This story is not a compilation of articles, books, motivation trainings or learning foreign languages methodologies. This is a description of my own personal practical experience. Of course, if you are interest in all those topics you may easily find all needed information. I tried to write this article in the form of terms first for reading easiness and to put a stress on main points.
In 2015 I joined outsource IT company as mobile developer. The company had 3 offices those time: Saint-Petersburg Russia, Aarhus Denmark and headquarters and main office in Copenhagen Denmark. I joined Saint-Petersburg team, where we had only developers staff while all managers, sales and customers were located in Denmark. We had a lot of communication with Danish colleagues every day in English, which is cross-team language. But despite on that fact, there were a lot of communication on Danish language. Of course, people helped each-other in Danish-English-Russian communication, but I had a feeling that some information is just becoming lost. And I did not want to have any helper to spend a time with Danish-to-English communication.
Before 2015 the only thing that I knew about Denmark is "the capital of Denmark is Copenhagen".
Which goals did I have starting learning Danish
- As many people, "Why just not to learn new foreign language"
- Reading docs, books and email without additional translation step
- Wanted to understand what Danes are talking about when we had meetings or team buildings
- Avoiding communication gaps and time waisting when information is coming
Which obstacles did I meet
The biggest challenge was that nobody believed that it is possible to learn Danish from zero just to have a communication with colleagues. To be honest, we have had Danish language lessons, but I was one of 2 people (from about 25) who reached any sensible result. All the others just gave up. That is what I've heard from my colleagues at the beginning:
- This is hard and takes a lot of time
- You will have no results
- Why do you need this. Everybody speaks english, that's enough!
- Better invest your resources in English learning
As in many other areas, motivation is very important. I can split my motivation into several points:
- Even people that I don't like too much talk Danish and have more "informal benefits" in the company
- Those, who speak Danish are usual people. If they do it, then I can do it as well!
- Reaching all goals that I mentioned in the beginning of the story
- Respect from customers and other colleagues
- Give motivation to other colleagues on my own example
External circumstances: Ones I was in a meeting with 7 Danes and only me. And all these people had to use English only because of my attendance. I don't think that it's a good situation.
Results of my learning of Danish for 3 years of working in the company
- Level of Danish is enough to passing technical interviews or discuss working topics in talks and email
- Reading emails and docs became much faster
- I learned history of Denmark, Russia and Europe a bit deeply. That was also quite interesting
- Danes were really shocked of my results
- I got a bit more respect from other colleagues
- Motivation "Do like I do" worked for the other colleagues, but not for a long time
In the next part I will describe my learning strategy and inner motivation…
See you soon! in Part 2