I received a tweet last weekend from Lauren Karlisle (@laurenkarlisle) about learning Norwegian and decided to answer her questions in a two-part blog post.
First off, thanks for the tweet Lauren! I LOVE hearing from blog readers!
As I mentioned on Twitter, yes I do speak, read and write Norwegian. My road to learning Norwegian actually started in Austria in 2005, when I started learning German (the vocabulary in both languages is very close), furthered when I started teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) in Hannover and was vamped into overdrive when I moved to Norway in 2007. I’m not perfect by any means and still have a ways to go before I reach what I would consider a “comfortable” level of Norwegian in all situations, but I am fully conversational and get around pretty well. My strongest skills are in reading and writing. One of my goals in 2013 is to get over my “fears” concerning my heavy accent and improve my speaking skills. I do have to say that my speaking skills are the weakest of the three, more due to my “perfectionist” mentality towards speaking, than anything else. But, for me, this has been true for the other languages I’ve learned over the years too (Spanish and German).
Norwegian is actually broken into two separate languages – Bokmål (literally book tongue) and Nynorsk (literally New Norwegian). Bokmål is the official language in many parts of the country, while nynorsk is the official language in other parts. Most pupils learn bokmål in school, and most state publications are in bokmål too (although most are actually available in both languages). In Oslo, many speak bokmål only, while in my area (Stavanger – Rogaland) many speak nynorsk or both. In Norway, most if not all newcomers learn to speak bokmål in language school. So if I had to choose one of the two languages from your perspective, I’d choose bokmål.
Below are my top five tips for learning Norwegian and other languages without moving abroad. YES – 100% immersion in another culture is a surefire, quick way to learn another language but if you can’t move abroad (just yet or at all), you can still make good headway in learning to snakker norsk or another language!
Remember, these are just some of my tips and suggestions. Be sure to leave yours down in the comments below.
Five Easy Tips For Learning Norwegian and Other Languages Without Moving Abroad PT. 1 (Video)
10. German, English, Norwegian and Dutch as well as Afrikaans, Danish and Swedish are all Germanic languages. Much of the vocabulary in Norwegian is very close to either English or German, so use this to your advantage.
word (word in English) and ord (word in Norwegian);
boat (boat in English) and båt (boat in Norwegian);
house (house in English) and hus (house in Norwegian) all sound similar in both languages.
Sometimes, if I can’t remember a vocabulary word in Norwegian, I’ll use an English word instead and ask a colleague or friend for the correct word. The correct answer is usually very close the English or German equivalent.
9. Learn like a child. Think about it, way back when, we all learned to speak to get what we wanted in certain situations– not for grammar tests. YES grammar is important, but if you want to get ahead in your chosen language quickly, learn phrases which can help you succeed in various situations to help build up your confidence and help you get what you need accomplished.
Some good words and phrases to begin with are:
Please/Thank you/Nice to meet you
Do you speak English?
Learn how to count to 100 (and look for the patterns in how numbers are spoken vs. written)
the names of all of the primary colours
left/right plus up/down
days of the week
learn the alphabet song (spelling your name happens a lot as a foreigner in Norway!)
How much does this cost?
Where can I buy?
What time is it?
I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you. Can you please say that again, slowly?
How does one say ___________ in Norwegian?
Where is _______________ located?
how to tell time (I’m still readily confused on this in Norwegian & in English (!!) but that’s me. All those half and quarter to half past phrases confuse me way too much! But you are smart, so you will get them – no prob. Me, I’ve given up!lol)
Making homemade flashcards with a Norwegian translation on one side, and an English on the other, can be invaluable in learning these phrases fast. Keep the cards (or even just a few that you really want to get down) with you at all times so you have something to learn while you are waiting at the dentist office, in the grocery store queue or for the kids to get out of swimming practice.
Check out this list of essential Norwegian phrases from the BBC (with an MP3 download and PDF print out)
Wikibooksin Norwegian (includes lessons on introducing yourself, basic grammar, getting to know people + numbers, time, useful expressions, month & weekdays)
Also learning phrases which show agreement, similar to the “oh you don’t say” and “umhummmmm….” or “I know that’s right” in English are priceless in Norwegian! Don’t forget, those are regional so they may vary from area to area.
8. Find something fun to do in your new language like start or improve on a hobby. For example, COOKING! Ha! My cooking vocab in Norwegian is crazy huge, but in doing commodity valuations, not so much. I choose to use food and cooking as my “fun pass” into Norwegian. Others I know have used swimming, skiing, cycling, running, poetry or music to open the door to learning Norwegian more fluently.
7. Place small sticky notes around your house to help you learn vocabulary and say the vocabulary word out loud every time you pass a labeled object. The visual connection between how an item is pronounced, how it is spelled, plus seeing what it is at the same time will help you remember it in the long run.
6. Watch this video on YouTube for tips on how to pronounce the “special” letters æ ø å, in Norwegian.
Good luck Lauren!
Did you like my five easy tips for learning Norwegian and other languages without moving abroad? Do you have any special tips or tricks for learning Norwegian or another language quickly? Be sure to leave your tips in the comments down below.
[…] Tip: Read more on how I learned (and am learning) Norwegian by reading: Five Easy Tips For Learning Norwegian and Other Languages Without Moving Abroad PT. 1 (Video) and Five Easy Tips For Learning Norwegian and Other Languages Without Moving Abroad PT. 2 […]