You and your colleague are standing by the coffee machine. She plucks up the courage to say ”hvo’dan gå det?” (“How are you doing?”) in broken Danish…and you immediately switch to English to make it easier for her (and for yourself).

But there are several good reasons why you should instead take a deep breath and reply (slowly) in Danish: 

  • You train your ear for language usage when you hear Danish spoken in a range of different ways.
  • You provide your colleague with the encouragement she needs to speak Danish in other circumstances.
  • You become more aware of your own use of language when you have to find a way of expressing yourself more simply – and who would not, in all honesty, benefit from expressing themselves more simply from time to time?

As language instructors at MASTER-LING, we often find that our course participants do not get the opportunity to practise their Danish because Danes switch to English when they encounter someone who is struggling to express themselves in the Danish language.

This is, of course, done with the best of intentions, but in the long run it is clearly better for both you and your colleague if you speak Danish together (even if you just start with the usual polite phrases).

So please speak Danish, won’t you?

Are you considering learning a new language? Or perhaps refreshing your skills in a language that you learned at school or college? Then it’s simply a matter of getting started, because there are at least five good reasons for throwing yourself into learning a new language:

1. Your brain grows
Yes, it is true! Your brain really does grow while you are learning a language. This is particularly true for the area of the brain associated with memory and orientation skills, which grows as you learn a new language, according to the Danish scientific website Language learning also keeps the brain in good shape.

2. You expand your career opportunities
It is always beneficial to acquire new skills, and when you learn a new language, not only do you give yourself the opportunity to work with a completely new language (in a completely new country?), but also to work with people speaking that language, whether they are colleagues, clients, business partners or others. In a global labour market it is, quite simply, a great advantage to be able to communicate in a variety of different languages.

3. You acquire a deeper understanding of another culture
When you learn a language, you also learn about the culture from which the language springs. This makes it easier for you to understand people who have the language as their native tongue. It also makes it easier for you to navigate your way round a new culture and avoid cultural clashes.

4. You meet new people
Whether you choose to learn a new language by means of language tuition, travel or a language café, you will meet new people you would not have met otherwise. Who knows - perhaps your next language teacher or travel companion will turn out to be a fabulous and fascinating person?

5. A whole new world opens up for you
While you are learning, you will uncover linguistic associations that begin to make sense to you. And perhaps you will hear a song whose meaning you suddenly understand. You may discover your favourite new TV series in a language you previously didn’t understand at all. There are many possibilities, for it is, in many ways, a whole new world that will open up for you.

By Sanne Rossen, M.A., Language instructor at MASTER-LING