How To Learn Norwegian For Free Before A Trip To Norway
Being able to speak a little of the local language can be very helpful in your travels. Even the simplest vocabulary can enrich your journey and provide a deeper cultural understanding. Before the trip, it helps to build anticipation for the experiences you are about to have.
Thanks to online tools and resources, it has never been easier to start learning a foreign language, whatever your language learning experience at school. If you decide to learn some Norwegian, it’s important to start early.
Do you need to learn Norwegian?
In the latest edition of the EF English Proficiency Index, Norwegians were ranked fourth in the world for non-native English proficiency. This ability is highest in the two largest cities, Oslo and Bergen.
But even in rural areas, virtually all Norwegians speak at least some English – certainly enough to help a lost or confused traveler – but most speak fluently from a life of education, television and films, English football fan bases and world travel.
So unless you’re planning on moving to Norway, in which case learning Norwegian must be at the top of your to-do list, putting in the hours before a trip isn’t necessary at all. That being said, if you want to try out some of your newly learned phrases while in the countryside, locals will really get excited.
Free online courses
There are many paid online courses of varying quality and price, but the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) offers a fantastic free resource for getting started with the language.
The 12-part course, called “Norwegian on the Web”, is designed to familiarize newcomers to Norway with the language from day one. The beginner course uses stories, audio files and flashcards to teach vocabulary and pronunciation while following the adventures of new families in Norway.
Available downloads include a 139-page textbook, grammar tables, and audio tracks. While not a course for travelers, the first two lessons focus on introducing yourself and learning basic travel vocabulary.
Experts from the University of Oslo have also contributed to the Future Learn platform with a free beginner’s course to learn the Norwegian language. Despite being a paid platform, access to the Norwegian course is free for a limited time.
Once you’ve reached a certain level, you might want to test yourself. The exercises that accompany Exploring Norwegian Grammar are free to use.
There are many ways to learn languages on smartphones. The best known is Duolingo, which is free to download or use on the web. A paid upgrade is available, but the ad-supported free version is a very powerful language learning tool.
The best way to learn a language is through daily practice. Duolingo’s built-in gamification makes building a daily language learning habit easy and fun.
Memrise is another popular app that uses a flashcard approach to make words stick. The company says its introductory Norwegian course teaches participants to introduce themselves, get around and “learn a bunch of useful slang Norwegian phrases to make people smile.”
Norwegian music and podcasts
Pronunciation is often the biggest hurdle when learning a new language. To help you in the first few days of learning Norwegian, there are many Norwegian music and podcasts available to listen to.
Regular listening to Norwegian, whether you understand the words or not, will help you pick up the rhythm and idiosyncrasies of the pronunciation. This makes it much easier to understand when a real Norwegian answers you!
Klar Tale is a weekly print newspaper and website that publishes news in plain Norwegian. It’s a great resource for learning to read the written language related to current events. Less well known is the free weekly podcast, which is an audio version of the newspaper.
Relax with Slow Norwegian is another great way to learn authentic Norwegian at a slower pace. After a brief English introduction, each episode presents a ‘bedtime story’ read by a licensed hypnotherapist and professional narrator.
Music is another fantastic way to get an ear for the language. While you’re sure to find a few Norwegian artists in your favorite genres, folk music or children’s songs will be a good use of your time, especially if you read along with the lyrics while listening to the songs. Daughter and father Siri Nilsen and Lillebjørn Nilsen are two names to watch.
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