“Halløjsa, allesammen!” A smiling, little Danish boy has just entered the café at NIST International School in Bangkok. He is here for a language playgroup, and soon, he will walk down through the schoolyard past the playground into the room behind the glass doors at the end. Behind the glass doors, he will find an oasis of learning for Danish children.
Since May 2016, Danish parents in Bangkok along with Danes Worldwide have organised a language playgroup for Danish and part Danish children at NIST International School in Bangkok. Here, the children can meet Danish peers, learn new words and enjoy speaking Danish with other children. Mai Ellegaard, Danes Worldwide’s representative in Thailand, believes that this is very crucial for the children’s possible future in Denmark.
“It is very important to be able to speak Danish if the children have to go back to Denmark after their stay in Thailand,” she says.
Both parents and volunteers are the ones teaching the children every Saturday at NIST. Asbjørn Krøll is both a parent and a volunteer at the playgroup, and he believes that it is important to create a foundation for the children through playing.
“It ought to be through playing that the children feel inspired to learn Danish,” he says explaining that, especially being overseas, it is important with a playful foundation with other Danish children so they won’t feel alone.
For the parents, the most important thing is not only practicing the children’s language, but also improving their social skills. Many of the Danish parents want their children to go to the playgroup for them to be able to exist in different cultures and slide into the Danish society one day, if that is what they want.
Klaus Støve, father of two girls in the playgroup, believes that the Danish values are important and that this is something that the playgroup also can help teach the children.
“When you are this far from Denmark, it can be hard maintaining the Danish values. My children only meet them through me and when my parents are visiting,” he says and explains that he believes this is important for the children to have different opportunities in the future.
Mai Ellegaard also has two boys, one of whom is in the language playgroup. She is also doing this to keep all possibilities open for her son.
“I do not want to slam any doors in front of him. If one day, he for instance wants to study something in Denmark, he must have the opportunity to do just that,” she says, explaining that she would feel really bad being the one standing in the way of her son’s dreams.
The Danish language playgroup takes place every Saturday from 10.15-11.15 for 3-4 year-olds and from 11.30-12.30 for 4-5 year-old children.