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Jeg har sporgsmål om danske skoler

Hej everyone !

So as the title says (hopefully in good Danish, but don't hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong), I have a few questions about Danish schools. I have started binge-watching the TV show "Rita" in the last few days, and it appears schools in Denmark are very different from French schools! Here are some facts that surprised me, please tell me if it really is normal in Denmark or if it is just an exaggeration to make the show more enjoyable.

  • Teachers and students seem very close: students call their teachers by their first name for example. In France we would do that til 10 years old at the most but after we would say Sir or Madam. Also, they seem to talk a lot one-on-one when they have any kind of problem. At one point, a teacher even invites a teenager to come to her home because the student feels sad. Isn't that a bit weird?
  • Everyone seems quite relaxed, with cushions on the floor for pupils to lie down whenever they like. I have to admit I'm a bit jealous.
  • Isn't the school career divided between primary school, secondary school and high school? In the show there are pupils from 6 to 16 approximately, all of them in the same building.

So here are some cultural differences I have picked up, if you have more info about it I would be glad to learn more!


November 19, 2016



hej CelChaussette! You've picked up a lot about Danish schools! • yes, first name is used for teachers. Though I remember a couple we called by last name, that was in highschool. • the one-on-one talk teacher-student is what we hope to see, because it is very helpful, but it is not always happening very much. Maybe the tv show has exaggerated this part. • It sounds like a pretty nice classroom with cushions on the floor! We didn't have this when I went to school, but have seen it in young kids classrooms in the USA. They "lie down whenever they like"? No, I don't think so, they have to sit up and do work! :-) • school is divided i two steps: 9 (or 10 years) elementary school, + 3 years highschool. Good luck learning Danish! :-)


Thank you very much! About the cushion part, of course I meant when they don't have classes haha. I really enjoy learning Danish, and watching this kind of show makes it even better!


I can confirm Camilla's description. Depending on your level in Danish and interest you may want to study the latest, and much debated, reform of teaching in 0 - 9'th grade, see e.g. http://www.aarhus.dk/skolereformen.


Again, depending on your level in Danish, a video on design of a modern school, very close to where I live, and where my 2 youngests kids have gone (one still there in 7th grade): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WtbA7_hSUCk


thank you Bent! good to see you here!


My Danish is not good enough yet, but thank you for the references!


Thank you for the comments on Danish schools. I'm very interested in this topic because I am a teacher at an American school. I've also been to several schools in Germany, and I'm wondering about some differences.

Are there different types of secondary schools? For example, in Germany they have the "Gymnasium" and the "Realschule", one for future university students, and one for more middle of the road students. Does this exist in Denmark?

How long has the first name basis been common in Denmark? This would never happen in the USA, and I've only seen it in films about German schools (never in any actual German schools I've been to!).

Mange tak!


In Denmark, the school levels which come directly after "folkeskolen" (ages 5 or 6 to 15 or 16) is called "ungdoms uddannelse". These are divided into two categories (as far as I know), "erhvervsuddannelse" (carpenters, mechanics and such), and "gymnasium". I don't know how the "gymnasium" is structured in Germany, but in Denmark there is indeed different types hereof, three to be exact. These are "handels gymnasium", "teknisk gymnasium" and "almen gymnasium".


The first name basis probably is related to the use of "du" rather than the polite form "De", which in the school has been the case for the last 2 generations according to the following thesis on the use of du and De: http://bjoernandersen.dk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/En-unders%C3%B8gelse-af-danskernes-anvendelse-af-tiltalepronominerne.pdf . Until around 60 years ago Danes also use the polite form De as for example in Germany, France and Spain, but it then began to fade. In the 50'ies a small majority actually was of the opinion that De should be abandoned entirely. Denmark is a quite egalitarian, non-hierachical (relatively speaking) society and in many ways communication is straigtht forward, to the point and informal. Well, with one clear exception: members of the Royalty are spoken to in the polite form, always. With politicians we always use the "du" form. It is not the same as being disrespectful, By the way, I believe it is also changing in Germany, I tend to use the polite Sie as I have been taught, but frequently spoken back to in the Du form (latest last week in Chicago meeting a customer of German origin there for the first time, we were "Du" with each other after about half an hour). in English there is for example no De and du difference (has there ever been?), but apparently the last name basis for teachers still the norm.


In English there was originally "thou" and "you", as you can read in Shakespeare's plays. "Thou" was the informal way of saying "you". Interesting to see that English has "sacrificed" the informal kind whereas Danish has marginalised the polite form.

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