Why you should listen to podcasts to level up your Danish

Simple Danish Newsletter #12

Hi friends,

Once upon a time, Danes decided not to pronounce words the same way they write them, which has frustrated every Danish-learner, and amused even more Swedish speakers ever since.

We hope all is well with you guys. This week, we’re sharing an article from our blog about why we think podcasts are one of the best ways to improve your Danish.

As you know; Learning Danish is hard. And Danish pronunciation, especially, is a difficult skill to master.

That’s why we think listening to a lot of Danish, is a crucial part of mastering Danish pronunciation.

It is going to help you become more familiar with the sounds in the danish language, and it is going to help you in the real world, when you inevitably encounter Danish in non-textbook situations.

It is also the first step on the way to mastering your own pronunciation of Danish words. After all, pronouncing words correctly is easier if you have listened to them a million times before.

Why are podcasts better than other audio sources?

We think the audio source doesn’t really matter when it comes to learning Danish. It could be watching movies with subtitles, or listening to radio, podcasts, music or anything else really. However, we think there are a few things that make podcasts uniquely great (and under certain circumstances WAY better than any other audio source) as material for learning Danish.

1) Podcasts are bite-sized.

Unlike movies, podcasts are much more palatable and suited for a busy life. We still recommend watching movies in Danish, if you find something that piques your interest. However, for your everyday, more focused practice session or daily commute, podcasts are much easier to consume (and the easier it is for you to use, the more likely you are to actually listen to them). Listening to the radio can achieve some of the same things, however radio falls short of podcasts on a lot of the other parameters.

2) Podcasts reflect natural conversations.

If you listen to radio, you will often hear a very unnatural, organized language compared to how people talk in real life. In real life, nobody says “Today at 17, an accident occured on highway E45 and traffic is blocked in both directions”. On top of that, radio shows or news on the radio are often followed by English music and high-pitched advertisements. Not exactly a great learning environment…

Podcasts come much closer to mimicking real life language and situations. What you hear on radio is often a spoken-written language, whereas podcasts (interview based in particular) are often natural spoken language. In addition, podcasts are much more “clean” and with fewer interruptions and distractions compared to radio.

Podcasts often have a single host and maybe varying guests. Having a single host is great, because it allows you to become familiar with the voice and tonality of a single person, which means you will understand more and more of what they say over time. If you listen to a show with varying guests, being familiar with the voice of the host can also help keep you “on-track” for the whole conversation. So even if you miss some words that the guests use, you still might understand where the conversation is going by understanding the host’s replies.

3) Podcasts are topic focused.

This means that you can browse podcasts by interest. Interested in economy and real estate? There’s a podcast for that. Interested in Brazilian jazz? There’s a podcast for that. The same goes for everything from fashion, psychology, military leadership, knitting, and almost everything else. The quality might not always be 100%, but still there are a lot of gems out there. Try picking a topic that already interests you and search around and see if you can find a Danish podcast on that topic.

4) Podcasts can have transcripts.

This is the secret weapon to getting the most bang for your buck out of podcasts. Of course, most podcasts don’t actually publish a transcript, but if they do – you have found your golden ticket. Having a transcript lets you combine the way a word is pronounced with how it is spelled. The same thing goes for watching Danish movies with Danish subtitles. If you don’t understand a word that is used on the podcast, you can find it and look it up from the transcript.

This of course requires a more deliberate way of learning, and it is not as passive as just listening, but it can really help speed up your learning progress by helping you expand your vocabulary, and improve your pronunciation at the same time.

If you want, you can check our list of recommended podcasts here.

❤️ Our Favourite things

Idiom of the week: Så er den ged barberet

Litterally translating to; then the goat is shaved. Means that something is done or solved. You can use it if you got an annoying task out of the way, either by avoiding the task entirely (and then ironically using så er den ged barberet to humorously say that it was easy), or by actually finishing it.

Example 1: Jeg skal lige færdiggøre den sidste del af præsentationen, og så er den ged barberet.

Example 2: FCK scorede et hurtigt mål mod Brøndby, og så var den ged barberet.

Danish Cake you might not know: Lagkage

I think most can agree that Danes have got the pastries nailed down. However, when it comes to cakes, a lot of people who move here are shocked at how limited the selection of actual cakes is, compared to other countries. However, a staple at most Danish birthday parties is the lagkage (meaning layered cake).It is made up of layers of a light sponge cake (usually vanilla), alternating with generous spreads of cream, jam and/or fruit fillings. The cake is often topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit, and sometimes chocolate or jelly.

That’s all we have for you for now. We hope you liked it and as always, feel free to reach out with feedback, comments or suggestions by replying to this email.

Have a great week 😊

Best regards,

Antonina & Rasmus