Report on Language Study or Sprogcafè in Danish Language

Sprogcafé or Language Study in Danish is every Thursday in Simon Peters Hus at Islandsvej 4 in Kolding. It is an offer to all those who need help in their acquisition of both the written and spoken Danish language. Danish is one of the keys to foreigners’ integration in their new country- Denmark. This free language study is therefore an offer to immigrants, foreign students, guest workers and refugees. It is an offer by the Kolding Deanery, which consists of 31 local churches in town through its Cross-cultural Ministry as expression of hospitality to strangers.

Every Thursday there are about 20 to 30 students who join in the Danish language lessons. And there are 12 to 14 volunteers who teach, most of them are real teachers who have retired from their salaried teaching job. Most are Danes who derive great joy from sharing and helping others. Two others from others from Syria and Argentina, who have managed to learn Danish in a period of years of their stay, join us also in the team of our volunteer teachers.

On this particular day, February 7, there were 24 students who came, representing 17 countries and 5 faiths or religions or no faith: Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Jehovah Witness and Atheism.

Danish Language Study on February 7:
The Danish lessons for students focused on the United Nations and the UN sponsored event, World Interfaith Harmony Week. The teaching material includes:
a. Building up their Danish vocabulary by learning new terms related to WIHW inception and adoption; like learning Danish words for terms like: peace, harmony, friendship, cooperation, compassion, alliance, solidarity, etc. and enable them to use these words in their own sentences.
b. Learning Danish grammar in the simple conjugations of nouns and verbs and adjectives, based on some sentences about the historical start of UN.
c. A lesson on the history of the United Nations as a fellowship of nations for a particular purpose with a historical text to read with questions to find out how much a student comprehends from the reading.
d. A reading exercise of a translated English text into Danish about information on World InterFaith Harmony Week, giving the student possibility to make corrections of the given text in the Danish language and comprehension of WIFHW observance.

Learning Danish on this particular day started with 20 minutes coffee and tea, cake and fruits, informal talk around tables, then coming together as a whole group in singing songs in Danish language with Kirsten Nørgaard who played the piano. Elizabeth also introduced a Filipino song of friendship, translated into Danish, which we all could sing and dance.

Then each one had the chance to say introductory words about themselves, giving their name, country of origin and say in few Danish sentences: What I miss about my country and what I wish or dream for my home country.

Their responses were tallied/recorded in the computer and reflected on the screen for all to see being written down as common Danish expressions. (Jens Fischer-Nielsen, one of our teachers, was very good at doing it) After the introductory presentation of students and teacher volunteers, they were divided into small groups: one teacher to one student or one teacher to 2 or 3 or 4 students, depending on our assessment on the student’s level of Danish language acquisition. Every student and teacher received the teaching materials as mentioned earlier.

Sprogcafe ends at 6 in the afternoon. However, there are those who stay a bit longer, eager to share some special concerns:
• a possible need to be helped in finalizing a job application
• or help to correct a CV or Curriculum Vitæ formulation in Danish
• help to fully understand a Danish document from the municipal office
• or to share good news about the birth of a child, or a coming birthday event
• or sharing sorrow over the death of a loved one
• or worries over the family members - not heard for quite a time in one’s own war-torn country.
• Or possible help in finding a contact Danish family for one’s integration process

Sprogcafe is not only a language study session. In meeting regularly every Thursday, amount of friendship is built up between the teacher volunteers and students. There is openness and sharing of something precious and important. Openness happens when confidence is built up in an atmosphere of friendship. Sprogcafe/Learning Danish is a regular network of support to all who need it no matter what religious affiliation they belong or ideology they profess.

And on this particular day, February 7, Sprogcafé went global by taking up a lesson on the United Nations and the World Inter-Faith Harmony Week. The material could still be used after February 7. The week gave us also a challenge to build up more creative teaching materials on the subject for the following year.

Documents to support the event:
• Information on Sprogcafé, available at libraries, churches and other public places
• video on Sprogcafe made by Mette Steel from Asylum Cooperation of Haderslev Diocese:
• Teaching materials on United Nations and World InterFaith Harmony Week as prepared lesson for the students.
• Power point presentation of photos of Sprogcafé
• More photos on Facebook: Sprog-cafe (where more updates and photos are made available week after week )

Report submitted by: Elizabeth Padillo Olesen
cc: Pastor Michael Markussen
Lilly Biswas: Chairwoman of the Cross-cultural Ministry Committee of Kolding Deanery

Images for this event