Today’s post comes to us from Language Wrangler Reader, Corin Wright
Being a naïve seventeen year old I thought it would be possible to go to Denmark and work without being able to speak any or very little Danish. Even though English is an official language in Denmark, my aspirations of working in Denmark almost completely shut down because I knew practically no Danish.
Prior to arriving in Denmark I had studied a Danish CD with tourist phrases on it, and I learned those phrases pretty well. But those 50 phrases would not set me up for life in another country.
Learning Danish From Home With Teach Yourself Complete Danish
I returned to the UK being fluent in two sentences: “jeg taler ikke Dansk” (I don’t speak Danish) and “Jeg forstår ikke” (I don’t understand). But when I returned home my desire and interest in the language itself had not died.
I decided I would purchase Teach Yourself Complete Danish to see how far I could get with this course.
I was partially drawn to this product because of the “From beginner to Level 4” promise on the side of the book (level 4 being equal to B2 in the common framework). Now, I realize many such promises are stereotypical of companies in order to convince you to buy their product, but the Teach Yourself Danish course certainly has many good points and a few bad points which ought to be highlighted.
The book has 18 units. Each of which consist of audio content with transcripts, a small section on grammar, and activities to test yourself on.
Since grammar seems to be a much disputed part of language learning, I think the way in which the book taught me grammar wasn’t too much for me to handle. As the units went on, the grammatical lessons focused on slightly more advanced “topics” of grammar so I didn’t feel like I was being thrown in the deep end at all.
Each unit’s exercises are also usually related to the grammatical topic covered which for those people who like these sort of exercises is certainly an advantage.
Exercises also do refer back to grammatical points already covered in the book too, which helps you to remember what you’ve already learned.
The new vocab is laid out very basically with the words on one side and their translations on the other, all though this is probably preferable to having a direct translation as you know exactly which words mean what.
I’d say the course covers a good variety of topics and vocabulary words to help you achieve a solid base for learning Danish.
You won’t be discussing philosophy or politics (even though the last unit touches on that) but all the “must-knows” will be written into your brain just because of the increasing frequency they appear as you work through the units.
For learning material the dialogues can be rather interesting and sometimes even amusing! The whole book tells a story which progresses through the different units and dialogues. Obviously after reviewing the same dialogue multiple times it may start to get a bit tedious, but in comparison to a lot of other language learning resources, it certainly kept me interested.
The book is not quite balanced enough in terms of content. It would make more sense to have additional audio content, since listening is so important.
Most of the dialogues have an audio track, but there are some passages that provide you with a lot of new vocab and don’t have a corresponding audio track. This can be somewhat unhelpful when trying to establish how certain new vocabulary is supposed to be pronounced and how it sounds when spoken by natives.
The pacing of the speakers in the recordings is fairly decent. They do speed up as the units go on but, they don’t speed up enough. Danish as a language, is generally spoken very fast and I think the program would have be better if the pacing of the speakers were to be spoken at full speed.
The recordings also are only partly the Danish dialogues themselves, there’s a lot of time where nothing is being said at all and a lot of time when English is being spoken. This doesn’t help in terms of mp3 compatibility as one must either edit the dialogues on a computer (which takes a long time) so that only the Danish is being heard or continually rewind and fast-forward to the dialogue itself in order to practice listening which isn’t hugely convenient.
After Completing The Course
What was my ability after I finished the course? Well if we’re talking about a “level” here I was certainly not B2 or level 4, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be.
My reading level was certainly far superior to my listening, writing and speaking level. Although, I felt I had a good ear for the language and could basically pronounce everything I could read to an acceptable degree. In terms of price (£29.99), listening content aside I would certainly say it’s value for money.
It’s packed with useful and interesting vocabulary and I think it’s enough to get you off to a good start learning Danish. If I were to give Teach Yourself Complete Danish some sort of rating as beginners material, I’d give Teach Yourself Complete Danish a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Photo by: Stefan Klaas