Learning Danish


I have been thinking about taking the “studieprøve” which is the Danish exam at the C1 “Proficient user” level. To be able to do this, I need to become a “Proficient user”, so I have been doing a lot of Danish writing.


To get better, I have been making myself flashcards on memrise, maybe someone else would find them useful too?


I bought two (very reasonably priced) books for students at my level. There are not many available. There are more than a handful of beginner’s books but there are only a smattering of upper-intermediate books. Add to that how picky I am about Danish language textbooks, I don’t have much choice. I reserved two books from the library that are at my current level. They are both called, I am not lying, “Danish is hard”. One is about pronunciation, the other is grammar drills. Who are they trying to kid? It’s no Mandarin, this one.


Skriv på dansk! has some resources and workshops to help me improve my writing. Unfortunately, there is a stench of patronisation on all the pages. In the preface addressed to my teacher “The texts are taken directly from the second-language context the students live in and can therefore be used as a launchpad for discussions with a view to expanding the students’ cultural competence.” What are the texts about, you ask? The environment, men and women’s roles, children, integration, health, the usual. Goodness me, if they had a text about anything that I choose to read every day on my favourite websites, I’d explode with joy. But it’s fine. IT’S FINE. It’s not like the test will be on things I’m actually interested in or anything, it’ll be about this “second-language context” guff I am supposed to be so interested in.


*And* in line with what the government seems to think I require from a language course, they go into great detail about “types of non-fiction” and “constructing an argument”, the skills taught in Year Six back in the old country. Considering you cannot even get on this course unless you have been in formal education (in a country Denmark respects), for more than 15 years (or however long), this is a damned cheek. I already know how to structure a bloody opinion piece, I just don’t know the vocab for it in THIS language.


The book’s not a total bust, the example sentences at the back are ALL about how cheap and healthy potatoes are. Which is either an act of extreme Danish irony genius or an earnest stab at saying something that is uncontroversial (hilariously.. and also kinda ironically). Either way, lols all around.


My other book is about getting the endings right on words. This is something I need to the very MAX.


So, that’s good.


I’m on goodreads and I joined a Danish book group. They have a challenge part of the group and I signed up to read ten novels by Danish-authors in ten months (starting from next month). There are ten different categories:- modern, short story collection, poetry anthology, novel from before 1960, male author, female author, an author I haven’t read before, a novel set in the Danish provinces, a crime novel and a debut novel.


Sounds like fun but we’ll see how long I can keep it up.


Anything to avoid editing my own novel into a second draft.


7 thoughts on “Learning Danish

  1. Hi, I’ve been reading your website for some time but never commented, it’s so great to hear somebody else voice all the things about this country that no-one talks about. It’s nice to know I’m not going mad!!
    I’ve taken the studieprøve and just wanted to let you know that out of a class of 15+ students, only 2 actually passed the writing part of the test. This is apparently done on purpose as the government don’t want foreigners studying in the universities. I can’t remember who it was who said it, but an opposition politician during the last election was on the radio and was talking about foreigners in Denmark and the studieprøve came up. The writing part is the one everyone fails as it’s the easiest test to just give out bad grades.
    I got a 00 grade and complained to my school but they were no help. I even challenged my grade and got a letter back from the censor that made no sense whatsoever and had little to do with my actual exam paper. I’d always passed the practice papers we wrote in class so in the end I got a letter from my teacher to send to the university and I got in anyway.
    The topics you get for the speaking exam were quite challenging but the listening part is easy, as long as the person who is reading out the text speaks clearly. The reading is hard, one of the texts I got was about the breeding patterns of rare birds on some island I’d never even heard of. There’s really no way of preparing as the topics could be absolutely anything.


    1. That’s really interesting, thanks for telling me. I wish I was surprised that underhanded crap goes on.

      I’ve heard of white foreigners getting better marks on speaking exams than other foreigners because of their “accent”. (When the accents of non-white foreigners were heads and shoulders above the white ones). Makes sense that they would do this too.

      Good job your teacher was on your side!

      I’ll be paying as an independent student because I have lived in Denmark for longer than three years so don’t qualify for tuition anymore (I quit around module 4) It’s a considerable amount of money. If I’m going to fail however well I perform, then maybe it’s not worth it.

      I’m really nervous about the speaking test, I’ve seen the one example test online and it looks like total balls. Like, I have literally NOTHING to say about the EU or terror in Denmark. :/


      1. As someone who suffers from anxiety I was always terrified about speaking tests the most, but as soon as I started speaking my teacher and the censor started writing down notes and not even looking at what I was doing so i just read off my sheet of notes, which technically you’re not allowed to do! But the topic I ended up with was genetic engineering. I can’t even speak about that in English (my native language), never mind Danish, so I don’t feel like I cheated too much ;)
        Honestly, unless you really need it for getting into uni, there’s not much point in doing it. My school offered evening classes twice a week for six months and all we did was exam prep. I don’t think I learned anything except what was required for the exam and the odd correction from writing practice.


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