Do you need to learn Danish to live in Denmark?


Do you need to learn Danish to live in Denmark? The answer is No, and Yes.

You can work, live and study in Denmark without learning Danish. I know a number of British, American and French people that have lived here years without learning the language. There are companies who use English as their first language, and a few who will allow you to work in a Danish speaking office without Danish. However after eighteen years in Copenhagen my advice would be learn it, and learn it as quickly as possible. No matter how difficult, annoying or time consuming it feels, and stick with it until you are fluent. Also don’t be tempted to drop out of a course with a view to returning, as you won’t and you will regret it.

The Danes are speaking the English very good

Pretty much everyone in Denmark, old and young speak and or understand English. But as polite and helpful as Danes generally are in speaking English, it can be wearing for them. And you are in their country.

Do you want to sit at a meeting or meal with five Danes, and everyone speaks English because of you? Do you want to be doing that five or ten years after you have lived in Copenhagen? No you don’t, so learn their language.


It’s a long hard struggle to learn Danish

It is difficult learning Danish. As you start taking tentative steps to speak Danish you meet the frustration of speaking Danish only to be answered in English, by someone with a smug grin on their face, who appears to be rubbing your nose in it. They are in fact just trying to be helpful. That one happens a lot at the beginning, but it eases off as you improve.

Is it a waste of time learning Danish?

One of the arguments for not learning Danish is ‘what’s the point, only 5 and a half million people speak the language’. I’ve heard this a few times. Well unless you generally talk with a couple of million people per year, I really don’t think that argument is anything other than an excuse for laziness.

Some people have a natural ear for language, and a have a memory that suits language learning. For others like me, it’s just hard painful work. It took me five months on a part time course (at Studieskolen in Copenhagen) to get enough Danish to blag my way through a job interview in Danish. This involved quite a bit of nodding along, and occasionally repeating the last word they said in a vague attempt to look like I understood what they were talking about. It takes a little time to build up the fluency, but you will only pick it up after first doing a course. The idea that you will pick up Danish through osmosis, aint gonna happen, just as, ‘I will learn Danish later’ isn’t going to happen. Do it now.


Some of the Danish language schools

www.kbh-sprogcenter.dk Copenhagen Language Center
www.studieskolen.dk Studieskole (Is the one I went to)
www.kiss.dk Københavns Intensive Sprogskole – Copenhagen’s Intensive language school. (Always wondered if Gene Simmons teaches there. In full make-up)




A re-launch of my side project Iain, my cartoon website


My cartoon website www.iain.dk has just been re-launched. As with my other side project, my football website thedandydons.com it is an opportunity for me to develop skills and express myself on my own terms. I greatly enjoy working with clients, but it is nice on my personal projects to do exactly what I want. It also makes me a better designer when working with clients, and a bit less of a control freak.

The drawing style for Iain.dk is very different from my commercial illustration style. And is a very enjoyable way to work. I now have a brand new Facebook page to bring people into. It currently has precisely six! Hint, hint. www.facebook.com/iaindk


Cartoons on Denmark

I mentioned on my blog post on Michael Booth’s Guardian article criticising Denmark www.iaincameron.dk/ugly-truth-scandinavia/ that I worked for the English language newspaper The Copenhagen Post a number of years ago. So I decided to find some of the old work, and post it here.

However this devout minimalist designer, likes to get rid of old stuff. So I re-drew some of my favourites. More will follow as I get them done.

Danish religious cartoonEaster beer cartoonAnders Fogh Rasmussen Nato cartoon

Meanwhile at Noma restaurant

Noma restaurant

The ugly truth about some British people in Denmark

Michael Booth Denmark
A journalist wrote some nasty and incorrect things about Denmark in The Guardian newspaper. As I’m a little ray of sunshine on all things Danish, plus I don’t like someone else British getting attention who hasn’t even lived here as long as me, I decided to reply…

In Michael Booth’s article in The Guardian newspaper Dark lands: the grim truth behind the ‘Scandinavian miracle, the writer, who is British and lives in Denmark criticises Scandinavia, and particularly Denmark.

Set up as a counterpoint to the British media’s positive portrayal of Scandinavia, and intended to be tongue in cheek, but not so obvious you’d notice, Booth takes a good hard kick at the country he and I live in.

The British abroad

On first reading I thought it was very funny. Funny in the sense that, that was me 17 years ago. That was British friends of mine I met through Danish language classes, and there are British pub bores in British and Irish pubs in Copenhagen still talking that way. There are also Americans, French and Germans with similar attitudes. Significantly those from the larger Western countries. Or larger than Denmark.

Copenhagen Pub

It also reminded me of my time as a cartoonist on The English language newspaper The Copenhagen Post fifteen years ago. With humour needing a target I nitpicked and teased Denmark and Danish news. Occasionally there was a good gag, but as I came to understand, there was nowhere to go with it. It was wrong, and it was all too obvious. ‘I’m from Britain, a proper country, and I’m here to sneer at you and tell you how things should be done. Laugh at my jokes at your expense’.

Don’t mention trains or the weather

Then there is the article itself, the main themes were expertly taken apart by DR programme Detektor  www.dr.dk/tv/se/detektor-tv/detektor-144. But a couple of minor points they didn’t touch on:

‘As a spokesperson I interviewed at the Danish centre-right thinktank Cepos put it, they effectively work until Thursday lunchtime for the state’s coffers, and the other day and half for themselves.’ Which word in the title ‘Centre Right Think Tank’, is the key word, do you think? A bit like asking Fox News for a quote on Obama. If you’ve lived ten years in Denmark, you’ve seen a few paychecks.

‘The other day, I turned up at my local A&E to be told that I had to make an appointment, which I can’t help feeling rather misunderstands the nature of the service.’ You are effectively given a time to arrive, to save people having to wait three hours if their condition is not life threatening, you know, like in a British hospital.

The trains and the weather

‘And the trains most assuredly do not run on time.’ Seriously? Really? Did you write your article from Christiania? Someone from Britain criticising the trains in another country! You may as well have criticised Denmark for the weather! Oh wait, in your book, you do just that. That’s fine if you’re from Australia, Spain or Italy, but Britain!? I’m from the North East of Scotland, the weather in Denmark is generally a fair bit better than Aberdeen’s. Perhaps the part of England you are from is in the South of France…

Michael Booth Guardian trains

‘Prime-time Danish TV is day-to-day, wall-to-wall reruns of 15-year-old episodes of Midsomer Murders and documentaries on pig welfare.’ For those who missed it, the line ‘documentaries on pig welfare’ is a joke from Booth. Perhaps he should flag them up in future. Oh wait…

‘The Danes are aggressively jingoistic, waving their red-and-white dannebrog at the slightest provocation.’ Doesn’t like flags either.

‘Plus side? No one talks about cricket.’ Another joke from Booth, he should try stand-up comedy.

Bisto, mince pies and sausage rolls

Like a good few other British citizens in Copenhagen, I’m sure Michael Booth can be found at the British Shop in Copenhagen buying corned beef and Bisto gravy, or in one of the English or Irish pubs watching the English Premiership while sneering under his breath that Danish Liverpool supporters should ‘find their own culture’.

It’s all too easy. It’s wrong, and your attempts at humour are sadly not laughable.


The sad death of Marius the giraffe from Copenhagen Zoo

Marius the giraffe cartoon

A sad day for Marius the giraffe, but a good day for dark edged content providers

There is no such thing as bad publicity, as the saying goes. Judging by my Facebook News feed lots of my Danish friends have been to Copenhagen Zoo in the last few days with their kids. (At the time of writing it is three days since Marius the giraffe was put down). And while I don’t think for a second the zoo were involved in a publicity stunt, the negative reaction doesn’t seem to be affecting the zoo, in fact possibly the publicity is having a positive effect. Minus the death threats for those involved obviously…

Black humour content creation

So in terms of content creation, some stories are particularly good for black humour. So, first of all I did not kill the giraffe. Secondly, I am sorry Marius the giraffe is dead, and thirdly, this video here from the UK’s Channel Four news goes along way to show Copenhagen Zoo’s point of view, and how poor Channel Four news is judging by this interview. (I live in Copenhagen)

So I had a little fun. Apologies to the companies involved. Please get in touch if you want this content removed. And thanks to my friend Brian Erritsø Olsen for allowing me to use his genuine photo from the lions eating Marius the giraffe.

Copenhagen Zoo lions eating giraffe cartoon


Noma restaurant cartoon

Noma restaurant Copenhagen

The world famous Noma restaurant, situated in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen. Formerly the official number 1 restaurant in the world (voted by Restaurant magazine), and currently number 2.  Noma is run by chef  René Redzepi, and co-owned by Claus Meyer.

So here’s a cartoon on Noma restaurant Copenhagen. Some inspiration for you René, you can have that for free.

Noma restaurant