Copenhagencast blog

Persistence & funLearning

Posted by Louise Sand Wed, April 01, 2015 19:39:11

Most language methods tell you they have everything you need to succeed. I don't believe this. As a language learner I have tried all the methods offered in the market, and I have found that many of them are great. But not one of them covers all my learning needs. Having learned 6 languages to fluency I know that language learning is complex and personal. We all need to find our own personal ‘spice'.

I have worked as a language teacher in a class room setting and in a one-on-one business approach. Now I teach via my podcast. No matter how I teach language, the best thing I can do for my students, is to teach from a student's own point of view. I am still a language learner. And I keep learning new things about how to learn.

So what do I believe in? I guess you can sum up my method to this: Learning has to be fun. And a learner has to be persistent. But how can you combine fun with persistence?

In my world, ‘persistence' and ‘fun' are not opposites. They are two pages in the same book.

Persistence is not about doing the same thing all the time. Persistence is about working towards the same goal (fluency) all the time. And off course you get smarter along the way. So, what works for you today, may not work for you tomorrow. I can choose a method and follow it. But I need to add a little extra 'spice', if I want to stay motivated. Maybe today my spice is enjoying the sound of a word I have just heard. And tomorrow my spice may be finding video clips on youtube with people baking cakes in my target language. (And I am certain to learn a lot both searching for it and looking at it!) Or perhaps my 'spice' is doing research about a fascinating industry in my target language. And once I find my spice, I am glued to my language learning again. Voilá - persistence and fun!

In Copenhagencast I want to create a learning experience for my listeners that will allow them to find their own learning style. I hope to inspire you to learn Danish with persistence and having fun during each precious moment dedicated to language learning. Learning a foreign language is a luxury. It is good for your brain (it keeps the little grey cells fit and strong). And it gives you the most wonderful sense of accomplishment once you allow yourself to celebrate each little success along the way.

Enjoy your learning.

Get started and don't quitLearning

Posted by Louise Sand Fri, October 24, 2014 16:38:43

Here's an advice: Get started! No reason to wait for class to begin. In fact, you don't even need a teacher. What you really need is you. Plus a few guidelines and a whole lot of persistence! So the great secret behind successful language learning is pretty simple, and it goes like this: Get started and don't quit. Here's what I mean:

"Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just boring. Persistence is having the same goal over and over."

Marketing guru Seth Godin said this. And I'll be surprised if he wasn't talking about learning Danish. My advice to you is to do something every day in order to learn Danish. And don't make it a punishment. It should be fun. For instance if you like watching football make sure to watch with Danish speakers commenting thegame. At you can listen to Danish radio. You can turn it on when you are are doing less demaning work at you computer or when you play computer games, if you do that. Long term passive input works. You wont understand much in the beginning. But the brain stores it somewhere and eventually the strange noises turn into words. That's how it works for children who are learning their first language!

But off course, you are not a child. And you have many competencies that a child doest not have. So you can use LOTS of different learning strategies at the same time. And it's good to experiment. Personally I am always inventing new study methods. Otherwise I get bored. And if I get bored, I stop studying. So the point is to enjoy learning your target language. Turn it into a game. A game you win every day, every time you study, listen or even think about Danish.

Your key to success: SRS
I am going to suggest one particular activity, that is VERY useful for learing, storing and remembering what you learn. If you want to OWN it, then this is a good way: SRS is short for Spaced Repetition Systems. You can increase your brains capacity for storing vocabulary, sentences etc. by several 100% using SRS.This has been scientifically proved. Here is a short video that explains how and why.


Posted by Louise Sand Fri, October 24, 2014 16:37:44

It’s okay to study grammar. Especially if you enjoy it. If not, then forget about it. As long as you do your flash card repetitions and listen A LOT, you will be fine. If you do love grammar however, then be careful not to overdo it. Remember, the Danish language is spoken by people in flesh and blood, not by computers. Many of the things we Danes say all the time are impossible to explain even to the best grammarian. And furthermore if you become so good at grammar that you only ever spak 100% correct Danish sentences, then… I am sorry to tell you this, but I have to be honest … you will sound like a joke. And you will probably speak very slowly too. With that said, it doesn’t hurt to learn the most basic rules for singular and plural, past and present constructions. It can speed your learning process and help you speak more correctly so people will take you seriously. But if you hate grammer, then just rely on your ear and listen, listen, listen…

Listen before you readLearning

Posted by Louise Sand Fri, October 24, 2014 16:37:14

Danish is not written like it all! So make sure to listen to the podcast episodes BEFORE you read the Pdf lesson notes. The listening part is so important, when you learn Danish, and if you can master that bit, you are well on your way. Learners often tell me, they have a hard time with pronunciation. This is because they try to pronounce Danish as it is written...and this never works. When I have them reverse the order, it helps tremendously. So do your self a favour and listen FIRST.

And yes, you need to listen to more than just my podcast in order to really learn Danish. Some listeners ask me: How should I listen to Danish? This is not the question. (Quoting Hamlet)…the question is: How MUCH should you listen? And the answer is A LOT! So anything Danish that you can stand listening to for at least 10.000 hours, well anything like that will be fine. You will find live Danish radio programs at It doesn't matter if you listen to football games, radio news, talk shows, music or audio books about how to grow vegetables in your garden. As long as you keep listening. And listen FIRST.

Flash cardsLearning

Posted by Louise Sand Fri, October 24, 2014 16:34:04

You can design any activity for learning Danish. Sign up for yoga classes if the instructor speaks Danish. Study vocabulary by writing it on your shower curtain. Practice cooking Danish meals while watching Danish TV chefs. It does not matter. As long as you do something and keep doing more. But there is one activity I strongly recommend. One activity to support all the other activities. One activity is king of all the other activities. In fact, without this king, any attemt at learning Danish is likely to have a poor outcome. This activity is flash cards. You need to do flash cards every day if you want to speak Danish fast and fluent. It is just like training your abs. If you want a flat stomach, get out of that bed every morning and do your sit ups. It is painful and boring. But it becomes easier the more you do it. And the same goes for flash cards. Flash cards is a method for studying while increasing your memory. The method was invented by Sebastian Leitner. It is extremely simple. And extremely efficient. For every fact (word, sentence, expession, slang, vocabulary item etc.) you want to learn, you create a piece of paper with the fact on one side (in Danish) and the translation on the other side. Now, you need to repeat each card again and again until you never forget the facts. Lots of excellent software is available to do the job for you if you are not so good with a pair of scissors or if you just do not want to store tons of small pieces of paper. The software solution has another advantage. It spaces your repetitions according to how well you have learned a fact. There are lots of great software solutions for this. Some are cheap and some are for free. I recommend you try out different ones. Just google 'flash cards' and choose from the large selection of services. If you use iPhone, off course, you should get yourself a nice flash card app allowing you to create and study your own flash cards.

95% give up - be the other 5%Learning

Posted by Louise Sand Fri, October 24, 2014 16:32:08

95% give up before mastering the foreign language they study. You can put yourself among the 5% who succeed. If you understand how your brain works. Your brain wants pleasure. It tells you to have fun. So why not turn learning a language into fun. Why not become addicted? Flash cards is a fast and efficient way to become addicted to learning Danish and becoming fluent.

Only 5 % of those, who start the study of a second language, end up learning it, according to James J. Asher, Ph.D. at San Jose State University. He thinks this has to do with the old fashioned methods employed at most schools. I agree with him. When I tell people, that with our advanced understanding of the brain, you can learn Danish fast and become fluent by carrying out activities you enjoy, they tell me:”I find that hard to believe.” Go ahead and explore everything I have posted for you on this page, and start learning Danish right.

Facebook for language nerdsLearning

Posted by Louise Sand Fri, October 24, 2014 16:30:49

If you don't have a Danish online pen pal, it's time to get one. Go to and seek out your own language friend. It's completely free. And it's a give and take. So you will be teaching your own language too.