News Translating: Parents need to be involved

From the Department of the Bleeding Obvious comes the news that if you want children to succeed, it is probably not a good idea to treat their parents like animals. And besides, most of them are already doing what you want and it’s still not working.

Terms of Reference

“Bilingual” doesn’t mean “someone who speaks two languages fluently” in Denmark.

Here, it means “someone with no Danish parents living in Denmark who intend to stay here longer than a five year contract”.

So, a child of a Dane in a mixed couple, is not “bilingual”. A child who travels the world with her Danish parents and picks up the local languages is not “bilingual”. Children born to “expats” are not “bilingual”.

“Non-western” means people from South America, Central America, all of Africa and parts of Asia.

“Western” means people from North America, Europe, Australasia and (possibly) parts of Asia. If they move to Denmark they are considered “expats” unless they marry a Dane.

Taken from Politiken: Expert: Parents must be involved if bilinguals have to learn Danish

No good comes from forcing parents to send their children to daycare.

More than half of bilingual children with a non-western background have large problems speaking Danish when they start primary school.

“If this development is going to be turned around, it is necessary to act in cooperation with daycare and parents.”

So says Agi Csonka. She is the director of Denmark’s Evaluation Institute which investigates and improves the quality of daycare and schools.

“Daycare cannot do this all alone. So there has to be a close cooperation with parents.

“A close cooperation can support the parents to develop their children’s language competences,” said Agi Csonka.”

Good experiences with suitcase of reading-books

The director tells that previously they had good results, when parents and institutions cooperate.

“They had a trial where a group of children got to take a suitcase of reading books home.

The trial showed very positive results. It shows that if parents get support, then their child’s level actually improves,” she said.

She thinks that three things need to be in place to help children on the right path: The right stimulation of children’s linguistic development, that staff have a high professional qualification – and as already stated a close cooperation with parents.

Parliament decided in 2011 that it should be possible to force the bilingual into day care but the Kommunernes Landsforening (KL) has no information on how widely this has been enforced in practice.

And amongst others, Venstre demanded that more of the bilingual children go to daycare.

Warning against forcing parents

“But force is far from the solution because most bilingual children actually already go to institutions”, points out Agi Csonka.

“So, we will not catch that many by forcing parents to send children to institutions,” she said.

There are several political initiatives to lift bilingual pupils’ linguistic competence. These include a large research project and a bilingual task force.

6 thoughts on “News Translating: Parents need to be involved

  1. As a person who went to a Danish school as a child and received the special education invandrer get I can say what probably puts us foreign kids off is the very lacklustre way Danish is taught to foreign kids and the overwhelming pressure we feel subliminally from all the propaganda weaved into the special education foreign kids get. It’s not just about learning Danish after all. It’s also laced with references to ‘how we do things here’ ‘what is really important’, and it revolves around shit emblems like the flag, and quasi religious holidays. If they cut that crap out, which alienates people from other cultures, I am 100% sure the success rate for foreign kids learning the Danish language would sky rocket.

    As always, all ‘problems’ to do with foreigners in Denmark are really quite simply solved: Denmark and Danes, please lighten the fuck up about your precious culture, the world has changed, changed in ways that far outreach what your limited mindset can expand to involve right now, but you are going to have to let the levy break, and let the foreigners in to CHANGE your world if you want any kind of balance in the future. The Danish solution so far has been to drive people out, stop more coming in, severely inhibit any families who do not ‘adhere’ and to cover it all up recently with the false hope of a new political regime. At the end of the day, Denmark is backward, behind and very very stupid in the way it ‘deals’ with foreigners.

    And to be frank, as a mate of mine who lives in a troubled inner city area in the UK known for it’s racial violence between factions and wholly unintegrated ‘foreigners’, “Christ, the foreigners in Denmark jump through a lot of hoops don’t they? Why are they still treated like second class citzens?”


    1. My school gets all the children in F-town who have just arrived in Denmark and they get to go to a introduction Danish class. The teachers there are shit-hot, so the kids coming out are really good at Danish. Then they go to other schools.

      The blind spot is the provision for children with shaky Danish in the mainstream.

      Our kommune are now moving towards a model where there IS no special class for intro-Danish and those children will be spread out across all the schools. That means, they get who they get and maybe that teacher will have experience and maybe that teacher won’t.

      Danish teachers do not differentiate by task, only by outcome, (non-jargonly, they give the same work to everyone and the ones who “can find out of it” finish/do a good job and the ones who can’t don’t finish/fuck it up), and so no one gets any sort of individual support.
      Meanwhile, the grading system is craziness on toast. You only get graded at 12 and then it is “Eurovision” style grades.
      12- excellent
      10- pretty good
      7- some mistakes
      4- many mistakes
      2- a lot of weaknesses
      00 – not passed
      -03 – not attempted

      I mean seriously, how are children expected to look at that grading system and think “Oh ok, I got 4, I need to improve to 7 I will need to do something differently in future.”
      Yeah, make fewer mistakes, dumbdumb. It’s all there in the descriptor. You are welcome!


  2. You gotta just love (no, you don’t, really) Danes complete incomprehension of how it works to be bilingual. Or how you get there from “here”.

    Example: Danes get all excited when they see me (of the highly desirable white-educated-western-immigrant set) with my half-Dane Spawn. “OOOOH,” they trill, “she’s going to be tosprog! How dejligt!” And then I speak to my child in English. “ERRRR,” they ask, “why are you speaking to her in English? You should speak Danish!” Uh, and exactly how, then, would she learn her second language? I mean, I’ve read a LOT about breastfeeding and nowhere has it said that language skills are transmitted through the boob. To be fair, the majority of younger Danes don’t bat an eye, it’s the older folk who seem to take issue. In fact, it’s only the gammels (yes, I am aware the plural of gammel is gamle and it should be de gamle, fuck Danish) who really get their urine soaked panties in a bunch (to the point of hauling the husband aside and telling him how he’s totally failing as a father) and they’ll be dead soon anyway. But since it is by far the older folk who whinge and vote and steer the debate, it is worth raising hell over.

    The fact is, and if folk here would just READ the studies done on bilingual children instead of spending money on making their own study, they would learn that yes, it does take children a bit longer to speak both languages fluently. They are learning two freaking languages at the same time, for christ’s sake! They are learning not only two languages, but also when to use which language and with whom and in what context. What is required is patience and understanding.


    1. I am going to invest in some boxing gloves as soon as I have kids, put it in the nappy bag. If anyone DARES pull that shit, I’ll just get them out and put them on while maintaining strong eye contact.


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