Monday, 25th of September, the European Language Prize was awarded at the new public space of Aarhus, Dokk 1. The Prize honors projects that create new ways of learning languages and at the same time increase cultural understanding. The recognition of the price also gives an opportunity for education and work for those involved in the projects. The award is given once a year and has been focusing on linguistic diversity and informal language teaching in 2016 and 2017. Informal language teaching is exactly the key word for Zoran Lekic’s volunteer project "Learn Danish with Rap", which won the price this year.

Zoran Lekic came to Denmark in the mid-1990s and started in 8th grade where he was the only student who could not speak Danish. He found the Danish pronunciation very difficult and he used to skip school if he knew that he should read aloud or make a presentation the following day. If he showed up in the class, he used to hide behind the paper and read aloud while the others laughed.

"But there were two boys from my class who lent me some CDs of Den Gale Pose and Østkyst Hustlers (literally translated, "The Mad Bag" and "The East Coast Hustlers"). Then I just rapped on it without thinking that I was actually practicing my pronunciation every time I rapped and listened to it. It’s like when you get a home-CD to practice Spanish, repeating sentences like "my house is big" – it’s the same process when you rap along with songs, but the difference is that it isn’t boring”, Zoran says about his idea of ​​the project.

But up until five years ago it didn’t occur to Zoran that this was actually the way he had learned Danish and then the idea of the project took its beginning. At the same time, Michelle Obama recorded a rap song in the White House about how important it is for young people to get an education. "When I saw Michelle Obama’s rap in the White House I thought that us who teach should not be afraid of rapping in the class rooms", Zoran says about his source of inspiration for the volunteer project.

Then Zoran started developing a project that would teach Danish to other foreigners in the same fun and effective way he had learned it. As a result, today Zoran is having a workshop focused on pronunciation through rap in cooperation with the teachers at "LærDansk". Another inspiration for Zoran was a Canadian teacher who teaches biology with rap music: "This biology teacher explains the theory of evolution on a rap music CD and he recently performed for Stephen Hawkins. Therefore, I thought that if you can teach biology with rap, why shouldn't you be able to teach languages too?"

Zoran says about the project: "The results are very good as the students experience the rhythmic approach as highly motivating. At the same time it creates a strong and inclusive community for students who typically come with very different educational and geographical backgrounds." Education and Research Minister Søren Pind says about the project: ""Learn Danish with rap" is a fresh and creative approach to work with the Danish language and I acknowledge it." There were 15 options for receivers of the prize – both small grassroots projects, driven by individual enthusiasts, and more research-based collaborations.