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How to Learn Danish Holistically

How to learn Danish holistically

Putting in the study hours day after day and even week after is great. Above all other things I think consistency may be the most important factor in learning a foreign language. But if you’ve been learning a language long enough you may have had an experience where, after learning vocabulary and grammar, you struggle to understand a basic conversation with a native speaker.

Sometimes it can feel like all those hours spent grinding it out in your textbook or listening to podcasts were worthless. Time invested in learning a language is never in vain; but the aspects of the language you practice, and the method you use to do so, can greatly impact the speed and efficiency of your progress.

In this post we’ll take a look how to learn the different parts of the language so that over time they coalesce into a complete working knowledge base that helps you whether you’re speaking, writing, listening, or reading.

This approach will be beneficial to you whether you’re learning Danish or another foreign language altogether.

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Look at the Danish language as whole not just its different parts

There’s a tendency in language learning to get so focus on one aspect of a language that you tend to lose sight of others. If you’re learning grammar you may slack on your vocabulary. If you’re dead set on developing your Danish accent your reading skills might fall on the back burner.

While it’s not always possible to practice all aspects of a language all the time, you want to guard yourself against learning one part in isolation of the others. A lot of times the typical study schedule for someone learning Danish might look like this:

  • Work through a Danish textbook lesson
  • Learn the list of vocabulary words from the lesson
  • Practice grammar through written exercises
  • Maybe try to memorize the new vocabulary

Other than trying to learn vocabulary through rote memorization there probably isn’t anything wrong with any of these activities. But if all you do to learn Danish is work through textbooks and do written exercises your speaking and listening abilities are going to suffer. This is an imbalanced approach to learning Danish.

A more balanced approach would be to take the same lesson from the textbook and complete the lesson, then use the language you learned from it in a variety of ways. You could find a native Danish speaker, either locally or online through language exchanges, and practice using the vocabulary words you learned from the lesson. You could also write a post and publish it online in a language learning community to be proofread by native speakers. It would be great if you could try to incorporate some of the grammar constructs you learned in the lesson and use them in your written post.

If you were to switch from a text based lesson to an audio based one (like DanishClass101), the opportunities to incorporate other parts of the language increases even more. If you’re using DanishClass101 you can listen back to the vocabulary words with their slow playback feature and try to mimic the pronunciation. This would be a great warm up to do before you practice with a native speaker. You can also use the site’s flashcard system to reinforce the words from the lesson.

Using the material you learn in a variety of ways will not only help you remember the works and concepts you learn, it will also help you develop a big picture view of the Danish language. No longer will you study grammar and wonder about pronunciation, or become skilled at speaking only to struggle when reading. Using this approach, your skills in all aspects of the language grow together in unison. Your vocabulary helps your reading which it turn helps you remember words when speaking; which will also help you be more creative when you write, and so on.

Tools to use for a more holistic approach

There are myriad of language learning tools you could use to learning Danish holistically, but some are better than others. We’ll cover a of the most essential to get you started.

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DanishClass101

I’m not just including DanishClass101 because this post in on their site. Their Danish podcast is one of the best tools for those trying learning all aspects of the Danish language. Their lessons are audio based, you can read along to the lesson transcripts, they teach you about grammar and cultural insights, and they help you practice pronunciation. This doesn’t even include their dictionary and flashcard system. Really the only language skill you’ll need to fill if you use DanishClass101 will be practicing with a native Danish speaker.

Lang-8

Lang-8 is a free site allows you to write posts and publish them online to be corrected by native speakers. The only expectation is that in turn you spend a little time correcting the entries of other learners who are writing in your native language.

Wespeke

Wespeke is a free to use language exchange where you can search native speakers by their native language and which language they are learning. The site allows you to practice with them via text or video chat and it’s great way to get in some solid speaking practice.

Final thoughts

Learning a language is never easy, whether you’re learning Danish or another language. It takes consistent time and effort before you see significant results. While being a faithful learner is vitally important, in and of it itself it might not be enough to see efficient gains in your language abilities.

The difference is made in your overall approach and strategy for learning the language. Some methods for learning Danish are better than others. Does the way you learn Danish splice up the language into separate and seemly unrelated parts? Or does it spread your efforts across the gamut of language skills?

The answer will determine your progress in the language. It could be the difference between whether you grow discouraged and give up, or whether your hunker down and push through.