Learning Norwegian

Learning Norwegian, just like any new language is a daunting yet satisfying endeavour. Once you find yourself as an immigrant in Norway, there are no two ways about making your life easier than to learn the local language. As an honest and frank advice, not any person should cheat you that it is good enough to be proficient only in english as a foreigner in Norway. Yes, proficiency in English will only help you so much.

As expected, language is the easiest way to connect with a people and make them comfortable engaging you. Even yourself, it may feel frustrating not to understand the local language of a country which will be your home for a long time. However much learning Norwegian may be challenging, it is a very necessary thing for someone planning to stay in Norway for a long time.

It is the same case with Norway where the Norwegian language will be the first aspect of socialisation that will strike any newcomer. As anyone who have been in a foreign country can confirm,  knowing the dominant language gives you an edge to easily integrate. 

Aside from Norwegian language being important for your day to day life in Norway, it is also a critical consideration should you decide to apply for permanent residence or Citizenship. It will also come very much handy in penetrating the job market and endearing yourself to your newly found friendships.

I will be naïve to console you, especially if you are an adult when moving to Norway that learning the language will be any easy. As scientists say, there is a specific stage of human development where learning a new language requires extra personal effort.

You will have to put in the effort if to learn Norwegian. Interestingly unlike English, German, Spanish and French which you can still use in other countries, Norwegian is not necessary anywhere else outside Norway.

Some people will make fun of it and say that they drop the language at the airport and pick it up when they return to Norway…hilarious, yeah? But that is it.

When to start learning Norwegian

Knowing an extra language is never a waste of time which means that whenever you have the chance to learn, do it. However, learning a language that may not be so helpful in the long run may well be a waste of time.

It is a good idea to first have a self examination on whether you really need to learn Norwegian. If you are a fan of multilingualism then its all fine to learn the language for leisure. 

At the risk of sounding mean, let me tell you this, Norwegian is a language that you should only consider learning when you already know that you will live in Norway for a longer time as a student, worker or resident. Again, the language is a primary consideration to get permanent residence in Norway.

If you don’t figure out the slightest chance of ever living in Norway, it is not worth struggling to learn the language. Just leave it because where else will you use it if not in Norway? Maybe if you are a tour guide in the hospitality sector that mainly receives Norwegians, but even so, it is not just worth it. 

Why learn Norwegian

The easiest way to earn a people’s life is through their language. In fact anthropologists use language as a critical entry point into societies and end up getting so many insights into every aspect of the people. When you know Norwegian, native Norwegians will highly consider you as one of their own, confide in and befriend you.

Imagine a situation where you direly need to socialize with someone but first need to ask them if they can speak English with you, that’s freaking annoying, yeah? What if already you knew the dominant language there? You just pick a conversation and there it goes. 

As an English speaker in Norway, there is just so much you can feel as being part of that community but will largely experience a gap. For instance, you can find English speakers in Norway but they will mostly shy off since not so many are comfortable speaking a foreign language.

A Norwegian will easily tell you “sorry, my English is just so bad, I can’t speak it!” even if they actually talk it better than you.  

Norwegian will make your life easy when living in the country. Armed with a reasonable level of the language, you confidently walk into stores, workplaces or any public areas without worrying about any intimidations. As long as you have some level of conversational Norwegian, life in the country becomes more interesting. 

In Norway, employments that involve regular interaction with Norwegian speakers will also require that you have a reasonable level of competency in language. For instance, if you work in the hospitality industry, customer service, shop attendant, marketing and other social fields, you no doubt need to be able to communicate in  understandable Norwegian. 

How to Learn Norwegian

Just like learning any new language, there is no one particular way that works for everyone regarding learning Norwegian. What works for me may not work for you or another person. However, at least there are specific approaches that have worked for most of the people which informs our suggestions here. 

The best way to learn Norwegian is through regular interaction with speakers of the language who already understand your inability to speak it fluently. In fact, peer-to-peer learning of Norwegian will be effective especially in speaking the language.

I would advise that you make many friends with speakers of Norwegian who will over time nurture you to pronounce the words correctly and even tell you subtle aspects of spellings. Someone will tell you that Norwegian language school is the best option but I say no to that thinking.

While Norwegian language schools will give you introductions to the language, internalizing the important aspects depends on how frequently you are willing and able to use what you have already learned.

Mostly, language schools teach you written Norwegian, not spoken. The spoken Norwegian is your personal effort to learn through regular interactions. Linguists will tell you that language always undergo slow death the moment people do not speak it. 

Today, there are various websites and mobile phone applications including Duolingo which allow you self-paced learning of Norwegian. At least they give you an opportunity to lowly grasp words, then phrases and sentences before progressing to paragraphs and long conversations. 

I promise you that learning Norwegian is not a one-time event but a long running process that does not require faint heartedness. Irrespective of how much effort you put, it is always possible to think about quitting; what will keep you on the rope is the thought about why you started learning it in the first place. 

Norwegian language Schools in Norway 

As part of the integration process in Norway, it is recommended that you register into one of the language schools alongside having a positive attitude to pull every stop in the process of learning a new language. 

It is not free to learn Norwegian which means that you will also need to pay for the lessons at any given time. As soon as you register at  Norwegian school or proper online language course, a fee will be levied on you.

A typical language class in progress

The specific amount charged depends on the institution that offers it as well as the level of training involved. Elementary Norwegian may be cheaper than professional option. The university of Oslo offers training in Norwegian but just like already mentioned, attending a reputable language school does not guarantee that you will be so proficient overnight.

You may take a free online Norwegian course but with a positive attitude and motivation, it will be possible to get the most out of it. Anyways, scan around and get referrals from expats who have already learned Norwegian.