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With foreign languages being such a right brain activity and mathematics being such a left brain activity, it is actually very challenging to do arithmetic in Danish.

The number order is switched round, so instead of saying “thirty six” you’d say “six and thirty”. This is still something that I problems with in Danish, particularly when listening to people reading out telephone numbers. I sometimes even have problems saying my own telephone number in Danish, but by now I’ve managed to learn it by rote.

A special mention goes to Danish mathematical symbols. The multiplication symbol is not what it was when I went to school in the UK. We used an x as in “3 x 2 = 6”. In Danish, you use a dot. So the small equation above becomes “3•2=6”. Sometimes, a division symbol can be a semi colon “:”, which I would associate with expressing a ratio.

This misleading level of familiarity and having to unlearn things which by now seem intuitive is actually an accurate reflection of my general struggle with Danish.

In my maths class, we are also encouraged to speak out calculations out loud and work with a partner. Maths was never really my strongest subject in school, but learning it through Danish slows me down a lot!

I just have to take a deep breath and remember that this is helping to keep my brain active and healthy. Even if it feels like there are acute headaches when wracking my brain over a particularly unsavoury set of maths questions.

 

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