sense. It is the ultimate in tilvænning.
If the idea is to surround yourself with Danish, why not by ‘danifying’ the tools that you use so often?