Unfortunately, probably around 80% of internationals lose their hope and stop their attempts to learn anything else than the basic “Hej” and “Ja tak” after finding out that encountering difficulties with Danish pronunciation is not really a “one-time thing.” But let me bring you back a little hope, and believe me when I say, Danish is not that hard.
The grammar is relatively easy, and you will often notice similarities in vocabulary with other languages, such as German, English, or French.
Now all you have left is dealing with pronunciation, which, quite frankly, is not impossible to get used to.
To help you gain more motivation to learn Danish language while managing to save some money and potentially learning more about Danish culture and society at the same time, I have collected a great list of language learning platforms that I personally tested and found extremely helpful:
If you have already started learning Danish and expanding your vocabulary but lacking some assistance with reading and pronunciation, Tandem is just the right thing for you! The app is made especially for language partners: you can select the languages you want to learn and the language(s) you have fluency in, then the algorithm will show you a list of local native/fluent speakers of the language of your interest who also want to learn yours.
Yup, simple as that!
Say you are Brazilian and speak both Portuguese and English fluently – you can find a Danish native who wants to either learn Portuguese or improve their English! The app is free, and you can chat with anyone through the app. What I personally did is I bought a book (just get any book/newspaper/etc.) in Danish for a low price and translated word after work at home. Then, I would have a meeting with my language partner (a Danish journalist) whom I was teaching Russian, after which he would help me read the book out loud to improve my pronunciation. Remember, no one is expecting you to be a professional tutor – most language partners are either complete beginners (which makes it very easy for you to teach them everything you know) or fluent speakers who want to practice more – so there is no need to prepare heavy materials on grammar rules and exceptions in advance
Danish Class 101
I tried around 5 different online platforms for learning Danish, and I must say this one is the best so far. Perfect for beginners (from A1 to B2), there are classes on several different topics, vocabulary lists, grammar lessons, phrases, idioms, and more. What I also love about the platform is that it offers precise culture-related lists of expressions, from “Flattering Lines To Impress Natives” (link: https://www.danishclass101.com/danish-vocabulary-lists/flattering-lines-to-impress-native-speakers) to “Most Useful Words and Phrases When Reading Food Packaging” (link: https://www.danishclass101.com/danish-vocabulary-lists/most-useful-words-and-phrases-for-reading-food-packaging)
The website is very structured and easy to navigate through, plus when learning any word, you can see the translation, one or two examples for use in a sentence and sound recordings for learning accurate pronunciation.
You can just navigate through the website and learn a word here and there, or take the step-by-step lessons, or use flashcards – then when you are confident that you have learned and remembered the new term, you can add it in your word bank and check it out later.
The website is free to use, but there are 4 more subscription plans for access to more lessons and materials. If you plan on buying a subscription, you can use the code VIP65 to get a 65% discount (not applicable for Premium PLUS). They also have an app named LearnDanishWords, and although it includes a large number of materials and audible lessons, the interface may seem a little outdated to most. I only used the website to learn Danish, although it’s good to have both. ;)
This is a platform for one-on-one online language teaching/learning. Again, the only one out of a few platforms I have tested that I found more comfortable to use, inexpensive, and had only positive experiences with. Unlike other types of platforms for language learning, iTalki is suitable for both intensive learning with a teacher (individual lessons) as well as finding a language partner. You can choose to start from the beginning and get all the materials from your teacher or learn Danish by yourself elsewhere and hire the teachers just for practicing conversations – it’s all up to you! (and the size of your pocket, to be more accurate)
There are also two types of teachers on iTalki: Professional Teachers (certified) and Community Tutors (uncertified, but mostly natives with a flair for teaching, who normally have cheaper offers than the professional teachers.
The prices for classes differ depending on the teacher’s offer but usually cost between 80 DKK and 300 DKK per hour. You can also pay a lower price for a trial lesson of 30 minutes to see if the teaching style is suitable for you before you buy more lessons or packages. You can also find useful articles on the website concerning all aspects of language learning and notebooks where you can input your essay and ask someone to correct it. If you want to exchange language skills, you can either find a language partner or become a community tutor for the language you are native in – the money you will receive for the classes you teach can easily be transferred to your student wallet and used to pay for Danish courses with another teacher.
Perfect for beginners!
A good platform that has everything you need: all the basics, well-structured lessons with audio recordings, thorough grammar explanations, topic-focused conversation examples, tests, and exercises.
The reason I find it one of the best investments is that the subscription is for one year and costs as little as 695 DKK (student price). Even if you are not a student, you can still apply for the discount (the standard price is 995 DKK) if you provide a short message expressing your motivation to learn and circumstances that may present your financial situation and explain the need for a discount. The answer normally come in 1-2 days, after which you can immediately buy the subscription (it’s a one-time subscription, and you will not be further charged after 1 year) and start learning!
Just as DanishClass101, this platform has a great “Phrasebook” with very specific phrases such as “Danishisms” or all the words and expressions you need to know when going out (it even has a list of famous Danish names – great for learning more about the culture and using them as a conversation topic to start with your Danish colleague or classmate). But to stress it again, the grammar lessons are pure gold on this website. Ever been in a Danish class where you paid over 3000 DKK for a 6-week course with a professional teacher, and they don’t know how to explain when and why they use “tro” or “synes”? Or when to use “en” and when to use “et” before a noun? Mystery solved: you have all the detailed explanations on SpeakDanish.dk.
Once you’ve learned a little Danish – how to keep yourself motivated and where to find new words to learn?
Buy a book written in Danish.
It can be any book – a children’s book, a romance novel (an easy one), or even one with cooking recipes. You will start recognizing some words, then searching up others, then understanding the different uses of those words in different contexts – then slowly get better and better and understanding written Danish. Think of how great it will feel to get a new job and be able to read the contract without someone’s help! Tip: You can also start by reading newspapers. Generally, there are always free newspapers from B.T. at every metro station. If you plan on staying in Denmark for longer, a great way to get out of your comfort zone and learn more about the society you live in is by keeping yourself updated with the local news.
Watch local T.V. Series/Shows and Movies.
Denmark has GREAT drama production, to be honest. Borgen, Broen, Forbrydelsen are some of the best drama series in Scandinavia (subjective opinion) – and a great way to hear more of the local pronunciation. If you get more advanced at Danish and watch one episode of The Rain, followed by an episode of Dicte – you may as well start noticing how the actors’ accents differ because of the geographical area. One very entertaining comedy movie as well is Klovn (very well-known), there is also a set of series, but the film is a must-watch if you want to understand some of the dark jokes your Danish colleagues may say during a night out. Alternatively, try and opt for Danish subtitles when watching Netflix in other languages – it may not be as relaxing as you planned it to be. Still, practice makes perfect, and this alternative for “passive learning” is also great to learn new words and adapt your ears to the sounds.
Find a podcast of your interest.
Yes, it could be ten times harder to understand a fast-speaking native Dane (probably also using a more complex terminology you haven’t studied yet) without even seeing the words, but hey – nothing comes easy! I think it is a great challenge if you have managed to reach the intermediate speaker level. Plus – if you listen to a podcast that truly matches your interests, it will keep you motivated to continue learning more – and for really adventurous and ambitious students, even discuss the topic you listened about with other Danish people!
Thank you for reading. If you have more tips and tricks, feel free to comment or reach us directly! Stay motivated and remember: practice makes perfect!
Good luck learning Danish ;)