Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sometimes you wonder...

I felt rather bad for our Danish teacher today. It was not a good day for many of the kids in class. Some are dragging themselves to school even though they are ill (Ali was so sick he couldn't put two words together in Danish or English to save his life and even if he could, he lost his voice), others don't show up for days and then are completely lost. My teacher, Helle, had the following conversation with one of these constant no-shows.

Helle (in Danish): Write down what you will talk about, two subjects and three books.
Girl (in English): What is this for?
Helle: Your test.
Girl: What?
Helle: Your test.
Girl: What test?
Helle: Your Danish test.
Girl: Can I talk about anything?
Helle: Yes, as long as it is in Danish.
Girl: Danish?
Helle: Yes, Danish.
Girl: I can't talk in English??
Helle: No, this is a Danish class, you have to talk in Danish.
Girl: How am I supposed to do this, I don't know Danish!

Helle has the patience of a saint, but I think she'll be tossing back a few drinks this evening.

There was also a long conversation with one of the male not-often-comers where we were trying to figure out how he can drive a car but have no driving license. Turns out he HAS a drivers license, but because he's been gone so much he doesn't know any of the words for transportation, including the most important: kører = to drive. You also use this verb when you ride a bus or a train and "drivers license" in Danish is kørerkart (only probably spelled differently, I don't have my book to check). Makes perfect sense: kører/driving, kart/card. But he was very insistent, he didn't have that, he didn't need one because he's Polish.


Even in English it took some time, he thought Helle was asking if he had a CPR card (identity card). Which in Danish is CPR-kart.

Meanwhile, the kids in the back of the class were having a lively discussion about the huge party they went to over the weekend and how drunk they got, so they didn't do the handout we were given at the start of class and were completely lost when we had to read out the answers.

It's frustrating, this language is hard enough to learn as it is, I really don't need the distractions and people who don't bother to come to class to slow us all down. They'll be weeded out in two weeks when they fail the test, but it's damn annoying right now.


  1. Anonymous12:08 PM

    Probably you'll beat me black and blue for this, but the Danish word for card is not kart but kort *runaway*

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  3. @ the writer: no wait come back!!! kart... kort.... bloody hell. My spell check does not recognize Danish... and frankly, neither do I!

    @cantcopenhagen: what's nice is that it's instant friends and you all are joined together in shared misery, the down side is that those who don't have to be there (who the HELL takes Danish for fun?? Oh wait, I did that...) often don't realize that some of us really do need to learn it (at least to understand enough to know if you are being told off by the drunk guy at the train station... It's really embarrassing if you smile at him and nod after he's called you a herpes infected whore...).

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  5. This makes me glad that my company sent me to a private tutor for one-on-one lessons. No distractions and I could learn at my own pace.

    But even after lessons, I found that I learned more on my own. At work my colleagues would speak to me in Danish and I'd answer back in half Danish, half English. We'd call it Danglish. I still can't write Danish, but I can understand it and read it and speak it when I am not embarrassed to.

    Good luck in your lessons!

  6. Its just the element of being forced into it i think. If it was fully voluntary and adequately priced, then you get people that really want to learn coming in for the lessons.

  7. ok, gotta ask....are you the only grown up in this class!? :o)


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