There are many reasons to learn Norwegian
Do you live in Norway, or are you planning to move there? Do you often visit the country, or are you planning to go there more often?
Since you are reading this now, you are probably at least thinking about learning Norwegian. For some people it is family or relationships, for others it is work or business – or vacations in Norway. Others again feel that they have no choice – they sign up for a Norwegian course because they already live in the country.
You may also be considering learning a Scandinavian language, without yet knowing which one.
“But everyone in Norway speaks English…”
Well, to some extent yes, but not entirely. Almost everyone has had English at school, but not everyone feels comfortable with speaking it. You will soon notice that this is the case among people of all ages.
It is greatly appreciated if you are able to speak at least some Norwegian. It is a way of showing respect for the country and the culture. In a situation where different people meet, they may speak English to you, but Norwegian with each other. However, if you do understand the language, you will be able to engage in social life to a much larger extent.
Life is Norway is easier if you learn the language
Did you ever encounter signs or hear a message in a supermarket that you did not understand? That’s what often happens when you don’t know the language.
If you live in Norway, learning the language will help you a lot in your everyday life. Many explanations are given only in Norwegian, and Google Translate cannot always help you properly. On the other hand, if you do speak the language, you will understand signs, messages and official letters without having to ask anyone for help. You will also find it easier to make friends and build up a social life if you live in Norway. In addition, it is a great advantage when applying for a job. So yes, learning how to speak Norwegian can be very helpful.
You need to know how to speak Norwegian to get a decent job!
This really is true. If you don’t have high ambitions, you can probably get a job. However, your chances will be limited. Most employers prefer to hire someone who speaks the language. They want employees who fit into the team and who can join the conversations in the lunch breaks. So if you are planning to stay in Norway, you should start learning Norwegian, the sooner the better.
Understanding Norwegian culture and society
Language is maybe the most important part of the culture of a country. The Norwegian language tells us something about the way of life in Norway, as well as reflecting the mentality in general. You will notice this in the way people interact, but also when reading literature or watching films. There are also quite a few Norwegian words and expressions that cannot easily be translated into other languages. They may reflect culture, lifestyle, weather or even the landscape. “Hyttetur” means “cabin excursion”, “utevær” means “weather to be utside”, while a “fjelltur” is “a hike in the mountains”.
Should I learn Norwegian instead of Swedish or Danish?
With the necessary will and effort, people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark can understand each other pretty well. If you travel much across Scandinavia, learning just one of the languages is probably the most practical option.
Which Scandinavian language should you learn? The choice depends on your own situation, and will often be obvious. However, Norwegian is probably the best option if you’re not sure. It is most commonly understood across Scandinavia and can work well as a bridge language. In writing, it is close to Danish, while its pronunciation is closer to Swedish.
Nevertheless, there are a few differences that are challenging for foreign learners. You won’t necessarily understand all three Scandinavian languages in the beginning. You will still need to get used to quite a few differences in pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary. This takes practice and in some cases immersion for a non-native speaker. The largest challenge you will encounter is probably understanding the Danish pronunciation. Reading Swedish may also be a challenge in the beginning, though understanding the spoken language is much easier for those who understand Norwegian.
With the right approach to learning, Norwegian can serve as a Scandinavian bridge language. However, it will be important to discuss you needs with your teacher for further advice, and to develop the right approach to study.
Is Norwegian a difficult language?
For English-speaking people, Norwegian is easier than many other languages. There are a few similarities to English in vocabulary, and in other traits of the language as well, including some of the grammar and sentence structure. However, like with any language, you will need to spend time and energy in order to learn Norwegian well.
The various dialects of Norwegian do pose a challenge for a Norwegian learner. Many non-native speakers find this regional variation frustrating, but most of them learn how to deal with it. For daily communication, learning to speak Norwegian Bokmål is sufficient, even in areas where a dialect is widely spoken.
Where and how can I learn Norwegian?
Did I convince you? Are you ready to start studying Norwegian? Via textbooks and apps you can study Norwegian from anywhere in the world.
However, you may feel it’s more useful to have a teacher that can guide you and correct you, and design the right learning program to meet your goals. In that case, you should check out norwegian.online‘s tailor-made language courses. You are welcome to have a look at the rest of this site to learn more, or mail me with any questions you have!
Please also get in touch if you are interested in a free trial lesson!