Language – University of Copenhagen


Denmark has one official language: Danish. However, there are several minority languages spoken throughout the territory, if you include The Faeroe Islands and Greenland.

Danes are taught English from a very young age and 86% of all Danes speak English as a second language. Therefore, it is fairly easy for foreigners to move to Denmark and still be able to communicate with Danes. That being said, it is important to know that Danish is still spoken and used by your colleagues, your neighbours, in the local supermarket and by the Danish authorities. Typically people wonder if it is possible to take a position at the University of Copenhagen without learning the Danish language.

To help you decide, we have gathered some information about the use of languages in Denmark.

Danish authorities

A lot of information you receive from the Danish authorities will be in Danish. Over the years, more information is available in English. It is always possible to get information in English by phone or one of your Danish colleagues will be happy to help you out.

At the university

The University of Copenhagen has a policy of Danish/English parallel language use. All information on the UCPH website is in both English and Danish. Your contract will be in English and any administrative help is available in English. In addition to English, the people working for International Staff Mobility speak several languages, so if you are lucky they can even help you in your own language.

At your department
The use of language can vary from one department to another. However, most departments have an international workforce and in your daily work you will most likely not be challenged by the Danish language. Some departments choose to have staff meetings in Danish, whereas others switch to English if international employees are present. The use of parallel languages is up to the department and varies. You can talk to your colleagues if you have doubt of how to go about this.

Long-term career
If you are considering a long-term career at University of Copenhagen you should consider if your language skills will have an impact on your possibilities. Some departments are very strict regarding the Danish language, and learning Danish can be more of a request than a wish.

Social life

To be social in another language can be challenging for many people, regardless of the level of co-workers language skills. This also applies for Danes.

As mentioned earlier most Danes speak English and you can easily attend parties and other social events without knowing any Danish. That being said, it can be a challenge to mingle with Danes without knowing any Danish.

It is our experience that many Danes will switch to Danish, if there are only a few non Danish speaking individuals present. You should not think this as an act of rudeness. Many Danes simply find it slightly demanding to speak another language in big social crowds and prefer to speak their mother tongue language. The switch to Danish is for many Danes unintentional. If one asks them, they will make an effort to speak English and include you.

Courses in Danish

As a foreigner with an official Danish address (folkeregisteradresse), you are offered publicly funded Danish lessons. One module of Danish language lessons cost 2.000 DKK. You also have to pay a deposit of 1.250 DKK when you sign up for Danish language classes – but this deposit is fully refundable. When you receive a referral letter from the municipality in which you live, please contact you preferred language school as soon as possible and no later than one month after you recieve it. 

Official Danish language schools in and around Copenhagen:

Other language schools will also offer Danish language lessons, but they will not be able to offer Danish lessons with a referral from the municipality in which you live. You will not receive an official licensed diploma, when you finish a module at one of these language schools.

Danish courses at University of Copenhagen./ Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use (CIP)

CIP at UCPH offers tailor-made Danish courses for both individuals and groups within all levels of Danish. These courses come with a fee.

Important information about language lessons

One module of Danish language lessons cost 2.000 DKK. The price of 2.000 DKK is a reduced price subsidised by the Danish state. Therefore, it is important to contact a language school sooner rather than later in order to ensure that you can begin the language classes offered by the municipality in which you live, regardless of when you plan to start.  

The voucher system took effect at the beginning of 2018. The voucher holds up to six units, each corresponding to one module of Danish language courses, if classes are attended according to schedule.

It can have consequences for you right to the municipality's language lessons if you for example take breaks in the middle of a module or in between modules. Therefore, it is essential that you familiarise yourself thoroughly with all aspects of the voucher system, in order to understand the consequences of the choices you make. Please contact your language school for more information.

Note: before 1st July 2018, Danish language classes were free. Therefore, you may still come across outdated information about free Danish lessons.