Help to prepare you and your children for a transition to a Danish Gymnasium

Culturally, as with anything, there are both similarities and differences between Danish High Schools and those outside of Denmark. We would like to make that transition as easy as possible for our international families and we have therefore gathered a few small items which we hope may bridge those gaps/differences.


Here are some hints for new families moving to Denmark and preparing their international children for Danish high school:

  1. Learn About the Danish Education System: Familiarize yourself with the Danish education system, including the structure of high school (known as “gymnasium” in Danish), the curriculum, and the grading system. Understanding the basics will help you support your child better.
  2. Language Preparation: Danish is the primary language of instruction in Danish high schools. Encourage your child to start learning Danish before they arrive in Denmark, if possible. Enrolling them in Danish language classes or using language-learning apps can be helpful.
  3. Cultural Immersion: Help your child become familiar with Danish culture and customs. Expose them to Danish music, films, literature, and cuisine. This will make the transition smoother and help them feel more integrated into Danish society.
  4. School Visits and Orientation: If possible, arrange visits to potential high schools in Denmark before making a decision. Attend orientation sessions or open houses to learn more about the school’s facilities, programs, and extracurricular activities.
  5. Support System: Establish a support system for your child in Denmark. This could include connecting with other expat families, joining international student groups, or seeking guidance from school counsellors and teachers.
  6. Academic Preparation: Ensure that your child is academically prepared for the challenges of Danish high school. Review their previous coursework and identify any areas where they may need additional support or tutoring.
  7. Physical and Mental Well-being: Moving to a new country can be stressful, so prioritize your child’s physical and mental well-being. Encourage them to stay active, maintain a healthy diet, and seek support if they are feeling overwhelmed or homesick.
  8. Flexibility and Adaptability: Emphasize the importance of flexibility and adaptability. Moving to a new country and adjusting to a new school system may come with challenges but encourage your child to approach them with an open mind and a positive attitude.
  9. Communication with School: Stay in regular communication with your child’s school. Attend parent-teacher meetings, stay updated on your child’s progress, and address any concerns or questions you may have with school administrators or teachers.
  10. Celebrate Achievements: Celebrate your child’s achievements and milestones along the way. Moving to a new country and adapting to a new educational environment is a significant accomplishment, so recognize and praise their efforts.

SPECIFIC HINTS for language attainment

Here are some specific hints to help your child learn a new language, such as Danish, in preparation for attending high school in Denmark:

  1. Start Early: Begin learning the language as early as possible to give your child more time to develop proficiency. The earlier they start, the more comfortable they will become with the language.
  2. Immersive Learning: Create an immersive environment where your child is exposed to the language regularly. This can include watching Danish movies or TV shows, listening to Danish music, and reading Danish books or newspapers.
  3. Language Classes: Enrol your child in language classes or courses either locally or online. Look for courses specifically designed for beginners or those learning Danish as a second language.
  4. Language Apps and Websites: Utilize language-learning apps and websites that offer interactive lessons, vocabulary drills, and pronunciation practice. Some popular options include Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone.
  5. Language Exchange: Encourage your child to participate in language exchange programs where they can practice speaking Danish with native speakers. This could be done through online language exchange platforms or local language meetups.
  6. Flashcards and Vocabulary Lists: Create flashcards or vocabulary lists to help your child memorize new words and phrases. Reviewing these regularly can reinforce their learning and expand their vocabulary.
  7. Practice Speaking: Practice speaking Danish as much as possible, even if it’s just simple phrases or conversations at home. Encourage your child to speak aloud and engage in conversations with family members or friends who are also learning the language.
  8. Use Language in Daily Life: Incorporate Danish into your daily routines and activities. Label household items with Danish words, cook Danish recipes together, or play language-learning games as a family.
  9. Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable goals for language learning and track your child’s progress over time. Celebrate milestones along the way to keep them motivated and engaged.
  10. Be Patient and Persistent: Learning a new language takes time and effort, so remind your child to be patient with themselves and to stay persistent in their studies. Encourage them to embrace mistakes as part of the learning process and to keep practicing consistently.


Danish gymnasiums, (high schools), have some cultural differences compared to high schools in other countries. Here are a few key points:

  1. Educational Philosophy: Danish gymnasiums often emphasize critical thinking, independent learning, and student-centred education. Students are encouraged to question, analyse, and engage actively in their learning process rather than passively receiving information.
  2. Informality and Equality: Danish society values informality and equality, and this is reflected in gymnasium culture. Teachers and students typically address each other by their first names, fostering a sense of equality and openness in the classroom.
  3. Collaborative Learning Environment: Danish gymnasiums promote a collaborative learning environment where students work together on projects, presentations, and group assignments. This encourages teamwork, communication skills, and peer learning.
  4. Flexibility and Choice: Danish gymnasiums offer flexibility and choice in terms of curriculum and study pathways. Students have the freedom to choose their subjects, study concentrations, and elective courses based on their interests and career aspirations.
  5. Emphasis on Holistic Development: Danish gymnasiums prioritize holistic development, focusing not only on academic achievement but also on personal growth, social skills, and extracurricular activities. Students are encouraged to participate in sports, arts, and community service activities to develop well-rounded personalities.
  6. Emphasis on Work-Life Balance: Danish culture values work-life balance, and this is reflected in gymnasiums as well. Students are encouraged to maintain a healthy balance between their academic studies, extracurricular activities, and personal interests.
  7. Emphasis on Democratic Values: Danish gymnasiums often emphasize democratic values such as tolerance, inclusivity, and respect for diversity. Students are encouraged to engage in discussions about social issues, cultural differences, and global perspectives to promote understanding and empathy.



In the context of Danish schools and gymnasiums, “dannelse” refers to the holistic education and personal development of students beyond academic knowledge. It encompasses a broad range of personal, social, and moral qualities that are considered essential for becoming a well-rounded and responsible member of society.

“Dannelse” is often translated as “formation” or “cultivation” in English, but it encompasses more than just intellectual development. It includes aspects such as moral and ethical values, critical thinking skills, social awareness, empathy, creativity, and a sense of civic responsibility.

In Danish gymnasiums, the concept of “dannelse” is integrated into the curriculum and educational practices. While academic subjects are important, equal emphasis is placed on fostering students’ personal growth, social skills, and ethical values. This may be achieved through various means, including interdisciplinary projects, extracurricular activities, discussions on social issues, and participation in community service initiatives.

“Dannelse” also emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning and self-reflection. Students are encouraged to explore their interests, develop their talents, and cultivate a sense of curiosity and intellectual curiosity that extends beyond the classroom.

Frihed under Ansvar”

“Frihed under ansvar” is a fundamental principle in Danish gymnasiums that translates to “freedom with responsibility” in English. It encapsulates the idea that students are granted a certain degree of freedom in their learning and personal development, but they are also expected to act responsibly and considerately.

In a Danish gymnasium, “frihed under ansvar” manifests in several ways:

  1. Academic Freedom: Students have the freedom to explore their interests, pursue independent study, and engage in critical thinking. They are encouraged to take ownership of their learning process and make choices regarding their academic path.
  2. Self-discipline: With freedom comes the expectation of self-discipline. Students are responsible for managing their time effectively, completing assignments on time, and staying organized. They are encouraged to take initiative in their studies and seek help when needed.
  3. Respect for Others: Alongside freedom, students are expected to respect the rights and opinions of others. This includes showing consideration for classmates, teachers, and staff members, as well as fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment.
  4. Ethical Behavior: Students are expected to behave ethically and with integrity both inside and outside the classroom. This includes honesty in academic work, respect for intellectual property, and adherence to the school’s code of conduct.
  5. Participation and Engagement: “Frihed under ansvar” also entails active participation in school life and extracurricular activities. Students are encouraged to take part in discussions, contribute to group projects, and engage with the wider community.


“Frihed under ansvar” emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between freedom and responsibility. It prepares students for the realities of adulthood by fostering autonomy, self-discipline, and ethical decision-making while also promoting a supportive and collaborative learning environment and together with “dannelse” which represents a holistic approach to education that seeks to nurture well-rounded individuals who are intellectually curious, morally grounded, socially responsible, and equipped to navigate the complexities of the modern world, these two concepts are the cornerstones of the Danish philosophy of education.