Obligatory Pokémon GO! post

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During the past couple of weeks, Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm – there have been so many news stories and an incredible amount of people affected by it. Sorry, but here is one more story for you…

As a long standing Pokémon fan, I was a bit disappointed but not altogether surprised to find out that my ancient Samsung Galaxy S2 was not compatible with the popular pocket monster app. Seriously, my phone is 5 years old –  I am surprised that Duolingo runs on it!

Something that I was also surprised about was when I was cycling home the other day when a small group of teenagers shouted out to me “undskyld har du set nogle pokémon?” (excuse me, have you seen any pokemon) as I passed them by. I absent mindedly replied “nej, desværre” (no unfortunately) before it suddenly dawned on me that I was spontaneously having a random conversation about Pokémon in the street with a bunch of strangers. All in Danish.

If nothing else, the app certainly gets people talking!

I’ve got to be honest, this was a situation that I never thought would ever had happened when I came to Denmark almost two years ago. But then again I guess life is full of surprises!

I’ve also found myself explaining about Pokémon GO in Danish to several other people, so it has been a fantastic ice breaker.

Have you experienced any bizarre Pokémon GO stories involving foreign languages?

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Consistency really is king

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I am delighted to report that recently I’ve been getting lots of compliments about my level of Danish from my wife’s friends and family here in Denmark.

The secret to my Danish language learning is a massive focus on consistency. That’s it. Just doing something every day with Danish, and making a habit out of it. You can also see my efforts in this from how often I update this blog – here’s a graph showing how my blog posting went from being irregular to consistently publishing something every week.

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You can also see this from how often I use Lang-8. Here is a snapshot of how often I wrote in November 2015:

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And let’s compare that to how frequently I wrote in, say, May 2016:

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(for those who are curious, you can see my Lang-8 profile here)

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The next step with Danish integration

In about 5 weeks from now, I will have been living in Denmark for 2 years. That has gone by very quickly!

I’ve been surviving here doing work mostly revolving around English teaching – or at least using the English language in some vicinity.

I will be looking for new work in August/September time, and now I am considering the option of working in a Danish environment! It will be really scary and challenging, but it is also something that I feel I need to do in order to become more integrated in my local area.

In my local library I spotted a book called “Vejen til Jobbet” by Trine Just Jørgensen (the road to the job) which has advice about CV writing and job applications. It is all in Danish of course, but hopefully it will be of use to me.

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Having fun with languages again

Earlier this year, I publicly listed my language goals which were to:

  • achieve a CEFR C1 level of Danish (by passing the Studieprøven exam)
  • achieve a CEFR B2 level of Thai
  • possibly work on “Russian, Chinese and Esperanto”

The final bullet point on that list is rather fuzzy, but I’m just directly quoting my blog post at the start of this year.

It’s July now, and so far I have achieved a certified B2 level in Danish – this is still something I am super proud of as it gives me a sense of momentum and legitimacy as an aspiring polyglot. Continue reading

Results of my Prøve i Dansk 3 mundtlig test

After receiving a C grade equivalent for my Danish reading and writing exam, I was kind of dreading the oral (mundtlig), mainly because Danish pronunciation is extremely difficult.

I spent a tremendous amount of time trying to prepare my presentation. I memorised the whole thing by rote, practising it constantly at home, at work during my breaks, and even muttering it under my breath while commuting to and from work. It was a two minute presentation, and honestly I must have practised it hundreds of times.

During my oral exam, I am sure I that delivered my two minute presentation in a very nervous manner. The second section of the exam, an absolutely unscripted conversation was also quite challenging – I had to talk about youth culture and crime, offering opinions on an ideal justice system for Denmark.

As per the standard oral exam format, I left the room while the examiner spoke to the censor and they agreed on my grade. It was the most agonising three minutes in recent memory. This grade is important because it affects my future education and employment options here in Denmark, and in turn how I can provide for my family.

Finally I was called back into the room, and to my relief, I passed the exam! Continue reading

My upcoming Prøve i Dansk 3 oral exam

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This week I have been training for the second part of my “Prøve i Dansk 3” exam.

There are two parts of the exam. The first part is a prepared 2 minute presentation with 3 minutes of follow up questions from the examinator. My presentation topic is: “Danske arbejdspladser og sundhedsordninger”, which translates to “Danish workplaces and healthcare systems”. It is quite a dry topic in my opinion, but I have spent a lot of time reading about it and trying to learn to talk my way around it.

The second part of the exam is where I have 10 seconds to look at an A4 page with pictures  about Danish society, and then briefly describe the pictures before going into a 4 minute discussion about the topic with the examinator. These pictures can be about equality in society, crime and justice systems, the education system, or even something trivial as pets. I have absolutely no way of knowing until when I am in the exam, two days from now. Continue reading

My unintentional Danish language hack

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Although I’ve been living in Denmark for almost two years, and I am married to a Dane, I must make a big effort to practise my Danish language every day. It was reaching the end of a quiet, cosy Saturday where my wife and I had been staying in doing chores and odd jobs around the house and playing with our baby daughter. I realised that I had done the lazy thing and hadn’t practised any Danish at all that day!

Except I had. I just didn’t realise it. Earlier that day my wife asked me if I could go to the shops and buy some groceries for our home, and if I could take the baby with. I decided to stop off at a charity shop and pick up some old clothes that I could use for work (I work with active and carefree small children).

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In real life, my daughter’s thin wispy hair is more than I’ll ever have on my head now

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Results of my Prøve i Dansk 3 Skriftlig test

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The results are in! I have written previously on this blog that I had a bad day on the actual test and I was also thrown off a little by the format. I was hoping for a pass – any pass – and was expecting a very low grade.

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A good luck card from one of the children in the preschool I work at

A few days ago I received an SMS on my phone, alerting me to some new digital mail inside the “e-boks” system that Denmark has. I was at work at the time, but I was allowed to hastily log on and check my mail using the painfully slow computer work computer. Slowly, the screen refreshed itself and I saw my result…

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My Prøve i Dansk 3 Skriftlig experience

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The good news is that I found the exam centre and got there early (using Danish GPS on my phone and following directions from an artificial Danish voice!). I arrived so early that I even went to a local bakery and ordered a coffee an pastry, all in Danish without any problems at all. It felt great!

The bad news is that I found out the hard way that a photo travelcard that contains the same address as my public health insurance card is not valid. I had to hastily speak to the examiners and arrange my passport delivered. This was all done in nervous, broken Danish. But at least I could communicate in my target language! The protip that I have for anyone taking this exam is: always bring your passport.

The actual test was a lot harder than I thought. Continue reading