I have now been in Denmark for around 3 months. Although I can survive with English, it is always useful to learn the language of the country you are in. So Danish lessons it is!
I started Danish lessons at the beginning of January. The Danish government offers free Danish lessons to all foreigners who move here, making this quite a painless decision, besides committing 3.25hrs a week for the lesson. This is, of course, a great way of enticing people to learn the language.
But what about the lessons themselves?
Well, being government-sponsored means that there is no choice where you can learn Danish, at least in our small town (to my knowledge). It seems to me that this has resulted in a quite chaotic system within the school I am attending. On my day of my first lesson I was told off for not going the week before (though my letter said specifically to turn up on the day I did). I was then placed in a class that had started over a month before, meaning that I didn’t start from the basics – I still don’t know my Danish letters, but I can say sentences!
Also, rather than having a well planned curriculum as I would have expected, lessons mainly consist of going through the exercises in the book one after the other with the teacher not always appearing to know what is coming next. However I am not sure this is completely the teacher’s/school’s fault. For a country that looks down on teaching to the exam for Danish citizens, it is surprising to see that this is the education they offer foreigners learning Danish in their own country.
Furthermore, I must admit that going from university level education to Danish lessons, where I am essentially at the level of a primary school kid (if that) has been a shock to the system, especially since the teacher’s enthusiasm for teaching matches that (i.e. very enthusiastic teacher).
Nevertheless, in spite of all these gripes, I HAVE actually learnt some Danish. Today I had my first decent (make that around 5 sentence) conversation with a colleague and she understood me (me choosing the one Dane who actually understands my efforts and often has to translate my Danish to other colleagues when I have tried it before has nothing to do with it ). So, after all, the scope of the lessons is being reached. Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining!