Four students in class smiling because the teacher said something funny about how to learn Danish by heart. Elodie is the name of the girl to the right.

’Whaaat! We have to learn Danish by heart???’

If you’re trying to figure out how to learn Danish, you might find inspiration in Elodie’s story. According to her own account, she has been resisting to learn Danish for years. But recently she discovered her own key to success.

Elodie was a language enthusiast for most of her life. Her native language is French. She enjoyed learning a little Spanish, Portuguese and even a bit of German while growing up in France. And while those languages were soon forgotten, she did become practically fluent in English while travelling and living abroad in her youth. To be more precise: She was enthusiastic about learning languages – until she was introduced to Danish! The Danish language somehow seemed to resist all her efforts, so Elodie gave up!

Elodie is 43 years old and married to her Danish husband Jan. They met in Los Angeles 20 years ago.

Global family settling down in Denmark

Since they met, life and work has taken Elodie and her husband to many different countries, and they both love to travel. But recently the couple decided, that their two children aged 4 and 9 should grow up in Denmark. And now the family is settling in to stay.

The decision to move to Denmark put Elodie face to face with an old challenge, that had been haunting her: ‘I have to learn Danish!’ was her terrifying conclusion. And this time she was not intending to give up.

Knowing why is essential

When you ask Elodie, why she wants to learn Danish, she instantly lists her reasons. And there is no doubt about her determination. Elodie wants to learn Danish because:

  1. She wants to be there for her children and be able to help them with Danish homework.
  2. She wants to be able find an interesting job in Denmark.
  3. She wants to participate in voluntary work and create her own network in Denmark.

Motivation and method

A fun day in Elodie's class. She and her class mates are putting in a lot of effort to learn Danish by heart. And it works!

While her earlier attempts at learning Danish have failed, this time Elodie feels different. She is currently studying Level 2 in Intensive Danish at IA Sprog. And she can feel that she is making progress. Elodie thinks this is primarily due to two factors. One is her motivation. The other is her class including the teacher.

Elodie: “When our teacher Mette told us, that we had to memorize sentences, nobody in the class thought she was being serious. But we soon found out, that she meant business!”

At the next class, nobody had learned the sentences, and Mette scolded the class saying: “Look, I’m very worried about you. If you don’t do this, you are not going to learn!” After this episode things changed. The group started doing their homework and making progress fast. Elodie still doesn’t really enjoy the cramming, but she’s very happy about the results. She is making progress!

Elodie: “Mette is the kind of teacher, who makes you want to stay in the class and keep learning. And in my group we also meet, when we’re not having classes. We meet up at least once per module and chat through What’s app.”

Learning Danish with the Intensive Danish method like Elodie does, means coming to class twice a week. The teacher puts some very clear expectations on you, and if you follow these instructions, you can finish a whole level in just 8 weeks.

Another learning trick: Relax and learn with movies

It is always smart to do more than one trick, when you’re learning Danish. Elodie for example watches a Danish documentary drama ‘Historien om Danmark’ recommended to her by one of her classmates. And she recently went on vacation to China with her husband and children. On the plane she found time to watch two Danish movies! She feels this helps her learn Danish faster and recalls learning with movies, when she was learning English as a teenager.

Elodie’s preference for learning with movies is not just a hunch. It is supported by science! Research shows that having lots of input from movies, TV shows or even podcasts is a strong factor in supporting the process of second language acquisition. And it is highly recommended by the teachers at IA Sprog.

Having found her key to success Elodie is now getting ready for her next step: The level 2 test. Hopefully her story and some of her tricks can inspire you to hang in there and keep learning Danish too.