If you have always wanted to learn Danish, you’re nowhere near alone; tens of thousands of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! Danish is a language that captures a rich culture and history. The Danish language can be found not only in Denmark, but also in pockets all over the world, including in Europe, Canada and the United States.
But you might have a lot of questions about why you should learn Danish or what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the Danish language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right tools and technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
Why Learn Danish?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning Danish, these reasons are especially true.
To start, if you know the Danish language, you open yourself up to a world of Danish speakers. There are roughly 5.4 million people who speak Danish in Denmark as a first language, and a few million more, too, who speak it as a second or third language, scattered around the globe!
One of the coolest parts about learning Danish is that it’ll help you understand languages that are closely related to it, like Swedish and Norwegian, which also come from the same language family — the North Germanic languages, which are also often called the Scandinavian languages. That means these three languages share a whole lot of similar-sounding vocabulary and grammar patterns that give them a lot of linguistic overlap, since they all derived from the same ancestor. Some language scholars say they can even be considered dialects of the same language!
So if you know Danish, you technically will have a much easier time talking to and understanding the roughly 20 million people in the world combined who also speak Danish or who speak Norwegian or Swedish.
Native speakers of English will be relieved to learn that because Danish and English come from closely related branches of the same language family, Danish is considered a fairly easy language for English speakers to learn when it comes to grammar and vocabulary! (Danish pronunciation, however, is a different story.) The two languages are very similar in their sentence structures and vocabulary; there are a lot of words in Danish that resemble their English counterparts; just take the seasons vinter and sommer, for example. That means it can sometimes be quite easy to read a Danish sentence and get the gist of it in English.
Whether it helps you master other North Germanic languages faster and more easily or it gives you a new understanding of the English you already speak, there’s no doubt that if you learn Danish, you’ll have a learning advantage right from the start!
Benefits Of Learning Danish
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like Danish is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways you can make a positive impact on your life if you learn Danish.
- Learn Danish For Travel — When the spirit of adventure strikes, don’t let language barriers hold you back. When you have Danish in your back pocket, you have a passport to many new corners of the world. Learning Danish not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning Danish lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it. Whether it’s the country’s famous castles or the streets of Copenhagen, you’ll be more equipped to venture off the beaten path and explore all the Danish-speaking world has to offer when you have Danish in your linguistic repertoire.
- Live The Danish Language Abroad — Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you hit the tourist hotspots by day and work at night, live with a host family or retire in a place with a slower pace of life, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak Danish, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the Danish-speaking world to explore. When you learn Danish, you open up a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
- Build Your Business Danish Skills — Today the world is more connected economically than ever before. The sweeping tides of globalization mean that companies and organizations today are operating across international borders and boundaries. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning Danish is a no-brainer for success. The European continent is an emerging market full of opportunity for businesses. Learning the Danish language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in Denmark and other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with Danish-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
- Use Language To Train Your Brain — Building any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Learning Danish is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Picking up a new language involves making connections between words and what they represent, taking apart and putting together grammatical structures, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. There are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning Danish.
- Immerse Yourself In Danish Culture, Unfiltered — Learning Danish opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated Danish-speaking writers like Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard and Karen Blixen in their native Danish is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful and colorful expressions. Through the lens of Danish you get a more active immersion in more contemporary Danish-language media like podcasts, radio shows, audiobooks, and TV shows. The stories and recipes of culinary creations like stegt flæsk, the dialogue of famous Danish films, and the lyrics of classic Danish songs all become accessible to you when you learn the Danish language. And if you’re from a family with Danish-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning Danish is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learn Danish Basics: Danish Lesson For Beginners
Learning Danish Pronunciation, The Danish Alphabet And Danish Spelling
Danish pronunciation is known to be notoriously difficult for speakers of many world languages, including English. Unfortunately, just looking at a Danish word doesn’t alway clue you in to how it’s pronounced, but that’s also the case in English — think about how a non-English speaker might struggle with words like “cough,” “colonel” and “knight,” for example.
Though Danish uses the same Latin alphabet that English does, not all of the letters sound the same as they do in English, and there are three extra vowels that native English speakers likely won’t recognize — å in a word like årvågen (“vigilant”), æ in a word like læder (“leather”) and ø in a word like fløde (“cream”). You’ll have to learn these vowel sounds and their unique pronunciations as you learn Swedish!
There are certainly many other tricky elements of Danish pronunciation that learners must get used to. For example, you must learn how different consonants are pronounced in different circumstances, like how the letter g isn’t usually pronounced unless it’s at the beginning of a word or syllable and how d typically becomes silent after n or l. (That’s not to mention all the other trouble d causes for non-native Danish speakers.)
And then there are vowel-consonant combinations that are pronounced nothing like they appear, like av in a word like lufthavnen (“the airport”) and ej in a word like at rejse (“to travel”). (When it comes to Danish spelling and phonetics, be warned that there are many discrepancies between the way Danish words are spelled and the way they’re pronounced.)
Don’t worry if you can’t master the nuances of Danish pronunciation and spelling right away; it takes time and practice! The best way to remember these rules is just to practice over and over, especially by reading texts out loud or practicing with native speakers. Watching Danish TV and movies or listening to Danish-language podcasts, radio and film can certainly help you master Danish pronunciation and sound like a native Danish speaker.
Learning Danish vocabulary isn’t as hard as you might think. Though it takes time and practice, you’ll find there are a lot of Danish words and phrases that are connected with English expressions you already know.
Danish and the other Scandinavian languages derived from the Old Norse spoken by the Vikings. There are plenty of words that made their way into English from Old Norse, so you’ll instantly recognize some Old Norse-derived Danish vocabulary right off the bat. And you can recognize other words, too, that are similar between English and Danish because of the fact that the two languages both belong to branches of the Germanic language family. Take, for example, the verbs at danse (“to dance”), at bringe (“to bring”) and at komme (“to come”).
Of course, learning Danish vocabulary is a challenge that takes time, patience, and the right tools, even if you already have an advantage from the start.
Basics Of Danish Grammar
Verbs are key elements of any Danish sentence. Whenever you want to express that someone or something does something or is something else, you need a Danish verb.
One of the most difficult elements for English speakers of learning many of the world’s languages is dealing with pesky verb conjugations in languages like Spanish and German. Luckily, in Danish, verbs aren’t conjugated according to who or what is doing the action, meaning they maintain the same form regardless of the subject. For example, a verb like at elske (“to love”) starts in the infinitive form (before its ending is changed, and often seen with the marker at, or “to”). In the present tense, with the pronoun jeg (“I”), it becomes jeg elsker (“I love”). With the pronouns vi (“we”) or hun (“she”), for example, the verb phrase becomes vi elsker (“we love”) and hun elsker (“she loves”), with the verb remaining in the same form and only the pronoun changing in the present tense. That makes learning Danish verbs that much easier!
Danish verbs are conjugated, however, according to their tense, or when the verb is taking place, like the present or the past, for example. You’ll have to learn separate verb endings and the rules that govern how to use them depending on the type of verb you’re dealing with and its tense. You’d say jeg elsker (“I love”) in the present tense, as mentioned in the example above, but in the past tense, it would become jeg elskede (“I loved”).
Of course, there are many irregular Danish verbs, too, and they don’t always follow the same rules as regular verbs that act in accordance with certain grammar rules and patterns. So be prepared to practice these verbs and learn them separately!
Knowing how to use Danish verbs is essential to being able to express yourself in Danish, and you’ll likely spend a large part of your Danish learning journey focusing on the grammar of Danish verbs. Once you master them, you’ll be well on your way to speaking Danish with fluency.
Unlike in English, each Danish noun has a gender, a concept you might be familiar with if you’ve ever studied a Romance language like French or Spanish or another world language like German. The fact that nouns are assigned a gender doesn’t mean that every person, place, object or idea in these languages has an inherent biological sex; it’s just a system of grammatical categorization that exists in many world languages that affects how speakers use these languages.
The Danish language has two grammatical genders, or groups of nouns — common and neuter. While there are a few rules that will help you keep the gender classifications of Danish noun organized in your mind, for the most part, these gender assignments are arbitrary, without rhyme or reason to help guide you as you learn Danish. Why, for example, is banan (“banana”) assigned the common gender, while æble (“apple”) is considered to be neuter?
Gender in Danish becomes important when considering which definite article (the equivalent of the English word “the”) or indefinite article (the English “a” or “an”) pairs with each noun. Common nouns take the indefinite article en, like in the words en skole (“a school”). Neuter words take the article et, like the word et hus (“a house”).
Whether the article is definite or indefinite affects where the article is placed — as you can see above, the article comes before the noun if it’s indefinite. If the article is definite (“the”), it attaches to the end of the noun itself. So for the common noun banan (“banana”) from above, en banan is “a banana,” whereas bananen is “the banana.” And for the neuter noun hus (“house”), et hus is “a house,” and huset is “the house.” A major part of learning Danish nouns involves memorizing and knowing how to use their gender classifications, so it’s important to practice this concept!
Luckily, Danish, like English, for the most part did away with the pesky case marking system on nouns and their articles that stuck around in other Germanic languages. If you’ve ever learned or tried to learn German, you know that it can be a nightmare to try to figure out when to use the definite articles der, die or das—among several others. Like in English, there are only a few remaining vestiges of case marking in Danish, meaning using definite and indefinite articles (“the” and “a”) is a much simpler process than in many other languages.
There are many other rules regarding how to treat plural nouns, demonstrative adjectives like “this” and “that,” and regular adjectives that describe nouns’ characteristics. And keep in mind that many Danish nouns, like many Danish verbs, are irregular, meaning they don’t follow an easily memorized set of rules and will have to be learned on their own.
As you learn Danish, you’ll get to know the rules governing how Danish nouns and adjectives behave in certain situations. It might be tricky at first, but it’s all part of the process of learning Danish grammar!
Basic Danish Phrases And Danish Greetings
To speak like a native Danish speaker, there are certain must-know Danish phrases and expressions that will help you navigate your way through a conversation.
The best place to start, of course, is with “hello”! There are many common greetings in Danish to choose from, the most popular of which is the ever-versatile and almost always appropriate Hej! (pronounced like “Hi!”) or its more playful, diminutive forms halløj and halløjsa. Nå, hva ‘så? (like the English “Hey, what’s up?”) is also great for informal, colloquial greetings between friends.
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll want to talk about who you are and perhaps where you’re from. To say your name, you can say Jeg hedder X, or “My name is X.” To find out other people’s names in Danish, you can ask Hvad hedder du? (“What is your name?”). The way to say where you come from in Danish is Jeg er fra X (“I am from X”), and to ask where someone is from, you can say Hvor er du fra? (“Where are you from?”).
Saying goodbye in Danish sounds a whole lot like saying hello, only twice over. One of the most common and versatile farewells is hej hej, which is just the word for “hey” repeated again. There are also plenty of other great options like Vi ses! (“See you!”), Ha’ en god dag! (“Have a good day!”) or the more formal and polite farvel (sort of like “farewell”).
There are many other useful conversational Danish words, phrases and expressions you’ll get to know as you learn Danish, from ja (“yes”), nej (“no”) and Tak! (“Thank you!”) to Rart at møde dig! (“Nice to meet you!”), Hvor er X? (“Where is X?”) and Taler du engelsk? (“Do you speak English?”)
When you learn these Danish phrases and hundreds more like them, including the most popular Danish colloquial sayings and expressions, you’ll be better able to communicate with native Danish speakers with ease.
Ways To Learn Danish
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn Danish — or any new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming!
Of the scores of people who speak and study Danish as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you to learn Danish.
What's The Quickest And Easiest Way To Learn Danish?
You’ll find that the fastest and easiest way to learn Danish is the way that offers you the least amount of friction — so if you can’t stand shuffling through textbook pages or you get bored flipping Danish flashcards, you might want to stick to a method that’s more exciting or engaging. Knowing yourself is key to success. Here are just a few of the ways to learn Danish quickly:
- in a classroom setting or with one-on-one instruction from a Danish teacher or tutor
- with paid or free online Danish courses, classes, software or apps
- with Danish media resources like podcasts, playlists, books, movies and TV shows
Learning Danish In The Classroom
Danish is studied in many school systems and universities around the world. Danish classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the Danish language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Depending on how large a class is and how engaged the teacher is, learning in a classroom might be a less personalized experience, but having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though full-time students make up a large proportion of Danish classroom learners, plenty of working adults enroll in Danish classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll likely find them in languages like Danish with just a little searching. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly Danish class after work or on the weekends can really improve your Danish language skills in a measurable way.
Learning Danish With A Danish Tutor
Private Danish tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled Danish tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of Danish that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And Danish tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master Danish tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software and Online Danish Courses
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online Danish courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn Danish on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant Danish learning experience available.
Can You Learn Danish For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay with spending more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options to learn Danish for free or for cheap!
Free Online Danish Courses And Apps For Learning Danish
There’s no shortage of free Danish courses, apps and content you can find on the web and on your phone. From Danish grammar wikis to online forums and Danish classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of them are better than others in the ways they’re organized and how thoroughly they explain new concepts, so take them with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content that’s in free apps or that’s scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive Danish lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these Danish resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning Danish With Native Danish Speakers
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a friend who’s a native Danish speaker something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching Danish to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a Danish person or Danish speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion Danish Learning
Danish immersion programs or some form of immersive Danish language travel are definitely the most extreme and intensive ways to learn a new language, and they’re not for everyone. (They’re also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language and surrounding yourself with native Danish speakers will force you to make rapid progress in Danish or another target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and Danish classes, and practice with Danish native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition through Danish immersion.
Useful Danish Media To Learn Danish For Free Or Cheap
When you don’t have access to Danish classes and teachers or even native Danish speakers, there are still plenty of Danish media resources to help you get on your way to fluency in Danish. Most of them can be accessed for free online or from a library or found for very cheap — or even through a subscription for a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify you’re likely already paying for!
Books To Learn Danish
If you like to read, you’ll find a whole range of literature written in Danish that can help you master the Danish language. There are thousands of Danish books that make great learning resources for Danish learners, from the beginner-level preteen-geared book Kidnapning to works that are more appropriate for intermediate and advanced learners, like the historical fiction novel Haabet or the famous and widely renowned Kongens fald.
Using books to learn Danish is a great way to sharpen your reading skills and to understand how the Danish language is used in a whole wide range of contexts, from historical fiction to fairy tales to personal essays to collections of short stories to nonfiction and everything in between. Reading books in Danish helps you move at your own pace, and you can stop to consult a Danish dictionary if you need extra help along the way. Keeping a language journal of unfamiliar Danish words and expressions helps you build your vocabulary. Plus, you can get some extra speaking and Danish pronunciation practice by reading the book aloud.
Learning Danish With Audio Lessons, Danish Songs And Danish Podcasts
There are many online Danish audio lessons you can find that can teach you the basics of Danish vocabulary and grammar without needing to look at a page or a screen. Danish audio lessons are great for multitasking; you can listen to them in the car or in the background of another activity, like commuting to work, cooking dinner or taking a walk in your neighborhood.
Similarly, Danish podcasts and Danish audiobooks are a great way to learn passively while you do something else that requires your visual attention. Luckily, there are lots of audio resources to pick from, and many of them are free. Danish podcasts like One Minute Danish are great for beginner learners who need to be walked through grammar and vocabulary topics in English, and others like Third Ear are suitable for more advanced learners who like true crime and more off-the-wall topics and want to listen to more nuanced conversation and storytelling in Danish.
And listening to Danish songs can be a great learning method, too. With songs, a chorus or group of lyrics is often repeated more than once, giving you plenty of opportunities to hear lyrics over and over. You can find many playlists of Danish songs on Spotify that are often organized by proficiency level, too, from beginner playlists to more advanced ones.
It’s important to keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with ways to practice writing, reading, and speaking Danish, too.
Learning With Danish TV Shows And Danish Movies
Watching Danish movies and Danish TV shows is an excellent way to connect with the Danish language in a fun, engaging format. You can find a lot of good Danish-language content of all different genres and for all learning proficiency levels on streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime.
When you’re watching, you can choose to display subtitles in Danish for some extra reading practice. Try to avoid watching media dubbed in your native language, as you won’t end up hearing any Danish! If the dialogue is too fast, you can pause what you’re watching to give yourself a chance to process what you’re hearing and look up and write down unfamiliar words. And when you use movies and TV series to learn Danish, don’t be afraid to break them up into chunks to give your brain some rest.
Learning Danish With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Danish learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel Danish lessons are crafted to get you having real-life conversations in Danish with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a foreign language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning Danish — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia Danish content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your Danish pronunciation, too.
Danish Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-sized lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Danish you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Danish for an upcoming business meeting? Our Danish language courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn Danish anytime, anywhere.
Learn Danish — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a foreign language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the Danish phrases, terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For Danish Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning Danish. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free Danish lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Danish with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!