I’ve decided to get serious about accomplishing something that I’ve dithered about for the past 30-odd years — learning Danish.

My cousin Henning started teaching me Danish way back in 1987, starting with numbers and the alphabet. Since then, I’ve spent some time living in Denmark, have taken in-person classes, and used Duolingo on and off for a few years (username: caelestia_2000), but I still can’t hold a real conversation with anyone.

So I’ve decided to invest in some online training with a teacher.

Now, just signing up and paying for a course isn’t going to make me any more successful than I’ve been in the past. What I really need are goals, a plan, and accountability to that plan.

This blog post and those that follow are one of several steps I’m taking to be accountable.

I was six years old the first time my parents took me to Denmark. I don’t remember much from that trip; most of my “memories” are from the photo albums. The second time, I was thirteen. It was then that I fell in love with the country of my father, and started dreaming of moving there. In my final year of high school, I announced that I wanted to go to Denmark by myself and live there for a while. My father, a strong believer in not interfering with his children’s’ lives, made the arrangements for me to stay with his brother’s family.

So off I went, age seventeen, to work on a mink farm. But back then, I was too shy and fearful of looking stupid to try and talk Danish to my relatives.

Learning to skin mink, back when I had way more hair.

Fast forward 30 years, and I’m far less shy, so time to make advances in my language learning. I have multiple reasons for becoming fluent:

  • Family: I would like to be able to have conversations directly with my older relatives who don’t speak English. There are only three of my father’s siblings still alive and it would be wonderful to talk to them directly and hear their stories of my dad. As an amateur genealogist, these stories are like gold.
  • Family: When I visited a cousin on my most recent trip to Denmark, I felt frustrated because, while she spoke English, her husband didn’t, so he was either left out of the conversation, or everything needed to be translated for him. She also gifted me with a Danish mystery novel, as encouragement to continue learning. I’ve translated the first paragraph of the prologue so far!
  • Life: Since childhood, I’ve wanted to move to Denmark. I don’t know if I will ever get that chance, but I figure with the language under my belt, my chances of getting a job might be a fraction higher.
  • Genealogy: I’ve learned the basics of reading parish and census records, but understanding notes and expanding out to non-standard records will help my research.

In my next post, I will detail specific goals and outline a weekly plan to work towards them. Stay tuned!

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