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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germanist123

I went to Denmark with only my Duolingo knowledge. Here are my experiences.

I'll start off by saying that I'm a language teacher - I teach German at a school in the USA. Learning Danish has always been a dream of mine, because my dad's family emigrated from there in the early 1900's. My knowledge of German has certainly helped me in my Danish learning, because I can often figure out word meanings without having to look up the word.

I traveled to Denmark (and Sweden and Norway) this summer to visit the country and to also put into practice the language I've been learning on here. I traveled around the "islands" of Denmark - the two main islands, and then Æro and Bornholm.

My very first day in Copenhagen was a rush. I used some basic Danish at the store to buy some water and food. I didn't understand everything, but I could get by. I stayed at an AirBnB in a suburb. My host started out speaking English to me, but I told him I was learning Danish, so he switched. And this is my biggest observation: Danes will absolutely speak Danish to you if you want, BUT I don't think they're accustomed to people learning their language. Be prepared for full on, native-level language.

As is usually the case with learning a language, I had no problems with reading anything while I was in Denmark. I'd have to slog through some of the stuff at museums that I read in Danish - but I could understand most of it. The main issue (especially with Danish!) is the speaking and listening. I could speak in slow, basic sentences, but understanding the responses was often a challenge. It got better as I spent more time there - and I could see myself getting better if I lived there, naturally - but my several weeks were not enough to really get better.

So to sum up, I feel like my knowledge of Danish from Duolingo was sufficient for my trip, especially considering that Duolingo is absolutely free. I thank Duolingo and the authors of the Danish course for making my dream happen.

Has anybody else here traveled to Denmark with only their Duolingo knowledge? How did it go?

August 13, 2016

24 Comments

Sorted by top post

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/larsth

Hi, I am a native speaker of Danish, English is 1st L2 language.

Some useful information: If your want to say - in Danish - that your are learning - and ask could your speak a bit slower please. This is the sentences your will say: Jeg er ved at lære dansk. Vil du tale lidt langsommere?

Good start for a conversation: Talk about the weather. Is is a topic which is discussed very often.

FYI,

To pronounce the soft "d" in danish:. Pronounce it with "th" from the word "the" : So if you want to pronounce "Odense", then pronounce it like "Othense". You will always get it right the 1st time (my experience).

L2 is a non-native language, and a L1 language is your native language.

"please" is not translatable to Danish ("tak" is not "please"), so we seldom use it, when speaking /writing English.

August 31, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MrsWessel

This is so nice to read. Thanx for sharing your experience! I started learning Danish not so long ago using Duolingo, because I will need it to do a project pretty soon. I love Duolingo and it's been easier to learn Danish for me than I expected. Being Dutch and having learned a few languages already helps a lot, but I also think the method is really cool and the explanations are really very clear. So, thanx. Having said all this I want to say that I went to the Aarhus-area for 6 days to combine a well needed vacation with getting to know the area and picking up the language a little faster. I reached level 8 when I got there. As herr Collins already pointed out: reading was not the problem, but speaking and understanding what they say! My experience with a German project years ago is that you just have to start speaking the language and you will get better at it every time you try. And people just like it if you try. We connected to the Danes very easily. Nice people. Everyone was so helpful in teaching us new vocabulary and some grammar. I first also struggled with the answers, but 3 days in I could talk to a guy in Det Gammle By in Aarhus (nice historic museum/experience) about wether he was respresenting a policeman or a soldier. He told us the whole story about what he represented and about when the police was founded. Very interesting and I got it! I was so thrilled! I am still struggling with the speed and with separating the words they use, but I am taking my lessons (almost) every day and I see that I am learning and getting better every day. So, my project will start in september. During the meetings we will speak english, our common language. But since I would be the only non-Dane, I expect it to be very handy to at least understand most of what they say during lunch or for instance if they talk in smaller groups amongst each other. I will still not be able to fully participate in Danish, but I will be able to connect and that usually makes the difference.

For me, also the Duolingo Danish was sufficient for my short trip. As I am learning more still every day I also expect that it will help me tremendously to do my project well in september.

Oh, btw: I learned that 'soda vand' or just simply 'vand' on a menu can mean soda-pop as well. 'Dansk vand' is mineral water with bubbles(med brus). And I discovered Dansk vand med citrus. Nice! Owww, 'med' is a diffcult word to pronounce correctly and casually ;-)

August 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/book.bound

i was in Denmark this summer, and had only done duo for a couple of months at that point, so only knew basic vocab. It wasn't a problem, because most people spoke in english and i didn't venture to try out my danish skills with them. However, the opportunity arose at a hot dog stand, where my friend ordered just a sausage but i wanted the lady to understand that i wanted the bread bun as well. I kept saying "bread!" to her but she wouldn't understand, and then in an inspired moment i yelled out, "brød!" and she nodded her head. It wasn't much, but it was very motivating for me to continue practising on here.

September 1, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/redrabbit8

Thank you for this story. It gave me a huge smile. It's those little successes that help to keep motivated.

April 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mravawishes

Wonderful and immensely motivating. Here, take a lingot. :D

September 22, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/truelefty

I wish I had the chance to travel to a country in which they spoke some language I learnt only in Duo! Your experience is very motivating :)

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mezzanayne

I just got back from a trip to Denmark/Sweden (6 days near Copenhagen and another 2 in Malmö, Sweden) about a month ago. Although I've only been learning Danish for about 7 months (primarily using Duolingo but also 2 other language learning apps) I was surprised at how much Danish I was able to pick up on. Almost everyone I encountered spoke at least a little English but there was very little written English (on menus, street signs, etc) and I felt that my language learning helped immensely. I didn't feel quite comfortable enough with attempting an actual conversation, but I was able to order food and respond to basic questions easily enough, as well as say "undyskld" when I needed to get through a crowd.

August 25, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thesamm72

While I haven't been to Denmark (or really outside of the country except for the time I went to Canada for a few days) I do have a friend from there who came to the US via the exchange student program. Then I started Danish on here and I started talking to her in Danish. And you are right about the "they wont expect you to learn their language... but expect full on native", because she started rattling off to me :D. But with the help of Duo and google translate, I could understand what she was saying.
And now she has been pushing me to do more Danish, and is even sending me a Harry Potter book in Danish, even though I wont be able to read it for a long, long time :( Thank you for sharing your story.

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeviPolasak

I'm going to Colombia in about 8 days, and Spanish is easier to understand spoken than a German language, at least to me it is. So I'm super excited and eager to see my results :D

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZPLOOT.

dude , what city will you go? si quieres intentar hablar español , te podria a ayudar con algunas palabras de aqui de Colombia.

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeviPolasak

Voy a ir a Calcara, o casi eso xD. No se el nombre, porque mi madre hizo las boletas del viaje

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZPLOOT.

creo que te refieres a Cartagena

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-BellaLuna-

That is very cool! Thanks for sharing your story with us! :)

August 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/karen686230

How are you doing with the pronunciation? I am finding it difficult. Do you have any tips? My teenaged relative in Denmark told me it is like they "swallow their words." I would appreciate tips.

August 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germanist123

Getting better at pronunciation just takes time and exposure to the language. You have to learn what's silent and not. The example I was told in Denmark was the name of Copenhagen's biggest shopping street, "Strøget". It is pronounced like "struh". The ending of "et" gets swallowed by the Danes. The computer voice here in Duolingo is really pretty good, I think. And it is the same voice on the Copenhagen bus system!

August 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BethJackso5

I wondered where I recognised the voice from!

October 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MrsWessel

I don't mind the written letters, I just try to find out which letters or with combinations of letters make which sound. And I just keep repeating what the voice says untill I think it sounds somewhat similar. Ha, try saying mørkerød brød and such nonsense. It does get easier. To me it helps to read out loud and every now and then just stick out my tongue completely if I have to, to get the sound right (e.g. 'med' is awful, but getting better). For me the trouble is in hearing and understanding their quickly spoken words. As soon as they reach the end of their sentence (or 2), I am still trying to digest the words somewhere halfway. This week I could read an entire presentation just fine and started doing my emails in Danish with a little help from Google translate. Calling is too hard for me at this point, since it's too quick and I still need to see someone in order to follow.

August 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/codygelb

I travelled to the Netherlands not too long ago only doing Duolingo. (I'm also German, which helped a lot). I was able to order things in restaurants no problem, understand 90% of what was written, and communicate rather easily with the people there. I also had some trouble with the answer I received, but as soon as the people understood that Dutch is not my first language, they slowed down and I understood much more.

I also had the experience of people automatically switching to english. Even though I would the answer in Dutch to the conversation to change sides, they most of the time continued to speak english with me. As you said with Danish, they're not used to non-dutch/belgian learning their language. Overall it was a big help. As a language fanatic I love duolingo and was happy I was able to learn dutch before going. It definitely improved my experience while there!

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/finndj

I travelled to Copenhagen using only the vocab gained on Duo, and I documented my experiences in some diary entries. Here is the link to those diary entries: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14781679

I now live in Copenhagen and study there, and my Danish is much better now.

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZPLOOT.

you make my cry..that experience looks just incredible.

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/finndj

No need to cry... I would love to go see Colombia... it seems as though we all wish for things we do not have... it must be human nature. :)

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZPLOOT.

Colombia is a wonderful country , with a lot of cultures , that make it magical. i dont have words to describe it , i am living here , and its incredible.

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hexonymous

I stayed in Denmark for over a month with mostly my Duolingo knowledge, and it was extremely useful for written Danish. While almost everyone spoke English, the written word was almost solely in Danish. I stayed in the country and not KBH, so that might be a factor. Speaking and understanding spoken Danish? Absolutely not. I purchased another program with native speakers, and it has helped immensely, but I still enjoy Duo as a supplementary addition. Danish is a uniquely difficult language to learn without immersing yourself and going full on native. Luckily, in my experience, the Danes were happy to teach and indulge me. Loved the country, and loved the Danes!

October 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mon.Alisa

That is true, whenever Danes recognize you are not Danish, they swiftly turn to English. They are so good at it! But as you said, they can appreciate you learn they language and they are very helpful :) But when I am with group of Danes, they do not bother to switch to English just because of me, so I feel out of place. But that is also a motivation for me why to learn Danish. :) I really like Danes. Aren't they funny and cute :D <3

May 6, 2019
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