Extending below and above the Arctic Circle, Norway and its wonders are not for the faint of heart. And yet, Norwegian is one of the easiest languages to learn and is surprisingly warmer than its cold homeland. Whether you’re looking to get in touch with your viking roots or to learn twenty different ways to say “snow,” the best way to learn Norwegian is to study there! Studies show that immersive learning is the most effective way to learn and retain a language, so grab your skis and your camera and set sail for Norge — it’s time for a Norwegian language course.
Norwegian language classes can be studied at a number of universities around the world, or from the comfort of your own couch at home, but there’s something special about learning it at the source. Now, the choice is which city to undergo your language study- and which color to get your parka in.
As Norway’s capital and largest city, Oslo is located in the warm(er) southern region of the country. It’s no wonder that it has the most Norwegian language classes. The city is also a perfect place for people born with skis already on their feet, with the Oslo Winter Park only thirty minutes away from the city center. After a few runs on the slopes, practice your new language skills at your favorite waffle shop. Maybe you’ll even have a chance to say hei to the royal family!
Trondheim is a food and music haven, with plenty of breweries; definitely fitting for a city founding by a viking! With a number of top universities in the city, the sense of innovation and vibrancy is around every corner- so, watch out while you’re riding around on your bike! When you want a change from the hustle and bustle, a short drive outside the city will open up to the beautiful mountains and fjords of the country, which can only be described as vakker (beautiful).
If you’re not deterred by snow and ice, give Alta a chance to learn Norwegian. In the winter, you can go dog sledding and stay in the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. Make sure you take in all the wonders of the aurora borealis before the midnight sun of summer provides you with 24-hours of sunlight (the better to see you vocabulary flashcards with). Here, it’s especially helpful to keep in mind the Norwegian saying: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Norwegian Language Programs
Just like there are a variety of languages to learn, there are a variety of ways to learn them. From university courses to private tutoring, there’s a perfect program out there to help you learn Norwegian.
University courses take you through every step and level of the language. These courses are ideal if you like to build a network of study partners (and friends) during the year and a half of study towards fluency. However, these courses typically cover a lot of ground very quickly, making it easy to fall behind if you don’t keep up with your studies. Another thing to keep in mind: some universities won’t sponsor a student visa for just language courses, so you may need to find another way to stay in the country or take additional classes at the university.
Private tutors, often in homestay situations, provide an individualized teaching program either on its own or in addition to another course. Learning the Norwegian language through homestays offer a full-immersion scenario with constant structure and learning. This may be frustrating in the beginning when you want to slip into your native tongue, but in no time, you’ll be fluent in this beautiful song-like language! Plus, the headache of finding room and board is removed when you live down the hall from your teacher.
Intensive language study get you ready to take full college courses in the Norwegian language in as little as a year. Courses cover the Norwegian language and culture in long-session classes. Quick and immersive, you’ll be fluent in no time. Be warned: programs advise that you don’t take on a full-time job or other course as the intensive study is just that: intense!
Tips for Norwegian Fluency
The best way to learn Norwegian is to practice, practice, practice! Your dedication to your study in the classroom, at home, and in the city, will determine your success rate. With that in mind, here are some tips to make it easier:
Norwegians are social people, and it’s not uncommon to see two or three families come together for a Sunday stroll. Get involved with the community around you to practice your speaking. Not only will you get some practice in, but you can get extra tutoring and tips alongside native knowledge of the best places to eat, the best sights to see, and the other hidden gems of the country.
Start watching the news! Or listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or watch TV programs that are in Norwegian. The more you surround yourself with the language, the more ingrained it becomes in your life. Plus, when you’re informed, you’ll have more to talk about with your language practice partners!
Benefits & Challenges
Although Norwegian can be learned in a number of places, studying in Norway will not only drastically improve your language skills and at a quicker pace, but you’ll also learn the culture and experience the country. Isn’t it better to experience the different kinds of snow that you’re learning the names for first hand, rather than through pictures and flashcards? Be prepared for the startling effect of hearing your first hja!, but the pride of being praised for your correct pronunciation by a native will be well worth it.
Dialects might prove challenging in the beginning: almost every city, town, and village have a different way of pronouncing letters and sounds. They might even use different words for the same conversation. Noticing and asking about the differences can be a great way to get to know more of the country, so don’t be afraid to point it out and ask.
Then, there’s the chance that your neighbors actually speak Swedish instead of Norwegian. The Nordic languages (Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian) are very closely connected, which makes it possible for three different speakers to reasonably understand each other and can open your horizons beyond Norway. Talk about three languages for the price of one!
Norwegian language classes not only offer an experience and skill for a lifetime, but also a collection of friends and amazing pictures (seriously, Norway is stunning!). Do your research to find the best Norwegian language course and ski type for you then head over. Remember: et språk er aldri nok (one language is not enough)!