What to do if you get stuck in your Language Learning Progress?

Simple Danish Newsletter #5

Hi friends,

We hope you are having a great week. This week we are still in the process of moving, so almost all of our time is spent on painting, sanding, packing and cleaning. Nevertheless, today is Sunday and so it is time for another installment of the Simple Danish Newsletter 😊

This week we are sharing our thoughts on what to do if you feel stuck learning Danish.

Hitting a wall in your Danish journey, or any skill pursuit, is common. At first, it’s all rapid gains and excitement, fueling a virtuous cycle of progress and practice.

But soon, the complexity spikes – grammar, syntax, pronunciation. You’re slogging through Danish films, you changed your phone language to Danish, you are grasping at straws, feeling like you’re backsliding or stalling. Sound familiar? It’s not just you.

Here’s the deal: We’ve been there too. Here are a few steps you can take to get Continue your progress! And remember, We’re not just learning Danish; we’re learning how to learn. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

7 steps to get out of a plateau

1. Assess yourself and Re-evaluate your goals:

Skill Level Check-In: It’s crucial to periodically assess where you stand. Try to rank your comprehension skills (listening and reading) and your creation skills (talking and writing). Where do you struggle most? Identifying these can help focus your efforts.

Redefining your Goals: Perhaps your initial goal was general fluency. It might be time to get more specific. Think about what specifically you want to get better at. This could be conversational fluency, business communication or dinner table small talk. Specific goals can lead to more targeted and effective learning strategies.

2. Change up how you are learning Danish:

Embrace Structured Chaos: Sure, structured classes are great, but don’t underestimate the power of a little chaos. Mix up your learning with unconventional methods. Maybe it’s Danish stand-up comedy, cooking shows, or YouTube vlogs. The key is varied, unpredictable content.

Self-Directed Learning: Take control. Apps and online resources are great, but remember, they’re tools, not crutches. Use them to supplement your learning, not define it.

3. Optimize your Practice and Exposure:

Real-world Practice: find a language partner. It could be a native Danish speaker learning your language. The trade-off is mutually beneficial and offers authentic practice.

Passive Learning: Don’t just watch a Danish movie; watch it with Danish subtitles. Listen to Danish music and follow along with the lyrics. This dual exposure aids comprehension.

Assess your own practice: are you studying effectively? Are you studying enough? You can check out our guides on spaced repetition and active recall.

Time Blocking: Like writing a book or exercising, language learning thrives on routine. Carve out dedicated time slots in your day for Danish.

4. Get feedback:

Seek Constructive Criticism: Regularly check in with someone who can provide honest feedback. This might be a friend, a tutor or a language exchange partner.

Community Learning: Online forums and language learning groups can be goldmines for feedback. Post recordings of your speech and ask for constructive criticism. One such forum could be the Reddit community r/LearnDanish.

5. Remember why you are learning Danish:

Remember Your ‘Why’: Reconnect with why you started learning Danish. Was it for travel? Family? Work? Keeping this in mind can reignite your passion.

Set Micro-goals: Achieving small, frequent goals can boost your morale. Think daily or weekly targets, like learning 10 new words a day or having a 5-minute conversation in Danish.

6. Integrate Danish into your Lifestyle:

Daily Danish Doses: Incorporate Danish into your daily life (like you are doing by reading this newsletter). Label items around your house in Danish, think in Danish as you perform daily tasks, or start a diary in Danish.

Cultural Immersion: Cook a Danish meal, participate in Danish festivities (even if it’s virtually), or join a Danish cultural group. Language is culture, after all.

7. Challenges and Advanced Learning:

Target Weak Spots: If pronunciation is your Achilles heel, focus on that. If it’s grammar, tackle it head-on with specific exercises.

Raise the Bar: Challenge yourself with advanced materials. Read Danish newspapers, watch unscripted shows, or try understanding Danish podcasts on complex topics.

Remember, plateaus are a natural part of the learning process. They’re not a sign to stop, but a signal to change gears. Happy learning, and here’s to breaking out of that rut!

❤️ Things we liked this week

Video we’re rewatching: Kamelåså

Danish pronunciation is difficult. Perhaps, so much so that even Danes have no idea What we are actually saying to each other. Check out this utterly hilarious sketch from Norwegian NRK on the difficulties of the Danish language. This is probably the video I have shared the most with international colleagues and friends learning Danish.

Our favorite (free) online Danish dictionary

Ordnet is our go to source for looking up phrases, definitions. It is published by Det Danske sprog- og litteraturselskab, a publicly funded, non profit organisation.

Idiom of the week: at stå med håret i postkassen

To stand with your hair in the mailbox, means to be stuck in an uncomfortable situation where you are defenseless or powerless to do much about it. It could be because someone left you in that situation either by tricking you, or disappointing you. Funnily enough you can also use the phrase with a beard or braids (skægget / fletningerne i postkassen). Here are some examples:

  • De unge står tit med håret i postkassen fordi de ikke har nogen forsikring.
  • Jane stod med håret i postkassen efter skilsmissen fordi hendes mand tog det hele.

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

Have a great week 😊

Best regards,
Antonina & Rasmus