Norwegian for English Speakers
How to learn Norwegian quickly and easily on your own
In early 2009, I decided to learn Norwegian as a third language. Why Norwegian? I really don't know, probably because I've heard such nice things about the country, had a Norwegian pen-pal back when I was in high-school and my favorite web browser was made in Norway. Here's what happened so far...
This page purely reflects my own personal experience and thoughts. I don't have any affiliation with the products mentioned below, but since Squidoo is an affiliate of Amazon, if you click on product links and make a purchase, a small percentage will be donated to Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Courses and Online Lessons...
When it comes to learning Norwegian you're pretty much on your own. There are some courses in U.S.A. and U.K. but if you live elsewhere you're out of luck.
Norwegian is spoken by roughly 5 million people on earth. Norwegian is the easiest (yes, the easiest..) language to learn if you are an English speaker, and if you have the tiniest bit of experience with German, it is a piece of cake. I find it hard to see that Norwegian still remains a niche language to learn, while people can easily learn it just to increase the language count on their CV.
If you're after a regular course and can't find anything on Google, check your local university, they do have language programs from time to time. If you're after an online course, you're out of luck again. I did search for a decent way to learn Norwegian online, but all I could find was a few instructors who offered me to charge $40 per hour. So.. that did not work for me.
Your friends will tell you...
They will tell you that it will be hard, that every noun has a gender and you will have to memorize them, and you will burn your brain trying to figure out how to conjugate that verb.. Don't listen to them.
Norwegian is a Germanic language. That is enough to scare most people as Germanic languages are known to be hard on your neurons and your throat. That is not valid when it comes to Norwegian. Norwegian verbs have some of the easiest conjugation you can find in Europe. i.e. Present tense is made by adding an -r to the verb, regardless of who's doing it. Sweet!
Unlike German, Norwegian word order is very similar to English. i.e. "I can speak Norwegian" becomes "Jeg kan snakke norsk" in Norwegian. Most sounds are also very similar to English.
Learning Norwegian is mostly about studying words and practicing pronunciation. You will spend very little time on grammar.
Norwegian is relatively easy to pronounce because it is usually spoken as it is written. This means, all letters are pronounced. There are 9 vowels in Norwegian and vowels can be short or long. These takes a little getting used to and some voices are hard to reproduce for a native English speaker. You should practice a lot. I'm still looking for a way to practice online, but haven't been successful so far.
How does Norwegian sound?
Here's a hilarious video to give you a quick example. It is the first video of two, so don't forget the watch the other one.
Folk High Schools in Norway
In my search for a decent language course I've learned about these fantastic schools. Since I have a professional career, it was impossible for me attend to these courses. But hey, if you're still a student and have a year to spare you should really consider these schools.
A folkehÃ¸gskole (Folk Highschool / County College) is a Nordic phenomenon, an alternative and fun school system. It is important to emphasize that, by law, folk high schools conduct no formal examinations and issue no degrees. The folk high schools do not require specific diplomas, previous education, or occupational experience. As an international student, you are expected to know English well or speak some Norwegian. There are some scholarships for international stutents too. More information can be found at http://www.folkehogskole.no
Here's What I have done..
Here are the things I did and purchased in order to learn Norwegian. I'm still learning the language and still consider myself a beginner. In the future I may add new things and change my comments as I move along.
1- Get Byki for Norwegian
Byki is essentially a flash card application. It will not teach you the grammar, but it will teach you the words, sentences and how to pronounce them. Each word is accompanied by a voice recording. Application senses the words you had trouble with and asks these words more frequently. Great!
Byki comes with essential words bundled. You can expand it by adding new Norwegian word lists here.
Byki comes in two flavors the free "Express" and paid "Pro" edition. Pro edition has more word sets and some extra functionality. For the starter, express edition is more than enough. You may want to go pro as you get more confident with the language. Pro version costs about $60, express version is free and has no ads or crapware in it.
2- Get the Book and CD Set
This book comes with two audio Cd's. Since you will hardly have any chance of face-to-face conversation to practice pronunciation, you should always pick books that come with an audio complement. If you have an Mp3 player rip your cd's to your player and use the original cd's at your car. You will need to rewind and change tracks all the time, so an mp3 player is a must.
3- Get the Workbook
This product is not actually a workbook. I originally bought this out of curiosity. This book has lots of useful exercises, very good grammar information and some goodies like name stickers. Cd that come with the book is rubbish, just a simple game made with Flash.
4- Get the dictionary
No language course is complete without this yellow dictionary. It's small and more than enough for a beginner.
Everyone has a reason for learning a new language. What's yours?