How should you practice Danish?

Simple Danish Newsletter #4

Hi friends,

Last week was all about how often you should practice your Danish (using spaced repetition). This week we’ll be discussing how you should practice Danish, using a technique called Active Recall.

I am sure we have all tried it before; reading a book and suddenly realizing you have no clue what happened on the page you just read, forcing you to go back and re-read the page again.

It turns out that reading, or simply feeding words into your brain is a fairly passive way of ingesting material. You see the words, but you don’t necessarily store them in your brain for easy retrieval in the future.

.. but reading is exactly how a lot of us practice or review our notes. We take the notes or the words we learned in our last lesson, we passively read them again and call that a day. Sure, it is a repetition, but we can do better, and we can do so by being more active.

With active recall, we try to answer a question without aid, using only what we can recall from memory. This way, we are testing ourselves and identifying gaps in our understanding.

By continuously recalling the words or the topic from memory we strengthen the neural connections associated with the specific piece of information, and studies show that it helps information stick much better than if we merely passively recalled the words or the topic.

What could your study sessions look like using Active Recall?

Flashcards: Like we talked about last week. Flashcards are a way of testing what you can recall from memory. As such, using flashcards is a way of using active recall in your studying. You can expand your use of flashcards, by including questions (Hvilken begivenhed fejrer danskerne i februar?*), you can use series that you have to continue (stor, større, …?**), or even by using inference by putting clues to a place or a concept.

Writing: Write a text about something you care about, but minimize your use of notes, inspiration texts, or the dictionary during writing. Force yourself to write from memory, and try to rephrase sentences if what you are trying to say is too difficult for your vocabulary.

Talk to yourself: Come up with a set of questions for a topic and answer them to yourself out loud. Use full sentences. Here are 5 intermediate-difficulty questions you can try to answer:

  1. Kan du beskrive din familie?
  2. Hvad lavede du i går?
  3. Hvad skal du lave næste weekend?
  4. Hvordan laver man din yndlingsret?
  5. Fortæl om en interessant oplevelse du har haft

You can also try to teach the topic you are learning about to someone else (or teach your cat if your friends are not dying to hear about danish grammar).

Interactive tests: Find tests online and give them a try. We have found some of the official Danish exams for internationals. You can give them a shot if you are up for it here:

(Scroll down to the sections called eksempler på tidligere prøver)

Listening and Repetition: Listen to Danish podcasts, news, or songs, and then try to summarize what you heard in Danish. This exercise tests your understanding and recall of spoken language and improves listening skills. We (wink) like this podcast quite a bit.

❤️ Things we liked this week

Danish artist we are listening to

Kim Larsen, was and is a national icon. My parents listened to his songs, I grew up listening to many of his songs, Danish kids still sing his songs in school during morgensang. Here are a few of his songs we like: Køb bananer, Midt om natten, Papirsklip, Jutlandia.

Danish memes we enjoy

Fantastiske forældre, is an Instagram page dedicated to caricaturing Danes and their oh-so-unique, but then again not, lifestyle. The depictions are sometimes scarily accurate of people you can meet or have met in Denmark. Sometimes I feel a bit too old to understand all the references, but there are some good chuckles among the posts.

Idiom of the week

At spille kong gulerod, to play king-carrot. You can use this expression if someone is acting arrogant, cocky, or superior in a pretentious way. You can for example say du skal ikke komme her og spille kong gulerod if someone is being pompous around you. The phrase apparently comes from an old french, satirical opera from 1872, where vegetables from the garden take control over France. Or so I’ve heard. Don’t cite me on that.

That’s all from us for this week. We hope you have enjoyed this week’s newlsetter. You can let us know what you think by replying to this mail.

Have a great week 😊

Best regards,
Antonina & Rasmus


* Fastelavn

** Størst