First of all: Welcome to Denmark! I’m sure it’s a heck of an experience discovering this new country and getting to know the ups and downs and the ins and outs of the people here and the culture.
I’m sure it’s been a great help that the level of English of the average Dane is high, so you’ve been able to get started with your new life from the get-go.
But I’m equally sure that you’ve discovered as well that not knowing Danish can cause inconvenience and frustration. When you don’t speak the local language, there’ll inevitably be situations where you just stand there puzzled, not able to figure out what’s being said and what’s going on. Being the only one who doesn’t speak Danish can also lead you to feel left out of the conversation when you’re not able to participate actively.
So! As much as being able to manage in English in Denmark is an advantage, as important it is to at least learn a little Danish so you can join the conversation and play a more active role in the social circles you are in, and when you start work. Knowing Danish will help you feel like you’re a part of this country, it will help you feel more integrated.
Tips for Danish lunch talk
Here’s a few practical and commonly used sentences you can practise for when you land your dream job to speak a more active Danish over lunch with your new colleagues:
Finding a Seat
(You see some colleagues sitting at a table and want to join them – you ask:)
Må jeg sætte mig her (hos jer)? (Can I sit down here (with you (plural))?
Ja, selvfølgelig! Bare sæt dig! (Yes, of course! Please have a seat!)
Øøøh, jeg tror faktisk at Andreas sidder der. Men du kan sidde her! (Uumm, I actually think that Andreas is sitting there. But you can sit here!)
Nå, hva’ så? Hvordan går det (ellers)? (So, what’s up? How is everything?)
Har du travlt? (Are you busy?)
Det går fint / godt / okay / ikke så godt. (I’m doing fine / well / okay / not so well)
Jeg er ved at [+ verb in infinitive] (I am -ing….) Eg. “Jeg er ved at lave årsregnskab.” / “Jeg er ved at skrive en rapport.” / “Jeg er ved at bygge et skur”) (I’m doing the annual accounts. / I’m working on a report. / I’m building a shed.)
Hvad med dig? (What about you?)
Hvordan går det med…? (How is it going with…?)
Hvordan gik det med…? (How did it go with…?)
When The Lunch Break Is Over
Nå, men arbejdet kalder. (Well, work is calling) = I have to get back to work.
Tak for snakken. (Thanks for the talk/chat).
Selv tak. (You too!)
God arbejdslyst! (“Have a good work day” or “Enjoy the work”)
I lige måde! (Likewise! You too!)
So! I hope you liked these sentences! Practice them and try them out next time you have lunch with your Danish friends or colleagues.
And remember; It’s totally okay that you run out of words and need to switch to English at some point. The important thing is to keep trying, to keep practicing. Every time you practice you learn a new word or a new way to structure a sentence – which is how you slowly build up your vocabulary and become fluent.
And also… be patient with yourself and trust the process! Rome wasn’t built in one day! Just think about how many years it took to learn your mother tongue.
If you’d like more tips for a better Danish, sign up for my 7 emails series where I teach 7 of the most typical Danish mistakes I hear as a Danish teacher – and you learn how you can avoid making these mistakes ever again. The result? In two weeks from now, your Danish will be improved, and you’ll be speaking a more correct Danish – so you can be understood by the Danes!
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WHO AM I?
Hi! I’m Sigga Nordgaard Hansen. For the last 11 years, I’ve been helping foreigners from all over the world speak a more active and confident Danish. In 2014 I founded my own company, Lingua Danica, from where I offer one-to-one Danish courses (online or in-person in the CPH area), online tiny group courses, workshops and other training. I also offer plenty offer plenty of free Danish tips on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.