German paramedics to learn Danish in a month

New ambulance contractor recruiting from south of the border

Most people who learn Danish find that they don’t succeed overnight, but about 70 German paramedics will be trying to do almost that: their employer expects them to be professionally proficient in Danish after just a month of language tuition, DR reports.

The Dutch company BIOS is taking over the ambulance transport contract from Falck in southern Jutland and because it has not been possible to recruit enough Danish speakers, the company has drafted in workforce from south of the border.

READ MORE: Dutch firm takes over emergency services business in southern Jutland

Professor: not enough time
In a fortnight the German employees will start language classes, which are scheduled to last for a month, before beginning work at the beginning of September. Johannes Wagner, a language professor at the University of Southern Denmark, told DR that this course of study is too short.

“A month is very little time,” he said.

“If they combined training with language tuition then they might be ready after two to three months. You can learn a lot in a month, but you can’t learn enough just by sitting in a classroom. You can probably learn enough to pass a test, but not necessarily enough to handle a work situation.”

Wagner doubts the extent of fluency the paramedics can achieve before they start work but he doesn’t want to spread alarm about their professional competency.

“I’m sure they know their stuff professionally and it is relatively easy to learn the different technical terms. But it is all the words between the technical terms that take a long time to learn,” he said.

“They won’t treat people wrongly because they don’t know the right words. They have their professional skills and they know what they have to do when people are sick.”