Speaking English in Denmark

In America, being bilingual is almost something exotic. Though being bilingual is becoming increasing popular in the U.S, it wasn’t until I came to Denmark that I realized almost every single Dane can speak another language and in a lot of cases, they can speak more than 2! This discovery was amazing to me as, in high school, the kid that could speak another language fluently had somewhat of a celebrity status as it was their job to teach all of us as many curse words as possible. Every day I become more and more impressed when speaking with a Dane in English; heck, they speak better English than some of my buddies back home (no offense guys). With Sweden, Norway, and Denmark all ranking in the top 5 countries in English proficiency, it’s very difficult to find a Dane that cannot speak English, especially among the younger generations. But why is it that Scandinavians speak English so well; and more importantly, why do they want to?

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Starting Early

In the states, when we are in high school (at around 14-18 years old), we select a language we would like to learn (usually Spanish), and do just enough to get through those couple hours each week. Unless you are living in a place with a big hispanic culture, like Miami, once you leave that classroom there isn’t really anything that encourages or forces you to use that Spanish. Therefore, we forget it fairly easily.

However, if you cross the Atlantic and go north (way north), you will find 7 year olds in Scandinavia learning the English language. Did I even know there were other languages when I was 7? Though most children’s movies and shows are dubbed in Danish, as Danes get older they will begin to watch more and more American shows and movies in English. This is certainly a key factor to their impressive English.

The “Cool” Factor

Before even moving to Denmark, I had a buddy from Sweden who would always tell me that many Swedes thought speaking English was “cool.” Now living in Denmark, I can see that the younger generation would agree as well. When listening to two Danes talk, and not understanding a word they are saying, my ears perk up when I hear random phrases like: “Oh my god,” or “old school.” If you listen to a conversation long enough you will most certainly hear other English words such as “cool” or “nice.”

In Scandinavia, English sometimes has somewhat of a “Cool” factor. Danes grow up watching many American TV shows and blockbuster movies and begin to use some of the words they hear; much like us Americans do as well.

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Why?

English is the 3rd most spoken language in the world, behind Chinese and Spanish, but is seen as somewhat of a common language. It is one of, if not the most, popular 2nd language people learn, as well as the official language of the United Nations. Most people throughout the world know that if they want something brought to the world stage, it is a good idea to have it in English.

With so many great ideas coming out of Scandinavia, Pine Tribe has made it a mission to bring them to that world stage. Pine Tribe has teamed up with some of the most amazing Scandinavians whom are leaders in their fields, in order to bring you ways to better yourself. Whether it’s about happiness, healthiness, or work-life balance, books such as Happy Hour is 9-5, 10 Years Younger in 10 Weeks, and Winning Without Losing are sure to help you improve your life and set you in the right direction towards becoming your best self. It’s time to discover Scandinavia.

Images from: Here, here and here


Peter Gratale

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